Earl Thomas

West Rumors: Seahawks, Broncos, Brock

As he did during minicamp, Bobby Wagner attended Seahawks practice but merely as an observer. Pete Carroll confirmed (via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson) the Seahawks and their four-time All-Pro linebacker are discussing an extension but did not elaborate on where the sides are in the process. Longtime Wagner linebacker sidekick K.J. Wright believes a deal is imminent, however. Any extension would probably have to make Wagner the highest-paid off-ball linebacker, and while Deion Jones‘ recent Falcons re-up bridged the gap between C.J. Mosley‘s $17MM-AAV pact and the field, the Jets linebacker still makes over $2.5MM per year more than any other traditional ‘backer. Wagner has confirmed he wants to exceed Mosley’s deal, and this may lead to the eighth-year standout continuing his hold-in strategy.

Shifting first to a former Seahawk who took a different contract-seeking approach last year, here is the latest from out west:

  • Earl Thomas skipped all Seahawks activities before making a pre-Week 1 return last year. Now with the Ravens, Thomas said (via ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson, video link) Carroll communicated to him the week of his season-ending injury indicating an interest in working out a long-term deal. The reason Thomas then flipped off Carroll as he was being carted away? The three-time All-Pro did not believe Carroll was being honest with him. He and Carroll have not spoken since. The Seahawks were not linked to a potential Thomas reunion this offseason.
  • John Elway praised Joe Flacco throughout the Broncos‘ offseason program. One of the reasons why Elway targeted him was a belief the Ravens did not surround him with enough talent or a good system, after Gary Kubiak left his OC post to become Broncos HC in 2015, during his latter years in Baltimore. New Denver OC Rich Scangarello‘s system is derived from Kubiak’s. “To me, he hasn’t had a great system and he hasn’t had great people around him,” Elway said, via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala (subscription required). “So he can have success when you have people around him and he’s in the right system, which I think he is because this is the system he’s had success in.” The Broncos, who relied heavily on Emmanuel Sanders and Phillip Lindsay last season before their year-ending injuries, are banking on second-year wideouts Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton making strides in Year 2.
  • While Mike Munchak lost out to Vic Fangio in the pursuit of Denver’s HC job, the Broncos’ offensive line coach has seen his role quickly expand. Munchak now has influence over the Broncos’ passing game and rushing attack, Jhabvala notes. Munchak worked as the Steelers’ O-line coach the past five seasons — each ending with a Pittsburgh top-10 offensive ranking.
  • The Cardinals are focusing Tramaine Brock on a role as a slot cornerback, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. Brock mostly played outside under Vance Joseph last season, prior to Chris Harris‘ season-ending injury. On the outside, second-round pick Byron Murphy and second-year corner Chris Jones are the top candidates vying to play opposite Robert Alford. This arrangement looks like the plan until Patrick Peterson returns from his six-game suspension.

Earl Thomas Committed To Chiefs Deal Prior To Ravens Offer

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.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Jackson

Entering another will-they/won’t-they draft regarding a first-round quarterback investment, the Giants have been setting up meetings with the top prospects. John Mara confirmed he wants the Giants to come away with a quarterback in this year’s first round, and the Giants now have two of the first 17 selections in this draft. But the owner will not force a need pick, despite how glaring the need is.

I would like to come out of this draft with a quarterback, but here’s the thing: Show me what the grades are,” Mara said, via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. “What’s the value?,” Mara said. “If the top quarterbacks are graded towards the bottom of the first round or even the second round, I’m not going to insist that we take one at No. 6 or even No. 17.”

Rumors have emerged about the Giants cooling on this year’s crop of quarterbacks, but that could change after visits and workouts. They are not looking to package their Nos. 6 and 17 picks to move up, either. Dave Gettleman does not believe a non-first-round pick will cut it as Eli Manning‘s successor, so this draft figures to be critical. But the 2020 class is, as of now, viewed as a better potential crop of passers, complicating Big Blue’s scenario.

The worst thing you can do is try to force the issue and then you end up with a quarterback that isn’t worth taking at the particular spot,” Mara said. “Would we love to have a quarterback coming out of this draft? Yes, but only if we have a conviction about him. And we’re not there yet.”

