BetMGM has opened wagering on the NFL’s 2021 AP Comeback Player of the Year award, and a pair of Saints are among the offerings: quarterback Jameis Winston at +2500 odds and wide receiver Michael Thomas at +4000.
Marquee names poised for big years top the betting board, led by Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Bengals QB Joe Burrow, Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey, 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, and Julio Jones, the seven-time Pro Bowler who was traded this offseason from the Falcons to the Titans.
The comeback is real pic.twitter.com/QphEMjjHDc
— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) August 5, 2021
A common theme among Comeback candidates in any year is their previous seasons being cut short by injury. Winston, however, dealt with a different sort of adversity in 2020. He was signed by the Saints after the 2019 season, ostensibly to be Drew Brees’ backup, but when Brees was sidelined by injury, Taysom Hill got the call from coach Sean Payton.
This season, Winston is the front-runner for the QB job in New Orleans. DraftKings lists the former No. 1 overall draft pick as the -150 favorite to be the starter when the Saints host the Packers in Week 1 (adjusted from a -140 opener).
Reporting from Saints training camp, ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett writes, “Neither Jameis Winston nor Taysom Hill has done enough to win or lose the job yet while taking turns with the first-string offense. Winston has had the higher highs, but both have been mostly solid. . . . .The most notable development is that Winston’s decision-making seems to have improved a bit.”
Winston can certainly produce a season worthy of CPOY. He had some statistically massive years in Tampa Bay, most recently a 2019 campaign in which he tossed for an NFL-high 5,109 yards and 33 TDs. He also threw 30 interceptions that season, so yes, the decision-making Triplett writes about is paramount.
Moreover, the Payton-orchestrated offense has the potential to pay big dividends for the guy running the show, and the 25/1 odds at BetMGM look like an excellent deal stacked up against the 15/1 FanDuel is dealing on Winston in its Comeback Player of the Year market.
Michael Thomas’ Unsettling Offseason
For Thomas, not long ago one of the most dominant receivers in the league, to cash at 40/1 odds in BetMGM’s CPOY market, he’ll have to overcome not only an injury-riddled 2020 but also a turbulent offseason whose bumpy ride continues.
While it’s been known for several weeks the wideout will miss the start of the regular season as he recovers from ankle surgery, Thomas took to Twitter on Monday to respond to a report he decided against the Saints organization’s advice to have the surgery earlier in the offseason. Per NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan, Thomas waited until June to undergo surgery after seeking a second opinion.
“It’s disappointing,” Payton said, per the report. “We would have liked (the surgery) to have happened earlier rather than later. And quite honestly, it should have.”
Tweeted Thomas, “They tried to damage your reputation. You saved theirs by not telling your side of the story”
Late September/early October appears to be the earliest we’ll see Thomas back on the field, and it’s unsettling for potential Thomas backers (and fantasy football owners) to hear about a damaged relationship with the team. If he starts playing back to the form he exhibited earlier in his career, however, bettors holding a ticket at 40/1 odds will be looking pretty smart.