Earl Thomas

NFC Notes: Thomas, Garoppolo, Griffen

The obscene parting shot that Seahawks safety Earl Thomas made in the direction of his team’s bench as he was being carted off the field last week was not directed at any one person or player, but at the Seattle organization as a whole, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. And, even though all signs were already pointing towards a parting of the ways between Thomas, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, and the only NFL team he has ever known, Schefter reports that the Seahawks are not expected to use the franchise tag on Thomas, which all but ensures that he will not return to Seattle in 2019.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Thomas will have surgery to have a rod inserted in his leg this week, which will increase his chances of healing while lowering his chances of a re-fracture, so he is expected to be fully healthy well before free agency officially opens in March.

Now for more from the NFC, starting with another item out of Seattle:

  • Seahawks LB Mychal Kendricks was hit with an indefinite suspension earlier this week, and Schefter reports that Kendricks, his lawyers, and the NFLPA are still battling to prove that the NFL does not have the right to impose such a ban in his case. Instead, Kendricks is arguing that the league should suspend him for a specific number of games, thereby allowing him to return to action this season and play until he receives his sentence for insider trading in January.
  • In keeping with a report from several days ago that 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo underwent successful surgery on his torn ACL, Rapoport tweets that Garoppolo faces a relatively obstacle-free rehab. His ACL was the only thing that needed to be repaired, so he is expected to make a full recovery.
  • We heard at the end of last month that there was no definite timeline for Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen to return to the team, and Schefter reported today that Griffen is not expected to return anytime soon. Griffen, of course, is tending to apparently serious mental health issues.
  • Lions guard T.J. Lang suffered at least the fifth concussion of his career last week, and assuming he wants to continue his career, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com believes 2018 will be his last season in Detroit. Lang is under contract through 2019, but he missed games last year because of brain, back and foot issues, and he is dealing with brain and back issues again this year. He would carry a cap hit of $11.7MM in 2019, and Meinke does not envision Detroit ponying up that kind of cash given Lang’s recent spate of injury problems.
  • The Buccaneers recently worked out former first-round draft choice Paxton Lynch, but Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Bucs have no interest in signing Lynch at this time.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/2/18

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks Dropped Earl Thomas Asking Price Prior To Injury

After a drama-filled offseason, Earl Thomas’ 2018 campaign was cut short due to a broken leg suffered in the Seahawks’ win over the Cardinals this past Sunday. Now, more details are pouring in about Thomas’ status with the team, and a potential trade that was in the works. 

Prior to Thomas’ season-ending injury, the Seahawks dropped their asking price from two second-round picks to one second-round pick for the All-Pro, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. It was reported earlier this morning that the Chiefs were actively engaged in trade talks for Thomas and things got serious enough to where the Chiefs were looking into ways to free up the necessary cap room to take on Thomas’ contract, presumably because of the Seahawks’ reduction in asking price.

It’s a moot point now, but we can glean two things from this bit of news: 1. The Chiefs are very high on Thomas and may profile as suitors for him this offseason and 2. Chiefs GM Brett Veach may be willing to part with considerable draft capital between now and the trade deadline to improve his team. The Chiefs are clearly in win-now mode, and are looking to make a Super Bowl run. Their strong interest in Thomas also shows the team is likely very concerned about the status of All-Pro safety Eric Berry. Berry has yet to play this season as he continues to work his way back from an Achilles injury, and it doesn’t sound like he’ll be suiting up any time soon.

While Thomas was so close to seeing his goal of being traded become a reality, there is some good news for the 29-year-old. Rapoport also reports that the injury is “not expected to effect his free agency negatively.” Thomas’ injury is serious, but is expected to heal fully and not have any lingering impact. Still in his prime, he should still be in for a massive payday next spring.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs, Seahawks Were Nearing Thomas Deal

Earl Thomasseason is over, and so too are his hopes for a trade. But, before the injury, the Chiefs and Seahawks were nearing a blockbuster mid-season swap, according to Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports

The Seahawks and Chiefs were unable to reach a deal before their Week 4 games, but there was “internal optimism something would be struck” before the Oct. 31 deadline, Paylor writes. Had they landed Thomas, the Chiefs would have boasted one of the league’s most formidable safety duos with him and Eric Berry (once Berry is healthy), but that dream will have to be put on hold for now.