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Although Amari Cooper showed immense promise with the Cowboys, he has produced uneven work samples the past two seasons. Nevertheless, the Cowboys are committed and ready to discuss a high-end extension. The new deal for Antonio Brown and one that may be coming for Julio Jones have not fazed Dallas, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). The Cowboys were planning a re-up for the former top-five pick immediately after acquiring him, but after Cooper posted two 180-yard games (prior to three sub-35-yard showings), the negotiations figure to be more interesting.
  • The Cowboys’ glut of extension-eligible young talents likely steered them away from Earl Thomas. Their top bid was not going to contend with the Ravens’, Jerry Jones said (via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, on Twitter). Thomas signed a four-year, $55MM deal. The Cowboys are still looking at safeties.
  • It does not look like Brandon Graham will be moving inside as much in 2019. On passing downs, the Eagles want to deploy Malik Jackson as the interior sub-package pass rusher alongside Fletcher Cox, filling the Michael Bennett role, Howie Roseman said (via Philly.com’s Zach Berman, on Twitter). This adds up, considering Jackson has been an interior defender for most of his career. Having added Jackson and brought back Vinny Curry, the Eagles’ defensive line again profiles as one of the NFL’s deepest position groups.

Earl Thomas Was Close To Signing With Chiefs

Before he inked a lucrative contract with the Ravens, Earl Thomas thought he was heading to Kansas City. The veteran safety told the team website that he was set to sign a one- or two-year deal with the Chiefs before Baltimore came calling.

“I thought I was going to go Kansas City on like a two-year deal, one-year deal, and I was just going to bet on myself and hit the market again [next year or in 2021], and then my agents called me,” Thomas said (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “They said that Baltimore has made a deal for you. I said, ‘Hell, yeah. That’s where I’m going.’”

Thomas ended up signing a four-year, $55MM deal ($32MM guaranteed) with Baltimore. The 29-year-old was hoping to become the highest-paid safety in the NFL, and he came relatively close to achieving that. While his $13.75MM average annual value is higher than Thomas’s $13MM asking price, it still trails the new contracts signed by Landon Collins (Redskins) and Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs).

Speaking of Mathieu, it’s uncertain if the Chiefs were pursuing Thomas before or after they added their free agent acquisition. The team presumably could have slid both Mathieu and Thomas into the starting lineup, especially after Kansas City let go of veteran Eric Berry. As of right now, Eric Murray is projected to start opposite Mathieu. The Chiefs have also added safeties Dontae Johnson and Harold Jones-Quartey this offseason.

Thomas, 29, spent nine years in Seattle as arguably the premier safety in the NFL, but his final years with the Seahawks were tinged with his displeasure at not receiving a new contract. After angling for a trade or new deal prior to the 2018 campaign, Thomas suffered a broken leg in Week 4, ending his season prematurely.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Thomas, Barr, Peterson

Some assorted contract details from the around the NFL:

Ravens To Sign Earl Thomas

Earl Thomas intends to sign a four-year, $55MM deal with the Ravens, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The deal will include a whopping $32MM fully guaranteed and pay Thomas $22MM inside of the first nine months.

With the deal, Thomas has secured an average annual salary of $13.75MM. That beats out his earlier goal of eclipsing $13MM per year, but puts him shy of the $14MM/year mark obtained by Landon Collins (Redskins) and Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs). It’s also a big step up from the $10MM/year he earned with the Seahawks on his last contract.

For the Ravens, the deal gives them ample firepower and star power to replace Eric Weddle. Baltimore, which already featured a pass defense which third in DVOA last season, will now field a secondary that includes Thomas, fellow safety Tony Jefferson, and cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, and Tavon Young.

Thomas, 29, spent nine years in Seattle as arguably the premier safety in the NFL, but his final years with the Seahawks were tinged with his displeasure at not receiving a new contract. After angling for a trade or a new deal prior to the 2018 campaign, Thomas suffered a broken leg in Week 4 which ended his season prematurely. That injury wiped out his most of his platform year, and may have prevented him from becoming the league’s highest-paid safety.

Thomas comes to Baltimore with a decorated history. He’s been named first-team All-Pro three times, second-team All-Pro twice, and earned six Pro Bowl nods. Pro Football Focus, meanwhile, has never assigned Thomas a below-average grade for his performance, and he’s regularly ranked among the NFL’s best safeties per PFF metrics.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Haven’t Talked Deal With Earl Thomas

The Browns have yet to engage in contract talks with Earl Thomas and will not be signing him, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. On Tuesday night, reports indicated that the Browns were confident in their chances of landing the Seahawks free agent, but it doesn’t sound like the safety will be joining a reloaded Cleveland roster. 

