Earl Thomas is Texas born and bred. He grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan. He’s been linked with the Cowboys on more than one occasion in the past. Now that Thomas is on his way out of Baltimore, there’s rampant speculation as to where he might go next. Yesterday, the Cowboys made a surprisingly quiet move behind the scenes freeing up extra money to potentially sign a free agent. Coincidence?
Dallas Cowboys had chance to sign Earl Thomas and missed
After nine seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, which included six Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections, Earl Thomas said goodbye to the Pacific Northwest as he signed a four-year, $55 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens in 2019.
Most Dallas Cowboys fans viewed the move as a missed opportunity because Thomas had flirted with the club for more than a year dating back to 2017. In fact, he made his intentions abundantly clear when he visited the Cowboys’ locker room after Seattle’s 2017 victory in Dallas.
“I’ve always been a Cowboys fan growing up. But the biggest thing when I say, ‘Come get me’ is I don’t literally mean, like, ‘Come get me now.’ I’m still in the prime of my career. I still want to be here. But when Seattle kicks me to the curb, please, the Cowboys come get me. That’s the only place I’d rather be if I get kicked to the curb.”
The Cowboys missed. The Ravens didn’t. The ballhawking Thomas played the 2019 season in Baltimore, where he finished with 49 tackles, two interceptions, and one forced fumble. He earned his seventh Pro Bowl selection.
Thomas’ recent troubles and release
Like the rest of the world, 2020 hasn’t been kind to Earl Thomas. In addition to dealing with the pandemic, he’s had other personal issues to manage, including an incident back in May when his wife confronted him and held him at gunpoint after she learned Thomas was with another woman. She was arrested and received an emergency protective order, which required her to stay 200 yards away.
This week Thomas’ bad year got even worse when he got into an altercation with fellow Baltimore safety Chuck Clark. Tensions between the pair had been building from a dispute earlier in the day and erupted when Thomas punched Clark. Thomas was sent home from practice.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that incident with Clark was the final straw for Thomas and the organization decided it was time to move on from the star safety.
“There were issues with him in terms of tardiness. Issue of the fight on sidelines… It’s a situation where the team felt it’s in its best interest to move on from him right now. The only question remains is whether they’re able to trade him, which sounds unlikely, or more likely, releasing him, which would allow him to choose his own team.”
Dallas Cowboys make quiet move to free up money
While things appeared to be falling apart in Baltimore for Thomas, back in his home state, the Dallas Cowboys made a quiet move on Saturday. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Dallas restructured the contract of All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith. The move saves the Cowboys $6.7 million against the cap this season and the savings from that move can only be used for in-season management.
Interestingly, the Cowboys have made similar moves in the past and it was a precursor to something bigger, like the acquisition of an outside free agent or signing of an extension.
Smith restructured his contract in 2015. The Cowboys then slapped the franchise tag on Dez Bryant. Smith agreed to similar moves in 2016 and 2017, the latter helping the Cowboys save $7 million in cap space heading into free agency that season. This latest restructuring of Smith’s contract gives the Cowboys around $14.8 million in cap room according to Over The Cap.
The Cowboys’ move with Smith happening on a similar timeline to Thomas’ dismissal in Baltimore could all be coincidence. The Cowboys might be looking to spend that money elsewhere, like potentially signing Jadeveon Clowney. No one knows for sure at this point. But with the start of the season just a few weeks away, those questions will be answered sooner rather than later.