Earl Thomas

Chargers Not Pursuing Earl Thomas

Despite carrying one of the league’s most talented secondaries to training camp, the Chargers are in familiar trouble. Derwin Jamesknee issue will cost him games at the start of a season for the second straight year.

The Bolts have four All-Pros in their secondary but are missing their highest-ceiling talent for the foreseeable future. They are not interested in the All-Pro safety currently in free agency. Anthony Lynn said Monday the team is not planning to pursue Earl Thomas, per The Athletic’s Daniel Popper (on Twitter).

Even without James, Los Angeles’ secondary includes Casey Hayward, Desmond King and free agency addition Chris Harris. King, a 2018 All-Pro cornerback who saw action at safety in college, has been working as a second-string safety in camp. The Bolts also have 2019 second-round pick Nasir Adderley and 2019 substitute starter Rayshawn Jenkins. They drafted Alohi Gilman in this year’s sixth round. It appears Los Angeles will stick with its in-house options to replace James.

The Ravens released Thomas earlier this month. Joining Harris on the 2010s’ All-Decade team, Thomas certainly carries top-flight ability. Even entering his age-31 season, the three-time All-Pro is one of the game’s top safeties. But he suddenly carries some baggage. Teams are clearly doing homework on the former Legion of Boom centerpiece, but as of Monday, his market has not seen much momentum.

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Ravens Frontrunners To Sign Jadeveon Clowney?

The Ravens find themselves with a bit of surprise salary cap room following the release of safety Earl Thomas earlier this week. Baltimore is attempting to void Thomas’ guaranteed 2020 salary of $10MM pursuant to the personal conduct provision of his contract, so the club will temporarily pick up an extra $10MM of cap space.

As Joel Corry of CBS Sports details, that number will drop to $6MM once Thomas files his inevitable grievance, and $4MM will become a cap charge under the terms of the CBA. If Thomas prevails in the grievance, the $6MM of newfound space will of course be added back to the Ravens’ books, and if the team prevails, it will be credited back the $4MM hold.

But the grievance may not be resolved until 2021, so it’s looking as if the Ravens will indeed have another $6MM to play with this year. And while the expected salary cap decrease in 2021 and the upcoming fight with the union over Thomas’ salary could make Baltimore hesitant to spend that money, the club currently profiles as a Super Bowl favorite, so it might make sense to add another piece that can aid in the push for a Lomabrdi Trophy. Plus, Thomas did have offset language in his contract, so if and when he signs with another club, Baltimore will get at least some cap relief regardless of how the grievance process unfolds.

Enter Jadeveon Clowney. The most-discussed free agent of the 2020 offseason is still without a home, and while the Ravens have been loosely connected to him over the past few months, his salary demands have been viewed as an insurmountable obstacle. However, Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network said in a recent podcast that league insiders believe Clowney will ultimately land with Baltimore (via Cole Thompson of Pro Football Network).

As Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic points out, the Ravens have monitored Clowney’s market, but even when accounting for an extra $6MM of cap space, the club has just $13MM to work with and will want to keep about half of that in reserve. So if Clowney is to end up in the Purple-and-Black, it will be for a salary in the $6-7MM range — which feels like an absolute non-starter for him — or the team will need to get creative.

Clowney does make plenty of sense for Baltimore. The team has beefed up its defensive front this offseason but could still use another proven pass rusher behind Matt Judon, and Clowney’s skills against the run would make him a valuable chess piece in DC Wink Martindale‘s creative schemes. The team has also expressed interest in Ziggy Ansah, who is a more one-dimensional player but who would come much cheaper than Clowney.

Interestingly, Pauline says the division-rival Steelers have also been sniffing around Clowney, but Pittsburgh has even less cap space than Baltimore and would likely need to trade Bud Dupree to make a Clowney deal work.

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AFC North Notes: Green, Browns, Ravens

