Ravens Release Earl Thomas

11:37am: The Ravens have released Thomas, the team announced. The wording of the announcement suggests that Baltimore will indeed attempt to void his $10MM guaranteed salary for 2020 for conduct detrimental to the team.

9:12am: The Ravens will trade or release star safety Earl Thomas, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). Thomas got into a physical altercation with teammate Chuck Clark at practice on Friday, and the team sent the three-time First Team All-Pro home on Saturday. Baltimore told Thomas to stay away from the facility today, so it definitely sounded like a parting of the ways was in the works.

Schefter notes in a separate tweet that the Cowboys, who have long been connected to Thomas, are once again a candidate to land him. The ESPN scribe adds that Baltimore has been trying to complete a trade throughout the weekend, though obviously nothing has materialized just yet (Twitter link). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says (via Twitter) that the 49ers and Texans could also be in the mix, while Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News says the Cowboys will not trade for Thomas (Twitter link). Dallas could make a play for him if he is released.

The Ravens’ decision comes just one year after they landed Thomas, arguably the best safety of his generation, on a four-year, $55MM free agent contract. So any club that trades for the 31-year-old would be taking on the remainder of that hefty deal, though Thomas could certainly agree to some sort of restructure in order to facilitate a trade.

Without such a restructure, the Ravens would see a $15MM dead cap charge this year, though Thomas was set to count $15MM against the cap if he stayed with Baltimore, so that’s basically a wash. However, the Ravens would be left with a $10MM dead money hit in 2021 (when the salary cap is likely to be reduced), making this a major financial issue.

Of course, the Ravens don’t have a ton of leverage in trade talks right now, so a release could be forthcoming. If that happens, then obviously the same dead money charges would apply, though Baltimore could try to void Thomas’ guaranteed $10MM salary for 2020 for conduct detrimental to the team, thereby alleviating the burden. Thomas would almost certainly grieve such a move, but Baltimore would stand a good chance of succeeding in the grievance process. After all, the altercation started when Clark, Thomas’ would-be running mate at safety, became upset after Thomas blew a coverage assignment. Clark slammed his helmet to the ground, and Thomas escalated matters by throwing a punch. Thomas later posted a video of the play itself on social media, which is clearly prohibited.

That the Ravens are willing to take on a potentially massive dead cap hit while parting ways with a player like Thomas is indicative of just how bad of a fit he was in the team’s locker room. The incident with Clark, who is well-respected by his teammates, angered a number of prominent players, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic details. And last year, Thomas was late for or missed several team and position meetings, and he reportedly already missed one position meeting this year.

His Ravens teammates had grown weary of his antics and wanted him gone, but they might very well miss his on-field presence. Though Thomas struggled in the early portion of the 2019 campaign as he learned Baltimore’s defensive system, his play improved considerably as the year went on, and opposing offenses generally avoided him. He did not make many splash plays, but he was consistently strong in coverage and earned his seventh career Pro Bowl nod.

For now, Thomas will be replaced by DeShon Elliot, a promising young player who has dealt with injury problems in the early stages of his career. Elliott was selected in the sixth round of the 2018 draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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45 comments on “Ravens Release Earl Thomas

  1. JJB0811

    2 continual playoff teams are getting rid of this guy in back to back years. Of course, he’s perfect for Dallas; all hype.

    • goldenmisfit

      Three time all pro Super Bowl champion considered the best safety of his generation and you say he’s all hype? This is proof you know absolutely nothing about football. My advice keep your mouth shut. Also he was not released by the Seahawks his contract had expired he had no interest in resigning and they did not want to franchise him know your facts dude.

      • JJB0811

        Seattle times Oct 2, 2019: But by all accounts, the Seahawks never offered Thomas an extension prior to his injury and it’s hard to envision that happening now — or that Thomas would agree to one that’s anything shy of the kind of blockbuster deal he wants.If the team ever intended to grant him that large a deal, it would have done so a long time ago.

        Sorta called facts. Seattle was done with him & now the Ravens are as well. Keep living in the past though.

        • yoyo137

          Earl is all over the internet trying to defend himself so I don’t doubt it’s him lol

      • Sponge

        “Keep your mouth shut”? What happened to free speech? Earl is unfortunately over the hill and on the decline. Hey, it happens to all of us. It’s just that some of us handle it better.

        • lmao ‘free speech’. He’s just telling someone to shut up on a comment thread on a sports website. I hardly think the Constitution and the Bill of Rights applies.

          • Smartz1

            LOL true. The 1st amendment doesn’t apply. One prong of the test requires it to be a governmental actor suppressing your speech for it to fall under the amendment. Pretty sure a random poster on a sports website is not a governmental actor.

    • Marvel's MAGA Man

      You’re way off.

      In 2019, he gave up zero touchdowns, a 44% completion rate and a ludicrous 24.2 passer rating when targeted.

      Last year he had a cap hit of 7 mill. Next 3 years its 15 mill, 16 mill, 17 mill.

      Ravens need to money to resign Judon, Stanley, and give Lamar an extension

      They also need to resign or replace Skura, Humphreys, Williams, Brown Jr , Andrews, Peters, Young, Ferguson in the next 3 years.

    • M Haworth

      He can play but he’s was divisive in Seattle the last year and a half. Was glad to see him go. Now he’s had same issues in Baltimore. Dude has some issues.

    • compassrose

      You are a piece of stupid. Like a huge piece. Thomas got caught up in the Sherman Bennett crap Beast Mode was part of it too. I think Carroll should sit down with him and clear the air. He was nothing but class until they started jerking him around on his contract. If they could clear the air Wilson needs to be part too he could come and make our DBs that much better.

