Two days after an on-field confrontation with teammate Chuck Clark, seven-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas saw his time with the Ravens end rather suddenly.
Baltimore announced that they have terminated Thomas’ contract, and will likely attempt to void his $10 million guaranteed salary this season.
Just like that, Thomas’ reign as a veteran leader in Baltimore has come to an end. And with less than a month before the season starts and a lot of rosters closed to finish, Thomas is running out of time to reclaim his NFL career.
Acquiring Thomas has assuredly been discussed in many team rooms, with one of the first teams to bring up his name being the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys have seemed to be a likely candidate to acquire Thomas for a few years, as on Christmas Eve in 2017, he told then-head coach Jason Garrett that he would love to play in Jerry World.
But Jason Garrett is no longer with the Cowboys organization, and new head coach Mike McCarthy seems to like the roster that the team already has in place.
“The conversations I’ve been involved with — we had a chance to get a thorough personnel meeting just two days ago — we’re very confident in where we are as far as the 80-man roster,” McCarthy said via Kevin Patra of NFL.com. “As far as any prospect that’s available, those are more conversations for Jerry (Jones), Stephen (Jones) and Will McClay, as far as looking at that situation. So I have nothing really to report.”
McCarthy has a reason to satisfied with his current roster, specifically when it comes to the safety spot. Dallas just locked up free safety HaHa Clinton-Dix earlier this off-season, and fourth-year strong safety Xavier Woods has been consistent with the Cowboys.
While the Cowboys don’t need to acquire Earl Thomas to be a solid defense, perhaps Thomas just needed a change of scenery.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that Jerry Jones has taken a chance on a player with potential character issues, with Aldon Smith, Randy Gregory and Everson Griffin looking to play integral parts in the Cowboys defensive line this season.
Even though Thomas will likely face a suspension for the altercation and is on the wrong side of 30, he was a Pro Bowler just last season and is still grades out to be a top NFL safety, per Pro Football Focus.
Former teammate and fellow multi-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman spoke out for his teammate on Twitter yesterday, vouching for Thomas and proclaiming that NFL teams should let his play do the talking.
It’s really sad how things have played out for a man who is like a brother to me. Just know that when @Earl_Thomas gets back on the grass he will be out to make a point! Still one of the best in this league and I look forward to him being able to prove it again
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) August 23, 2020
If Thomas is willing to accept a smaller role with the Cowboys, he could elevate the ceiling of their defense. He’s not just another body in the defensive backs room who can add depth: he could be the best third safety in the NFL who can allow Dallas to get more creative with coverage schemes.
It’s also key that the Cowboys have one of the oldest defenses in the NFL. There will be less impressionable young players and more veterans who are unwilling to put up with Thomas’ ego and fiery temper.
If there is one thing Jerry Jones has been known for over the last few years, it’s paying big money for big-name players, which is exactly what Thomas is.
This might be Thomas’ last chance in the NFL after burning bridges with the Ravens and Seattle Seahawks. But if he gets a chance on the team he’s been waiting almost three years to play for, he’s unlikely to squander that chance and could even return to Pro Bowl form.