Safety Earl Thomas has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons this week which could ultimately pave his way to finally join the Dallas Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys and their fans have been in this love affair with Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas. No doubt Thomas tugged at my heartstrings when he infamously spoke those three words, “come get me”, wanting to wear a Cowboy uniform.
One thing that was clear before Thomas was involved in an unfortunate incident involving an altercation with his wife and others back in April, an extreme number of Cowboy fans wanted Dallas to acquire the seven-time Pro Bowl safety. From the team’s flirtation with him during the 2018 NFL Draft, the front office in Dallas showed that they also were interested in this future Hall of Famer.
There have been conflicting reports as to whether or not the Ravens are investigating whether Thomas violated his contract. On the surface, that seems like a knee-jerk reaction against what I see is still one of the best safeties in the entire league. There may be more to the story than what we have heard.
According to Jonas Shaffer and Jessica Anderson of The Baltimore Sun, an anonymous team official revealed coaches having concerns about Thomas’s ability to learn the defensive scheme. There was also talk of a potential rift between the veteran safety and his teammates because of his freelancing style of play.
The unnamed source also alleged that the Ravens were made aware of the incident at the same time the public was informed. That could indicate that Thomas did not reach out to the team and tell them about the altercation when it happened.
So let me get this straight. Ravens’ officials get the news about Thomas just like you and I. And their first reaction is to determine whether he violated his contract or not? It seems to me like this franchise might have a case of buyer’s remorse. This is where the Cowboys might come into play.
There is no way I can envision the Cowboys trading any assets to a team that clearly is looking for an early out. If Baltimore decides to cut their losses and release Thomas, Dallas should pounce.
I can already hear the critics asking why would the Cowboys want a player that was involved in this kind of offseason incident and who allegedly doesn’t play within the scheme? The simple answer is that Thomas is still a top-level safety. And I have faith that this new coaching staff in Dallas, led by head coach Mike McCarthy, will cater to a player’s strength instead of forcing them to play a certain scheme.
If Thomas is released, he may be willing to sign a more team-friendly deal than the four-year, $55 million contract ($32 million fully guaranteed) that he inked with the Ravens last March. With teams currently limited in player interaction, just having Thomas, who resides in Austin, in such close proximity to Dallas would give the Cowboys an advantage if he were to become a free agent.
Take a look at the new backup quarterback in Dallas, Andy Dalton. After his release from the Cincinnati Bengals, Dalton was limited when pressed to see team facilities and front office personnel.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, Dalton currently lives about 30 minutes from The Star in Frisco, Texas. It was just so much easier to get a deal done that close to home because of the location. That’s something I can see happening with Thomas as well if he is released.
Now the big question is, what would it cost the Ravens to outright release Thomas? The veteran safety is owed a $10 million bonus this year that is what would be voided if the team can prove he violated his contract in some way. That would allow the Ravens to get out without any salary cap penalty.
If it’s deemed that Thomas did not violate his contract but the Ravens still decided to part ways with him, Baltimore would have $25 million in dead money but gain $10 million in salary-cap space. This stems from his $20 million signing bonus. Releasing Thomas with the June 1st designation would not create any cap space but would lower the dead money to only $15 million this year.
The Dallas Cowboys had plenty of opportunities to acquire Earl Thomas prior to his signing with the Baltimore Ravens last offseason. Will this finally be the year Thomas dons a Cowboys’ uniform?