      The intelligent fans want him back because the guys in the backfield need to play great to make up for the line. He could play another 3-4 years and retire a Hawk.

      I thought Dallas didn’t have cap space not sure though. I could see SF and be with Sherman again hope not. Come home clear the air the fans will go crazy. Earl is still loved here by intelligent and informed fans.

      • wagner13

        Lol no better way to validate your opinion by calling someone a, “piece of stupid.” I think the OP is referring more to the fact that Thomas repeatedly got into practice fights and missed team meetings, which aren’t exactly high character qualities. The Ravens have a strong lockerroom as well, so that speaks volumes as to how disruptive Thomas really became

      • Compassrose –
        Your first sentence tells me all I need to know about your intelligence. Sounds to me like you, Earl Thomas, and Antonio Brown all share the same brain.

      • Al_Vengenace

        The Baltimore Ravens players would disagree with you as they have grown tired of his missed practices, then earlier this year there was the incident of him cheating on his wife/fiance/girlfriend/whoever she was with another woman along with his own brother…and there was a gun involved and a physical altercation. Now he starts a fight and posts plays from practice on the internet.

        Baltimore has accepted people that have checkered pasts before and given them an opportunity to make good. Bam Morris, Northcutt, Will Hill, etc., and if they’ve had enough of you and are done with you, that means a lot.

        A lot of the issues with Thomas in Baltimore is that they run a different system. A lot of people think he was so good in Seattle because of their system. He came to Baltimore and blew off meetings and didn’t take the time to learn it and he was doing the same this year apparently.

        All the way around Earl Thomas is now an addition by subtraction. I hope the Ravens win their case and he doesn’t get a dime. Then he can become some other team’s headcase.

    • It’s a shame that the NFL can’t have a “complete jack***” clause in their contracts that allows for immediate release without pay

  2. crosseyedlemon

    Kinda interesting that teammates complained about the antics of Thomas but stayed quiet while Lamar tried to recruit AB whose antics would probably be even more extreme.

    • DarkSide830

      “antics” aside, AB is a criminal. Thomas isnt a great guy but hard to measure up to AB.

    • yoyo137

      The difference is AB needs to prove himself and would have to buy into the Ravens and would’ve been cheap to sign. Like the Blazers signing Carmelo Anthony. Earl Thomas only signed with the Ravens for the guaranteed money and didn’t buy into the team concept so he can act however he wants, which is often like a little b word.

  3. TJECK109

    Would be crazy in KC with honey badger like they thought they had done last year.

  4. bens04ter

    no conspiracy theory but let’s do the math…Thomas hunts down Garrett after the game and says come get me…he then signs with Baltimore and truly never wanted to be there but followed the money…cowboys couldn’t commit to his salary demands…he then does what slot of athletes fo, demand a trade or do something to get released…cowboys reconstruct Smith contract and free up space while Thomas starts a fire in baltimore…without ever knowing, he probably has a deal in place with dallas…watch and see how long it takes for him to sign there..

    • yoyo137

      Exactly. You know he’s disloyal, selfish, and overly emotional when he goes and does that right after the game.

  5. db080478

    Hopefully there is enough good talent to fill the void. I think there is but not the coach.

  6. nutznboltz

    The funny thing is that they cut earl Thomas for a disagreement fight whatever you wanna call it with a teammate but yet they considered bringing in Antonio Brown. That makes no sense at all and is laughable.

    • MC Tim C

      1. They didn’t sign Brown though and 2. Lamar wanted AB but not sure there was evidence the Ravens were actually interested

      • crosseyedlemon

        But it does seem odd that none of the Raven players approached Lamar and said “Whoa fella, AB is going to be an even bigger headache than Earl Thomas so you need to do a rethink here”.

        • Al_Vengenace

          That’s because the timeline doesn’t flow in that order. It was AB first, and now the Thomas incident. Not the other way around.

    • Al_Vengenace

      That’s because the timeline doesn’t flow in that order. It was AB first, and now the Thomas incident. Not the other way around. This also isn’t all he’s being cut for. He also shared practice footage on the internet which is strictly prohibited. Then there’s the off field incident involving him, his brother, a woman that isn’t his wife, and his wife, a gun, and a physical altercation.

  7. bumpy93

    come on Philly. we could really use him on our back end. as an Eagle fan we hope he doesn’t land in Dallas. that would be bad. plus Dallas just freed up alot of money by releasing mcCoy this past week. Dallas might be the best team in the NFC East right now, then if they land him the division might be over before it starts

    • If you are a Philly fan then you should be praying for Dallas to waste their shrinking cap money on this this fool who will destroy team chemistry just like he always does

  8. mhdunbar99

    Amazing how far this guys reputation has plummeted the past few years. Thomas and AB are best off joining the circus, not another NFL team. Or maybe better yet, join the TV show “Wife Swap”.

  9. wagner13

    I already mentioned the Ravens could hook up with Clayton Geathers. Another potential option could be LaMarcus Joyner, if the Raiders are willing to eat some of his contract. Oakland foolishly converted him to nickelback, but he played very well for the Rams. Perhaps he would be worth a flier as a bounceback candidate

  10. case7187

    Come to New England replace Chung for a yr and then pats should move on imo they don’t need him but he could help

  11. bradthebluefish

    If you’re willing to do the work and keep out of trouble, New England would be the perfect place for a rebound. Plenty of opportunity.

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