Given the Chiefs’ aggressiveness in pursuing Thomas, it seems likely that they’ll go hard after him in March, when he hits the free agent market. Thomas’ beloved Cowboys and other contenders will also follow suit, though Thomas’ earning potential may be capped by the stagnating market for veteran safeties.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, will have to move forward without one of their top defenders and it’s improbable that they’ll retain him in 2019. The silver lining is that Thomas’ departure will contribute to their compensatory pick formula and likely land them a third-round choice in 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Earl Thomas Carted Off Field

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas is done for the year after suffering a lower leg fracture, coach Pete Carroll confirmed (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network). Doctors quickly confirmed the injury after Thomas was carted off of the field and had his leg put in an air-cast. The Seahawks will place Thomas on injured reserve, opening up a spot on the 53-man roster.

It’s devastating news for Thomas, particularly since he is in his contract year. Thomas has been pushing for a new contact all year, and this is exactly the situation he was looking to avoid.

Thomas skipped practice multiple times recently and abstained from training camp while demanding a new deal or a trade. It looked like his holdout was going to last into the regular season, but just before the season started he finally reported and started each of the first four games while continuing to publicly state his dissatisfaction with the Seahawks. The Cowboys reportedly offered a second round pick for Thomas earlier this summer, but were turned down.

When on the field, Thomas has been his normal elite self. He’s one of the best safeties in the game, and is a true difference maker. It’s yet another blow for a Seahawks team that has dealt with a slew of injuries to key players this season. Nothing is certain yet, but it appears highly possible Thomas has played his last down in Seattle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Actively Shopping Le’Veon Bell; Eagles, 49ers Interested

Last week, reports that the Steelers were listening to trade offers for running back Le’Veon Bell became the latest development in the long and winding Bell saga. Today, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) reports that Pittsburgh is actively shopping Bell and is not simply waiting on calls from rival clubs.

In addition to the obvious complications to finalizing a Bell trade — which Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk laid out again today — Rapoport says that the Steelers’ asking price is reportedly too high for other teams at the moment. RapSheet indicates that Pittsburgh is currently asking for a second-round pick and a player in exchange for Bell, which another club is almost certainly not going to give up. Bell’s talent doubtlessly merits such a return, but the fact that he will effectively be a one-year rental — and an expensive rental at that — will limit what the Steelers can get in a Bell swap.

Right now, however, it appears that Pittsburgh is not in any rush to lower its demands. As Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports points out, the trade deadline is still a month away, and the Steelers are currently willing to let the market develop. La Canfora adds that the Jets and 49ers have made “exploratory calls” to Pittsburgh, though San Francisco’s interest in Bell may no longer be very high after the team lost starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the season.

The Eagles, though, are also interested, per La Canfora. The Eagles are obvious contenders and have suffered a number of injuries to their backfield that could prompt the ever-aggressive Howie Roseman to get creative in his push for back-to-back titles. Philadelphia would of course need to clear some cap space in order to acquire Bell, but there are ways to do that (like jettisoning backup QB Nick Foles).

La Canfora writes that the Steelers would be willing to deal one disgruntled star for another by sending Bell to the Seahawks in exchange for safety Earl Thomas, but there has been no contact between Pittsburgh and Seattle at this point.

Indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that no team has been aggressive in pursuing Bell thus far. That jibes with a tweet from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who says that there is minimal trade buzz surrounding Bell at the moment.

