A year after Zac Taylor left the Los Angeles Rams for the Cincinnati Bengals, wide receiver Mike Thomas made the transition to the Queen City as well.
Immediately upon reuniting with his former coach, the explosive receiver made his presence known despite a wide receiver room that is absolutely loaded.
The Bengals' top-three options are receiver were set in stone to begin the season. Rookie Tee Higgins, up-and-comer Tyler Boyd and veteran star A.J. Green were all at the top of the totem pole.
Following those three, the Bengals had Thomas, Alex Erickson, John Ross III and Auden Tate. Thomas quickly separated himself from the pack in September.
Thomas made his presence felt often in the team’s first three games by reeling in eight receptions and a touchdown despite being low on the depth chart. Those first three games showed that he had the potential to get more involved with quarterback Joe Burrow.
In the two games that Thomas went for over 30 receiving yards, Burrow went for over 315 passing yards, the only two times the rookie quarterback eclipsed the mark.
Here’s a clip of Thomas exploding off the line for one of Burrow’s three touchdowns in the Bengals 37-34 loss to the Browns
This was Thomas’ fifth season in the league, and it turned into his best season. It was the first year in which he went for over 100 receiving yards. The sad part is that he was on track for far more than that through the first two months.
Following Week 7, Thomas didn’t record a single catch despite being both targeted four times and playing a total of 65 snaps. Burrow’s injured occurred in Week 11, so one can’t just blame the rookie going down with season-ending injury for Thomas’ lack of involvement.
Thomas did have a 61.9 percent catch rate on the season, and when looking at just those first seven games, it skyrockets to 76.5 percent. It was a terrific first half of the season for Thomas, but he fell off towards the end.
With several wide receivers entering the free agency market this offseason, the team likely won’t be bringing back Ross of Green. Erickson will both be an unrestricted free agent, so it’s no guarantee he returns either.
With just Boyd and Higgins locked up, bringing back Thomas seems like a perfect solution for the Bengals as he should both be cheap and be able to sign without forcing a drastic hit to the team’s salary cap.