Earl Thomas

Extra Points: Cowboys, Chiefs, Darkwa

Jerry Jones only helped add fuel to the fire today regarding Earl Thomas potentially joining the Cowboys. When asked if the organization would pursue some help at safety, the team’s owner made his answer pretty clear.

“Yes,” Jones told ESPN’s Todd Archer (Twitter link). “That’s about all I’ll say, but yes.”

Of course, it’s important to note that Jones never explicitly mentioned Thomas, but it’s pretty easy to assume that the organization will pursue the veteran defensive back. The mutual interest between the two sides has been covered extensively, although the NFL recently made it clear that the Cowboys didn’t tamper when it came to the 29-year-old.

Of course, Dallas ultimately may look to leverage Thomas’ interest in joining the Cowboys. The team is projected to have around $50MM in cap space, but a solid portion of that total will go towards a DeMarcus Lawrence franchise tag and other extensions. As a result, the team may not have a whole lot of money to give Thomas.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • The Chiefs have finalized their defensive coaching staff under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. As Brooke Pryor of KansasCity.com writes, the biggest addition was defensive line coach and run game coordinator Brendan Daly, who previously served in that role with the Patriots. The organization has also added linebackers coach Matt House, defensive backs coach Dave Merritt, defensive backs/cornerbacks coach Sam Madison, linebackers coach Britt Reid, defensive quality control coach Terry Bradden, and defensive assistant Alex Whittingham.
  • Steelers linebacker Jon Bostic may have appeared in all 16 games this season, but his role was reduced as the season went on. While the journeyman may be able to find a bigger role elsewhere, he’s still hoping to stay in Pittsburgh. “Obviously this is my first year here and whatnot; hopefully we can make this place a home,” Bostic told Chris Adamski of TribLive.com. “It’s been a fun year; definitely didn’t go the way we would have planned (missing the playoffs). But that’s football. You can’t plan everything out. But I do (feel like the Steelers’ organization can be home).” Bostic is set to earn $1.8MM next season, and the team would be left with only $700K in dead cap if they released the 27-year-old.
  • It sounds like we now have an explanation for why Orleans Darkwa never joined an NFL team last season. The veteran running back told ESPN’s Jordan Raanan that he tore the Achilles tendon in his right leg during an October audition with the Jaguars. The 26-year-old was coming off his most productive NFL season in 2017, rushing for 751 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 171 carries. The Giants had offered him a contract that would have kept him in New York, and he also received interest from the Redskins, Patriots, and Bills.

NFC East Notes: Thomas, Eli, Guice, Eagles

Linked for more than a year now, Earl Thomas and the Cowboys could be a match soon. Thomas seems certain to hit the market, and the Cowboys offered a second-round pick for him last year. It would only take money to bring Thomas to Dallas this year, but the sides may not be as strong of a match. The Cowboys hold nearly $50MM in cap space, but a big chunk of that will likely go to another DeMarcus Lawrence franchise tag. Other funds will be earmarked for extensions for several young talents. The Cowboys could use safety help, but Albert Breer of SI.com does not get the vibe the organization will be ready to shell out top-end safety money to bring Thomas to Dallas.

On the eve of the franchise tag window opening, here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • More evidence for the Eli Manning-will-be-back noise: the 15-year Giants quarterback has been working out at the team facility throughout the offseason, Breer notes. While this is not unusual, as Manning does this annually, his conditioning headquarters may have shifted had the Giants given him an indication they were legitimately considering moving on from him. Although nothing concrete has emerged on this front yet, Manning remaining the starter is the expectation for 2019.
  • The Redskins have experienced some significant trouble with infections lately, with the respective recoveries of Alex Smith and Derrius Guice delayed because of post-surgery complications. Guice’s road back from a torn ACL was sidetracked by two months, but the running back is now sprinting full speed again. The LSU product revealed in a first-person recovery diary for the Redskins’ website (via J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington) he has yet to cut at full speed, though. Training camp, and not OTAs, may be the goal, Finlay points out. That would not be a surprise given how quickly Guice went down last year.
  • With the Broncos completing a trade for Joe Flacco — a move the Redskins explored — might Washington attempt to pursue Case Keenum? Washington’s financial obligations seem likely to prevent that, Finlay writes. Smith and Colt McCoy combine for nearly $25MM of Washington’s cap space, and Finlay expects Keenum — even in the event Denver releases him — to command a high-end backup deal. Chase Daniel‘s accord averages $5MM per year, and Keenum’s 2017 season would seemingly make him likely to surpass that. However, if Washington won’t pay a high-seven-figure sum for a veteran on Keenum’s level, pursuing Teddy Bridgewater would be difficult. If the Redskins are to chase a veteran to start over McCoy, they will likely have to at least enter high-end backup spending territory.
  • Although Jason Kelce said immediately after the Eagles‘ divisional-round loss he was considering retirement, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia gets the sense the All-Pro center is leaning toward returning for 2019. Kelce is only 31 and may have another contract to come. But for now, he’s attached to an Eagles-friendly deal that has him making $6.5MM salary. No guaranteed money remains on Kelce’s deal, which he signed in February 2014.

NFL: Cowboys Did Not Tamper With Earl Thomas

Earl Thomas‘ flirtations with the Cowboys have been well-documented. The Cowboys, some say, have flirted back, but the league found no wrongdoing on the part of the organization, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets

Over the last year, Thomas has professed his love to the Cowboys in a number of ways. He bowed to the Dallas bench after an interception in September, cut plans short to catch the Cowboys on TV, and likely leaked further word of his interest to the press through backchannels.

Meanwhile, it was alleged that Cowboys staff members made comments to Thomas before a game this year that may have violated tampering laws. It’s unclear whether such comments were actually made, but in any event, the league will not pursue the allegations.

The Cowboys flirted with the idea of a Thomas trade, but all trade discussions were brought to a screeching halt when Thomas was carted off of the field with a season-ending leg fracture. While being carted off of the field, Thomas flipped off his own bench.

After wrapping up his four-year, $40MM extension, Thomas will be an unrestricted free agent in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.