The Cleveland Browns may have seen the last of Earl Thomas as a Raven
Multiple reports from Birdland claim that the Baltimore Ravens are sufficiently angry with Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas — which led to his release and now he won’t face the Cleveland Browns on September 13.
Wide receivers like Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry are supposed to say that it does not make any difference who the Ravens deploy on September 13, and that they respect everyone who wears the Baltimore purple and gold. Truth to tell, however, Thomas is a special player, a charter member of the Seattle Seahawks “Legion of Boom,” who at age 31 is still coming off a Pro Bowl season.
He’s a difference-maker, and his departure will impact the game between Baltimore and Cleveland.
Some sources claim that Thomas threw a punch in Friday’s fracas. How big of a deal is that in a football training camp? Screaming matches and even punches are not uncommon in training camp. Football is a high-emotion sport and tensions often run high. It seems like something more impressive would have to have happened to get the Ravens coaches and front office so excited.
However, the Ravens were alarmed by an incident in May, as reported by TMZ Sports, in which Thomas was allegedly held at gunpoint by his wife Nina after being discovered with another woman in compromising circumstances. A loaded gun was involved, although Nina Thomas may not have realized that it was loaded, a classic formula for tragedy).
Friday’s incident may not have risen to the level of dismissal from the team by itself, but it may be that the Ravens are expecting very high standards for his behavior after May’s incident.
How long can Earl Thomas continue at an elite level? For what it is worth, Pro Football Focus graded him as the 12th highest safety in 2019, which is the lowest they have graded him since 2012. In 2018, a broken left leg ended his season early. He also flipped off Pete Carroll and the Seattle sideline as he was carted off, and later thought about retiring. He made a strong comeback in 2019, but at age 31 he may not be quite at the superstar level he was a few years ago. There is some mileage on the odometer at this point in his career.
Rumors about that that several teams are interested in trading for him. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Dallas Cowboys have been mentioned.
It would take a Herculean effort for the Cowboys to fit Thomas under the salary cap. They already have accountants working overtime to figure out how to get the existing roster under the cap on September 13.
That is not to say it is impossible, but there may be some other Cowboys who would have to be cut or traded in order to make it work out. They could also restructure Thomas’ contract to convert salary dollars to bonus dollars, which are charged to future years, rather than to 2020.