Schefter also notes that, the longer Bell stays away from the Steelers, the more he could lose on his 2019 pay. For instance, if any team were to use the transition tag on Bell next season, the tag number would be 120 percent of this season’s salary, so the more 2018 game checks Bell misses out on, the lower the tag number would be. Of course, Bell could appeal such a matter to an arbitrator, but his holdout is becoming riskier with each passing week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Thomas, Bradford, Eagles, Reid

The Seahawks have indeed fined safety Earl Thomas, who missed practice for non-injury reasons for the second consecutive week. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Seahawks — who were considering imposing a substantial fine on Thomas last Sunday — fined the star defender for missing practice and for “other things.” Rapoport adds that “communication should increase going forward,” but it is presently unclear as to whether he is referring to communication between Thomas and Seattle or between Seattle and other clubs who may want to trade for Thomas. We heard earlier today that the Steelers were interested in Thomas, but there has been no communication between Seattle and Pittsburgh at this point.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds that the Seahawks are still asking for a second-round pick for Thomas, and that the Chiefs remain interested (though Kansas City does not want to give up a second-rounder). The Cowboys, of course, offered a second-round pick to Seattle earlier this year, but the Seahawks wanted more from Dallas at the time since the two teams were set to play each other last week. Now that the Cowboys-Seahawks matchup has taken place, perhaps the Seahawks will be more willing to consider the Cowboys’ offer, but Rapoport indicates (video link) that the Seahawks want two second round picks in exchange for Thomas, which seems like an especially lofty asking price.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Sam Bradford is now the Cardinals‘ No. 3 quarterback, per Schefter, who says that going forward, rookie Josh Rosen will be the starter and will be backed up by Mike Glennon (Twitter link). That means that Bradford will generally be inactive on game days and will miss out on his active roster bonuses of $312,500 per game, a situation we explored in more detail last week.
  • Another tough blow for Rams outside linebacker Dominique Easley. Per the team’s official website, Easley, who has suffered three torn ACLs since 2011, may be heading for his fourth surgery in the last seven years. Head coach Sean McVay said that Easley, who converted to outside linebacker during training camp, is suffering complications from his previous injuries.
  • Prior to signing him a few days ago, the Panthers did not ask new safety Eric Reid about his anthem protests or his collusion case against the league, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. GM Marty Hurney said team ownership was not involved in the signing, and that it was a purely football move.
  • Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery will make his 2018 debut today, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (via Twitter). Rapoport (video link) reports that Jeffery’s status for this week was up in the air because of a virus that made him seriously ill, but that his shoulder is good to go.
  • As Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes, the Eagles have four prominent starters playing out the final year of their respective contracts: Jordan Hicks, Ronald Darby, Jay Ajayi, and Brandon Graham. Even if the Eagles wait until after the 2019 season to give quarterback Carson Wentz what will surely be a massive extension, Philadelphia has to plan for that contract now, which means the club will have some difficult decisions to make with respect to its impending free agents. McLane posits that Hicks is the most likely of the above-named players to be retained, and he examines the futures of all four players in detail.
  • Jane Slater of the NFL Network reports that Cowboys WR Terrance Williams will be inactive today, and that the recently re-signed Brice Butler will be leaned upon more heavily as a result (Twitter link). Williams, the most expensive receiver on Dallas’ roster, may be facing a suspension stemming from his May arrest and recently missed practice, though that absence was reportedly an excused one and was unrelated to the possible suspension. Williams, though, has just two catches for 18 yards this season, and the team wants to give someone else a shot.

Seahawks’ Earl Thomas Skips Practice Again

Recently, Earl Thomas skipped two Seahawks practices inside of a week. Unfortunately for Seattle, this could be the start of a pattern. On Wednesday, Thomas missed yet another team practice for non-injury reasons, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) hears. 

Thomas is in the final year of his contract and is frustrated after unsuccessfully pushing the team for a new deal. Thomas has said that he would like to stay with the Seahawks “if they want him,” but if they don’t want to pay him at the top of the safety market, he would likely prefer a trade elsewhere.

