Earl Thomas

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Looking Into Earl Thomas Incident

According to Texas police, Earl Thomas was held at gunpoint by his wife in April after she allegedly caught him cheating. Thomas himself was not charged for the incident, but the Ravens are still looking into it and determining whether the matter violated the safety’s contract (via The Baltimore Sun). 

Thomas’ deal, which runs through 2022, may give the Ravens an out, and a team official says they’re reading it over carefully. The Ravens inked the multiple-time Pro Bowler to a four-year, $55MM deal just one year ago, but they’re not necessarily happy with the results so far. That same source told The Baltimore Sun that Thomas has, at times, clashed with teammates and failed to learn the team’s defensive schemes. Thomas secured the seventh Pro Bowl selection of his career, but that was aided by his long-standing reputation for on-field excellence.

Thomas, who turned 31 on Thursday, spent nine years in Seattle as one of the very best safeties in the NFL, but his final years with the Seahawks were rocky due to disagreements over his 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 early. That injury wiped out his most of his platform year, and may have prevented him from becoming the league’s highest-paid safety.

For now, Thomas is set to count for $15MM against the Ravens’ 2020 salary cap. After that, he carries cap hits of $16MM and $17MM in each of the next two seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Clowney, Ravens, Ramsey, Jacobs

Jadeveon Clowney hasn’t played in two weeks, but the 26-year-old is anxious to get back on the field for the Seahawks. The defensive lineman told ESPN’s Brady Henderson that “there’s no way” he’ll miss his team’s season finale against the 49ers. Clowney also acknowledged that the two missed games will help him in the postseason.

“Oh, for sure,” he said. “I’m in a way better place … I’ve been a lot better than I was the week before.”

Clowney missed Week 15 against the Panthers with the flu, and he was out for Week 16 against the Cardinals to deal with a lingering core injury. Henderson notes that Clowney was listed as limited on the Seahawks’ first injury report of the week.

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

  • Quarterback Lamar Jackson and running back Mark Ingram won’t be the only Ravens player missing their team’s Week 17 game against the Steelers. Coach John Harbaugh told reporters that safety Earl Thomas, offensive lineman Marshal Yanda, and defensive end Brandon Williams also won’t play this weekend (via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic on Twitter). With Baltimore already having locked up a bye, the coaching staff is clearly playing it safe and providing the veterans with an extra week of rest.
  • Cornerback Jalen Ramsey will miss the Rams game against the Cardinals on Sunday. Coach Sean McVay told reporters that Ramsey is dealing with a strained lateral collateral ligament that was suffered during the team’s loss to the 49ers. The Rams sent a pair of first-rounders (along with a fourth-rounder) to the Jaguars for Ramsey, and the 25-year-old ended up chipping in 33 tackles, four passes defended, an interception, and one forced fumble in nine games (eight starts) for Los Angeles.
  • Raiders running back Josh Jacobs underwent a minor operation that shouldn’t keep him out of the lineup for Week 17. “Josh Jacobs woke up with discomfort in his leg on Wednesday and he was evaluated and treated for a superficial skin infection,” the team said (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter). While Jacobs will be in the lineup to help the Raiders secure an unlikely playoff spot, he’s still be a bit banged up. We heard earlier this month that the rookie was dealing with a shoulder ailment.

Earl Thomas On Free Agency, Call With Bill O’Brien

Earl Thomas ended up landing a massive payday from the Ravens, but he was apparently disappointed with the offers he was getting. We heard that Thomas nearly signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs before Baltimore came through, and that the Texans were interested at one point, but Thomas pulled back the curtain on the whole process in a recent interview with Dan Pompei of The Athletic.

Thomas was coming off a season-ending leg injury when he entered free agency this past March, and three other safeties got signed before he did. “I thought I’d come off the board first,” Thomas said. “I thought I’d be the highest-paid safety. … It made me kind of reevaluate. You give your all for the game, and they still devalue you. I got hurt going full speed for my team.”

Thomas even revealed that he personally called Texans head coach Bill O’Brien at the urging of quarterback Deshaun Watson. “He was at the rodeo at the time,” Thomas said. “Our conversation was not what I thought it was going to be. It was him not believing I still wanted to play football.

He also talked about his decision to sign with Baltimore, saying that he didn’t speak to a single member of the coaching staff or go to visit the facility. “You know what that means?” he said. “It was a big enough offer. The money was really good, bro. They really saw my value. And then I started to think about the greats that played before me like Ray (Lewis) and Ed (Reed). I definitely wanted to bring that type of leadership and playmaking ability to the team.”

Thomas said he had agreed a one-year deal worth around $12MM with Kansas City before Ravens GM Eric DeCosta placed a last-minute call to his agent. Thomas ended up getting $55MM over four-years with $32MM guaranteed, so it’d be hard to say it didn’t work out in the end. That being said, he didn’t achieve his goal of becoming the league’s highest-paid safety. Tyrann Mathieu and Landon Collins received slightly higher average salaries from the Chiefs and Redskins respectively.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.