Scant few observers believe he will play another down for the Patriots, yet the outside linebacker remains on the roster and rather bamboozled about how everything turned out so poorly after he signed a five-year, $35 million contract on the first day of free agency 2007.
Boston Globe reporter Shalise Manza-Young traveled to Hattiesburg, Miss., to catch up with Thomas and talk about his peculiar stay with the Patriots and his fractured relationship with coach Bill Belichick.
The story rehashes Thomas' broken forearm and subsequent rehab, his one-game suspension along with teammates Randy Moss, Derrick Burgess and Gary Guyton for showing up late to a team meeting on a treacherous winter day when the roads were clogged and a meeting last summer in which he was told his role would change because he was "not a good pass-rusher."
"I look at it like this: There are only six [active] outside linebackers with 50-plus sacks. I'm one of them," Thomas told Manza-Young. "To say after the injury that, 'OK, you're not a good enough pass-rusher,' I just can't ... I can't buy that. I'm not saying I'm the best in the world or anything like that, but ..."
Thomas raises an intriguing point when he revisits the game for which he was benched for a poor performance the week before. Belichick scratched him for the Week 6 game against the Tennessee Titans, three weeks after he was given a game ball for a victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
"I know a lot of people that had more than one bad game," Thomas said. "It was shocking. That was like a turn."
If the Patriots do cut Thomas, then you have to figure there's a good chance he winds up with the New York Jets. He earned that monster contract for the Patriots for the way he thrived with the Baltimore Ravens, where Jets head coach Rex Ryan was a defensive mastermind.
As for the possibility he has played his final game for New England, Thomas replied, "I wish I really knew. And that's the honest-to-God truth. The only person that knows that would be Bill. I don't have a clue what's going to happen, what their plans are. So it's kind of uncertain. It's uncomfortable, too, because you don't really know where you're going to be.
"I've had a great time. If this is the end, I've enjoyed myself. The fans have been great. It was fun playing there. If it's not, I'm fine with coming back."