The veteran’s warm feelings towards the Cowboys have been well-documented and were underscored last week when he bowed to the Dallas bench after an interception. There are conflicting reports as to whether the Cowboys are likely to trade for him, though it’s believed that the Chiefs could make a play for Thomas. If Thomas continues to express his frustration by skipping practice, the Seahawks could be motivated to move on from him before the Halloween deadline.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Thomas, Lee, Packers

Seven workouts has not yet produced an addition to San Francisco’s quarterback room, and one may not be coming despite the new 49ers backup being a former UDFA only promoted to the active roster this week. The 49ers do not plan to sign a veteran quarterback this week, NFL.com’s Jim Trotter tweets. While he adds that remains a possibility in the near future, don’t expect an outside addition to come this week. E.J. Manuel, Tom Savage, Kellen Clemens, T.J. Yates, Landry Jones, Matt Simms and Kyle Allen all worked out for the 49ers. But the NFC’s Bay Area team is evidently set with a C.J. BeathardNick Mullens depth chart heading into its Week 4 clash with the Chargers. The 49ers’ chances of being a surprise playoff contender absorbed a massive blow last week when Jimmy Garoppolo went down, and Kyle Shanahan said any veteran added would not be a threat to usurp Beathard. The second-year Iowa product started five games last season, completing 54.9 percent of his passes and throwing four touchdown passes compared to six interceptions. The 49ers went 1-4 in those games.

Here’s the latest from the NFC:

  • The Cowboys‘ defensive fortunes have generally taken hits when Sean Lee isn’t available, and the linebacker’s latest absence comes at a bad time for the 1-2 team. Dallas will be without its top linebacker for a few weeks “at least,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Lee suffered a hamstring injury on Sunday. This latest setback involves Lee’s right hamstring. A left hamstring issue caused him to miss time last season. First-round pick Leighton Vander Esch now stands to see a more prominent role in the near future.
  • Dallas remains the favorite to acquire Earl Thomas, in the event the Seahawks trade him, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com writes. Thomas drew a penalty for bowing at the Cowboys’ bench following an interception in Seattle’s Week 3 win over Dallas. The Cowboys have offered a second-round pick for Thomas, but the Seahawks still want more. The safety nonetheless heard more rumblings about a deal with Dallas on Sunday, though. “Yeah, of course, I heard chatter. People were coming up to me and saying a trade might happen,” Thomas said. “Even pregame, a couple Cowboys coaches came up to me, I don’t know if they were playing psychological games, but they were like, ‘You ready for the trade tomorrow?” He remains a Seahawk, but the situation’s become quite strange.
  • Thomas said after Seattle’s win he missed two practices last week to protect himself from injury, and he expects to be fined for the absences. This is consistent with a report that emerged pregame Sunday. “I need to make sure my body is 100,” he said, via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. “I’m invested in myself. If they was invested in me, I would be out there practicing. But if I feel like anything — I don’t give a damn if it’s small, I’ve got a headache — I’m not practicing. But I don’t want that to be taken the wrong way. I know I’m going to get fined. But that’s just where I’m at with that.” Pete Carroll said the Seahawks still “love” Thomas as a person and a player and described communication between the team and the All-Pro safety as “ongoing.” Carroll did not specify if this communication is regarding an extension.
  • The Packers are preparing to start Byron Bell at right guard on Sunday against the Bills, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Justin McCray is dealing with a shoulder injury, one the Packers don’t believe will be a long-term issue. However, Bell is expected to step in for the time being. An eighth-year player, Bell’s spent almost the entirety of his career at tackle. He has previously played guard but hasn’t worked there nearly as much as he has on the edge.

Falcons Not Interested In Earl Thomas, Eric Reid

Falcons coach Dan Quinn says the team is not interested in acquiring a high profile safety such as Earl Thomas or Eric Reid, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Although the team has lost starter Ricardo Allen for the season, Quinn says he’s confident in the ability of Damontae Kazee to hold down free safety with Jordan Richards and Kemal Ishmael at strong safety. 

Quinn added that Reid’s participation in national anthem protests were not a factor in the team’s decision. Rather, he says that he likes the team’s internal options.

As for Thomas, one has to imagine that the Falcons are simply unwilling to pay the necessary price to acquire him from the Seahawks in a trade. Thomas has been vocal about his desire for a new deal and trade speculation is percolating once again after the three-time All-Pro skipped two practices inside of one week.

While the Chiefs and Cowboys could be among the clubs to pursue Thomas, it sounds like the Falcons can be scratched off of the list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.