Well known to have pursued Earl Thomas, the Chiefs were incredibly close to having one of the highest-profile safety tandems in recent NFL history.
Thomas committed to sign with the Chiefs the night before he agreed to terms with the Ravens, the new Baltimore defender said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast this week (video link). Thomas provided details on what was a one-year Kansas City offer.
“I had committed there on a one-year deal worth like $12MM,” Thomas said, “and the next morning I woke up, my agents called me and told me I had a better offer with the Ravens, so I definitely took that offer real quick.”
Having recently seen money become available after C.J. Mosley accepted a monster Jets offer, the Ravens swooped in with a four-year, $55MM Thomas proposal. Thomas said he was on the phone with Andy Reid the night before he agreed to the Ravens’ terms and indicated his family was packing up for a flight to Missouri. While more low-key, with no agreement having been widely reported, Thomas’ free agency appears to have unfolded in a fairly similar fashion as Anthony Barr‘s.
“The Chiefs actually were about to send me a private jet and me and the family were packing up, getting ready to go, get on the jet, go to Kansas City, and I woke up the next morning and my agents told me that Baltimore really wanted me and they offered me a megadeal, and I took that,” Thomas said.
The Chiefs opened free agency by authorizing a $14MM-AAV deal for Tyrann Mathieu. They were clearly quite close to pairing him with Thomas. Eric Berry was still on Kansas City’s roster at that point, but the team released its three-time All-Pro safety hours after the Ravens pried Thomas away. Before going down with a season-ending injury, Thomas was rumored as a Chiefs trade target as well. It is not known if Thomas gave the Chiefs a chance to match the Ravens’ offer, though they certainly could have given that the subsequent Ravens agreement occurred before the new league year began.
Thomas added that the Cowboys, who offered a second-round pick for him last year, did not seriously pursue him in free agency. The Cowboys did not come forward with the kind of money the Ravens or Chiefs did, per Thomas.
Kansas City has made some major changes to its defense, cutting Berry and Justin Houston and trading Dee Ford. Lower-profile defensive ends Alex Okafor and Emmanuel Ogbah have since signed, joining Mathieu, Damien Wilson and Bashaud Breeland as notable K.C. offseason defensive additions. But a Chiefs team that ranked 31st against the pass (though 12th in pass-defense DVOA) still could use some help in the secondary.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.