After being suspended for Monday night’s victory over the Los Angeles Chargers due to conduct detrimental to the team, New Orleans Saints star wide receiver Michael Thomas may not be completely out of head coach Sean Payton’s doghouse just yet. Jeff Duncan, who covers the Saints for The Athletic, had the following to say in his recent column about Thomas’ erratic behavior over the past several months.

Teammates, coaches and friends compare Thomas’ fiery competitiveness to Michael Jordan, who infamously belittled teammates and opponents on his way to six NBA titles.

However, there’s a difference between competitiveness and boorishness. And too often Thomas’ behavior has crossed the line, earning him a reputation among Saints football operations and support staff that can best be described as “difficult.”

Sources said Thomas barked at team trainers for failing to tape his ankle properly and accused one administrative staffer of illegally going through his mail. Thomas’ unpredictable, aloof personality has alienated members of the team’s public relations staff and led to social media snipes at opposing players and local reporters, frustrating the club’s brain trust.

Following the Saints’ victory on Monday night, Payton was asked if Thomas’ suspension would carry over into another game. He only responded by saying, “I will keep you posted. That is something that we will discuss and we will let you know when the time is right.” Hmmm.

Thomas is one of the best receivers in football, but we’ve seen character concerns overtake other stars in recent years, and he needs to be careful that he doesn’t follow that same path. Having said that, Thomas is the type of talented competitor and difference-maker that the Saints roster desperately needs, so there is also an onus of responsibility on the New Orleans’ coaching staff to figure out how to best work with his personality.

Last season Thomas set the NFL record for catches in a single season with 149 for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. However, due to an ankle injury suffered at the end of the Saints’ victory over the Bucs in Week 1, Thomas hasn’t appeared in the team’s last four games. He managed just three catches for 17 yards in his three-and-a-half quarters of action this season. When Thomas returns, he will have a lot of ground to make up in his quest for a fifth straight 1,000-yard campaign to begin his career. Only Mike Evans, Randy Moss and A.J. Green have ever accomplished that feat.

The Bucs and Saints meet again in Week 9 (Nov. 8) on Sunday Night Football.

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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SappAttack

Gotta love it, trade his ass away!

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Rating: +21. From 21 votes.
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TBChucky

Makes me love Mike Evans and Chris Godwin that much more..

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Rating: +42. From 42 votes.
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Spitfire

Exactly! Only attitude I see from Evans is on the field and I’ll take that all day long. Even if I gets an occasional penalty or two, he giving everything he’s got on that field and I love it. Godwin seems about as nice as it gets and plays his a** off too. Hard to ask for a better duo.

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Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
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fredster

Saints looked bad on offense against chargers. Without Thomas it’s all underneath for most part. I honestly think Bucs are more talented team if they can play more disciplined. That’s a big If though. Brees doesn’t seem have much arm strength left either. Saints secondary has struggled this year too.

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Rating: +11. From 11 votes.
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BigSombrero

Brees was ranked #32 last year in air yards per attempt. He only averaged one deep pass attempt of 30+ yards per game.

His arm is basically done.

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Rating: +9. From 19 votes.
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Naplesfan

Brees’ yards per completion average for his entire career is 11.3, and his career average yards per attempt is 7.6. This year, missing his primary wide receiver, is is averaging 10.6 ypc and 7.8 ypa. His leading receiver, by leaps and bounds, is a running back, not a wide receiver or even a tight end. That is a factor of not having his star wide receiver in the lineup.

The stats say you’re full of shit about Brees.

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eaustinyoung

Brees could be a glorified game manager and the Bucs could still lose the division if they don’t start fixing their mistakes.

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Naplesfan

Super star wide receivers in the NFL tend, all to often if not always, to become prima donnas. Sort of goes with the turf. This has been going on for decades.

We have a couple of really good wide receivers ourselves, but neither has turned into a prima donna, which is great.

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bucballer

Not just WRs my friend. See RB LeVeon Bell who was just released by Jets. Overestimated his worth a bit after leaving Steelers. Has been nonproductive and a bit of a head case ever sense. These professional athletes don’t fully realize how blessed they r to have the talent and opportunity to make more money then they could have ever dreamed! U see it every day! Then they end up broke and under a bridge in 2-3 years after their playing days. Yesterday I read about a bus driver who recently retired and after living a very modest lifestyle for… Read more »

bucballer

Shades of Antonio Brown no? Seems the Steelers covered up his for his horrible disposition because he produced. Seems it wore on them until it became a problem. Looks like the same has happened here… will history repeat itself with Thomas? A lot of parallels.

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PatrioticChief

You hate to see it. Just hate to see it. 😉

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owlykat

I don’t hate to see it. What is bad for the Saints is a victory for our Bucs!

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