In addition to the lengthy foot rehab in which A.J. Green participated recently, the veteran Bengals wide receiver missed more than a week of training camp because of a hamstring issue. Green entered Wednesday having not practice since August 17, but the 10th-year receiver was back in action this afternoon, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tyler Dragon (on Twitter). While Green was wearing a sleeve on his left leg, he was working in pads for the Bengals for the first time since last year. The 32-year-old wideout missed all of last year but did practice at points during the season. The Bengals placed the franchise tag on their longtime standout, who is set to play the 2020 season on a $17.9MM salary.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Already down rookie safety Grant Delpit for the season, the Browns will be without their other LSU cog in the secondary for an undetermined time frame. Greedy Williams is dealing with a shoulder injury, and new Browns HC Kevin Stefanski has yet to indicate that the first-string cornerback will be able to return soon, per Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Williams missed four games last season but started all 12 in which he played.
  • The Browns should be expected to explore an Earl Thomas addition, per Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson (on Twitter), but the team may not be a frontrunner. Cleveland lost Delpit but has offseason acquisitions Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo in the fold.
  • On the subject of Thomas, his subtraction from the Ravens secondary will indeed bump third-year safety DeShon Elliott into the starting lineup. John Harbaugh confirmed the former sixth-round pick will receive the first crack at replacing Thomas alongside Chuck Clark, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes (subscription required). This will be an interesting promotion, with Elliott having only played in six games during his two-year career. Elliott landed on Baltimore’s IR in both 2018 and ’19, missing all of his rookie season and the latter portion of last season.
  • The quartet of kickers the Browns worked out last week does not represent an immediate threat to Austin Seibert‘s job. Instead, the team is forming an emergency list due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Of course, other teams can and have adjusted this list. The Patriots signed one of the kickers the Browns previously brought in, Nick Folk, earlier this week. The Browns also worked out Cody Parkey, Kai Forbath and Matthew McCrane.

Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy Doesn’t Want Earl Thomas?

Jerry Jones is still on board, but Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is less-than-enthusiastic about the prospect of signing Earl Thomas, Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears. McCarthy, who places a major emphasis on locker room culture, is concerned about the veteran safety’s fit in Dallas.

Thomas, a seven-time Pro Bowler, left his past two clubs on bad terms. As one league source told Werder, “Contact anyone you know with the Ravens or the Seahawks and ask if the positives outweigh the negatives.” In Seattle, Thomas literally left the team with an extended middle finger as he was carted off of the field. In Baltimore, Thomas failed to grasp the playbook in his first year and wore out his welcome last week when he got into an altercation with a teammate.

Still, the final decision ultimately lies with Jones, who has made no secret of his fondness for the safety. Thomas has reciprocated, on several occasions through multiple channels. Thomas might not be the prototypical team player, but his potential as a game-changer is undeniable. Thomas has spent the bulk of his career as one of the NFL’s very best safeties, resulting in 713 tackles and 30 interceptions over the course of his career.

For now, the Cowboys are set to start the season with new addition Ha Ha Clinton-DixXavier Woods, and Darian Thompson as the leaders of the group.

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Latest On Cowboys, Earl Thomas

Will the Cowboys’ longstanding love affair with Earl Thomas result in a deal? That depends on who you ask. The Cowboys are not expected to pursue Thomas, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link) and other reports from earlier this week. However, in an interview with 105.3 The Fan, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did not rule out the possibility of signing the safety (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). 

Jones explained that the Cowboys have discussed Thomas internally and considered him against their current group of safeties. Next, Jones says he’ll chat directly with Thomas’ agent.

Thomas, a seven-time Pro Bowler, quickly wore out his welcome with the Ravens. His final years with the Seahawks played out similarly and included several overt S.O.S. signals to the Cowboys. In theory, the Cowboys don’t need Thomas, thanks to the addition of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Still, it’s hard to pass up the chance to add Thomas to the group, which also includes Xavier Woods and Darian Thompson.

Thomas, 31, registered 49 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and four passes defensed in his first season with the Ravens. For his career, Thomas has notched 713 stops, 30 interceptions, and three First-Team All-Pro nods.

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Falcons, Texans Won’t Pursue Earl Thomas

The Falcons won’t make a play for Earl Thomas, according to head coach Dan Quinn (Twitter link via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Journal Constitution). The same goes for the Texans, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). 

[RELATED: Ravens Release Earl Thomas]

Quinn, who coached the seven-time Pro Bowler in Seattle, knows what Thomas can bring to the table. At the same time, he’s happy with his current group. The Falcons will start Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen at safety with support from Damontae Kazee, veteran J.J. Wilcox, and rookie Jaylinn Hawkins.

He is absolutely one of my all-time favorite competitors,” Quinn said. “I love the guy. But at this time that’s a position that we are not looking to add to at this time.”

The Texans were connected to Thomas shortly after his release from the Ravens and he seemed to pick up an endorsement from quarterback Deshaun Watson on Instagram. The Texans have been in the safety market for a long time, but they seem prepared to move forward with Justin Reid, Eric Murray, and the rest of their current group.

