Earl Thomas is available, but the Dallas Cowboys won’t come calling if they have any sense.
Joining the Cowboys is a possibility for Thomas after the Baltimore Ravens released the Pro Bowl safety on Sunday. A brief statement on the Ravens’ official website confirmed Thomas’ departure:
We have terminated [safety] Earl Thomas’ contract for personal conduct that adversely affected the Baltimore Ravens.
The Cowboys signing Thomas has been suggested more than once in recent years. Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless revisited the topic today:
Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy seems wary of acquiring the troubled 31-year-old:
McCarthy is right to be cautious. Even without the baggage, Thomas isn’t the force he was.
Thomas signed a 4-year, $55 million deal with the Ravens last offseason. He was a three-time All-Pro and Super Bowl winner with the Seattle Seahawks, but his skills have since diminished.
His debut season in Baltimore produced a measly two interceptions. And Thomas was guilty of too many mental and physical lapses.
ESPN’s Jamison Henley put together a timeline of Thomas’ decline both on and off the field. His problems included struggling with a defensive scheme more sophisticated than the one he played in Seattle:
Instead of playing Cover 3 exclusively like he did with the Seahawks, Thomas was trying to adjust to a Ravens scheme that makes calls on the fly. ‘I haven’t really enjoyed it that much, to be totally honest,” he said. “But I know it’s going to pay off, because we’re going to make it very hard on quarterbacks.’
Having the freedom to stay deep and feast on errant throws made Thomas a star with the Seahawks. It speaks volumes about how much he’s regressed that he floundered when asked to do more.
Henley pointed to Thomas’ role in a defensive collapse against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3. Baltimore’s usually stout unit surrendered 503 yards, despite Thomas boasting before the game about how he would take away the deep ball.
He appeared to quit when chasing Nick Chubb the following week. The Cleveland Browns running back ripped off an 88-yard touchdown while Thomas cried injury.
He still has his supporters, including fellow former “Legion of Boom” member Richard Sherman, but Thomas is firmly on the wane:
Dallas is in win-now mode, and there are issues in the secondary. This should be the time for younger players like Xavier Woods and Donovan Wilson to prove themselves, not be spectators for Thomas’ farewell tour.
Thomas would be worth the hassle if he were still at his peak. Since he’s not, the Cowboys should avoid adding another character concern to the roster.
Dallas has already taken a punt on a defensive playmaker with baggage. Aldon Smith hasn’t played since 2015 because of an indefinite suspension for substance abuse violations overturned by the NFL in May.
The Cowboys gambled on Smith because he’s a sack machine when focused. It was no small gesture since pass-rusher Randy Gregory remains suspended for drug violations.
The decision was based on a pattern of behavior that included Thomas not showing up to or coming late to meetings, blowing off walk-through practices, not listening to coaches and having confrontations with teammates, sources said.
Dallas has already reached its quota for problem players. Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy should take a hard pass on a past-it Thomas.