The Browns, at first glance, profiled as a logical destination for Thomas following the trade of Jabrill Peppers to the Giants in the Odell Beckham blockbuster. However, they have Damarious Randall to step into the spot filled by Peppers last season. Instead, the Browns are shopping for a strong safety, as Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets.

Thomas, a talented free safety, is said to be seeking $13MM/year. At this time, it’s uncertain as to whether he’ll be able to land such a deal. There were also talks of Thomas wanting to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL, but it may be challenging for him to top Tyrann Mathieu‘s $14MM average annual salary on his new deal with the Chiefs.

The Cowboys have been connected to Thomas for the better part of a year, and there were rumblings yesterday that the Texans could make a run at the soon-to-be 30-year-old.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Confident They’ll Land S Earl Thomas

After trading for Odell Beckham Jr. and signing Sheldon Richardson, it sounds like the Browns are still targeting big-name veterans. Jason La Canfora reports (via Twitter) that the organization is confident about their chances of landing free agent safety Earl Thomas.

As the reporter notes, the organization is apparently looking for one more big splash. After that, they’ll look to “stack depth” via the draft, and they’ll then presumably fill out their roster with journeyman and undrafted free agents. At the very least, it’s clear that the Browns are motivated to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

The market hasn’t necessarily been quiet for Thomas, but it’s uncertain if the safety will be able to secure his desired $13MM per year. There were also rumblings that the veteran wanted to be the highest-paid safety in the game, a market that was reset by Tyrann Mathieu‘s $14MM annual salary with the Chiefs. The Cowboys have been connected to Thomas for the better part of a year, and there were rumblings yesterday that the Texans could make a run at the 29-year-old.

The Browns would be a natural fit for the veteran, as the team is currently rostering only three safeties in Damarious RandallDerrick Kindred, and Jermaine Whitehead. Thomas played in just four games last season before a leg injury landed him on injured reserve, but he’ll be fully recovered by the time the 2019 season rolls around. He wouldn’t only provide the Browns with an upgrade at safety, but he’d also add some veteran-savvy to the entire defense.

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Texans Eyeing Earl Thomas?

After losing Tyrann Mathieu to the Chiefs, it sounds like the Texans have shifted their focus to another veteran safety. Draft analyst Tony Pauline reports (via Twitter) that Houston is preparing a “big push” for Earl Thomas.

Thomas has consistently been connected to another Texas franchise, the Cowboys, through must of the past year. The 29-year-old is from Texas and played college football with the Longhorns. Unless he’s absolutely focused on joining Dallas, Houston would seem to be a natural fit.

However, money could end up being an issue. Recent reports indicated that the veteran was seeking a deal that would pay him $13MM annually, and he was motivated to be the highest-paid player at his position. Mathieu ended up inking a deal with Kansas City that has a $14MM average annual value; if the Texans were (presumably) unwilling to shell out that kind of money on one of their own players, it’s hard to envision them paying money to a different (and older) safety.

Thomas played in just four games last season before a leg injury landed him on injured reserve, but he’ll be fully recovered by the time the 2019 season rolls around. The six-time Pro Bowler would be a massive addition to the Cowboys’ already promising defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Will Make ‘Strong Push’ For Earl Thomas

We heard a couple of weeks ago that Earl Thomas could get priced out of the Cowboys’ range, even though there’s been a long-rumored connection between the two sides. But Dallas apparently hasn’t been scared off by Thomas’ asking price and will make a “strong push” for the safety when free agency opens, according to David Moore of The Dallas Morning News.

The latest word is that Thomas is seeking a deal that will pay him around $13MM annually. Thomas is from Texas and played his college ball for the Texas Longhorns, and it hasn’t been much of a secret that he’s interested in returning home. Thomas wants to become the highest paid safety in the game, and Moore writes that the Cowboys “regard Thomas as a special talent.” He also notes that they aren’t concerned about his age, Thomas will be 30 in May, and that they “will make a competitive offer” for his services.

We heard more confirmation earlier today that numerous teams will be interested in signing Thomas, so the Cowboys won’t have it easy. The 49ers are expected to be aggressive in pursuing the All-Pro as are the Chiefs, who attempted to trade for him last fall. Thomas has indicated he won’t be giving the Cowboys much of a hometown discount, but it sounds like they’re willing to match, or at least come close to, what other teams are offering.

Thomas played in just four games last season before a leg injury landed him on injured reserve, but he’ll be fully recovered by the time the 2019 season rolls around. The six-time Pro Bowler would be a massive addition to the Cowboys’ already promising defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.