The Cowboys reportedly won’t get involved with Thomas either, despite years of mutual interest. Thomas shouldn’t have trouble finding work, but he’s down at least three potential suitors.

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Cowboys Won’t Pursue Earl Thomas?

The Cowboys have been connected with Earl Thomas for years, but there’s “nothing” brewing on that front right now, a source tells Mike Florio of PFT. Thomas, of course, is newly available following his release from the Ravens. 

[RELATED: Ravens Release Earl Thomas]

The Cowboys tried to pry Thomas away from the Seahawks two years ago when he was entangled in a contractual dispute with the team. Thomas, meanwhile, added fuel to the fire by repeatedly expressing his love for the Cowboys. The multiple-time Pro Bowler bowed to the Dallas bench after an interception, cut plans short to catch the Cowboys on TV, and leaked further word of his interest to the press through backchannels.

Ultimately, those trade talks were not fruitful. Last year, the Cowboys stood pat as Thomas made the rounds in free agency, but that likely had more to do with his asking price than anything else.

Historically, the Cowboys have been willing to take chances on players with red flags, but Thomas’ rocky year with Baltimore may have dulled their interest. It’s also possible that the Cowboys are finally comfortable with their safety situation after adding Ha Ha Clinton-Dix earlier in the offseason.

As Thomas looks for his next opportunity, he’ll likely have his reps battle things out with the Ravens. The Ravens’ official announcement of the release cited “personal conduct that has adversely affected” the team. As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link) notes, that wording indicates that the Ravens will come after Thomas for money.

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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.

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Latest On Ravens, Earl Thomas

Aug. 23: Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reports that Thomas is not expected to be back at the Ravens’ facility today (video link). As ESPN’s Ed Werder observes (via Twitter), the fact that Thomas is being asked to stay away without any public assurances about his future could be significant. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says the team should make a final decision today (video link).

Aug. 22: The Ravens sent Earl Thomas home on Saturday, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. This comes one day after Thomas’ practice altercation with teammate Chuck Clark, which also prompted the Ravens to send the safety packing for the afternoon. 

The Ravens are now evaluating their options, though Thomas’ deal does not afford them an easy escape hatch. The Ravens may be able to escape Thomas’ fully-guaranteed 2020 salary of $10MM if they suspend him for conduct detrimental to the team, PFT’s Mike Florio writes. Of course, Thomas would fight such a move and the Ravens would have to support their argument in arbitration. If they can’t get his 2020 salary off the books with a suspension, cutting Thomas would leave the Ravens with a $5MM cap charge this year and $10MM next year. Meanwhile, Thomas would leave $22MM richer, after just one season with the Ravens.

This isn’t the first time Thomas has found himself at odds with team management. The Pro Bowler got into a scuffle with teammate Brandon Williams after a game last season and never seemed to fully grasp the playbook. Thomas, 31, registered 49 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and four passes defensed in his first season with Baltimore.

Before Thomas came to Baltimore, and before things turned sour, he spent nine years in Seattle as one of the premier safeties in the NFL. His platform year was largely wiped out by a broken leg, but he still found a solid four-year, $55MM deal payday. Thomas came to Baltimore with three first-team All-Pro nods, two second-team All-Pro selections, and six Pro Bowl trips. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus regularly ranked him among the NFL’s best at his position.

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Ravens Won’t Void Earl Thomas’ Deal

This week, the Ravens were said to be internally discussing Earl Thomas‘ strange incident in Texas and whether it would classify as a violation of his existing contract. Even if they want to penalize or void a portion of Thomas’ deal, they won’t be able to, according to a source with knowledge of the contract who spoke with Mike Florio of PFT

[RELATED: Ravens Sign J.K. Dobbins]

Thomas signed with the Ravens on a four-year, $55MM deal last year. That pact calls included substantial guarantees, including a guaranteed salary of $10MM for 2020. The Ravens can’t back out of it, and that’s no real surprise. According to the police report, Thomas’ wife allegedly pointed a gun at him and chased him with a knife after she – allegedly – caught him in the act of cheating. Had it been the other way around, the Ravens would have a case for terminating the contract. But, with Thomas on the other end of it, they have no real case.

According to that anonymously-sourced report from earlier this week, the Ravens have been less-than-thrilled with Thomas’ conduct and ability to grasp the playbook. Even if that’s true, the strange events in Austin, TX won’t allow Baltimore to back out of the deal.

Thomas, 31, registered 49 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and four passes defensed in his first season with the Ravens.

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