Earl Thomas | When Distraction Outweighs the Reward
Sometimes even the greatest players are deemed, not worth the trouble. And when it happens more than once, it’s a trend that only the desperate are willing to overlook. That is exactly where we are with recently released Baltimore Ravens safety, Earl Thomas. Yes, the same Earl Thomas, who in my opinion, is the best safety in Seahawks history, the most talented and athletic member of the “legion of Boom.” Yes, I know Kenny Easley recently went in the Pro Football Hall of Fame but this E.T. was just that “E.T.”
Pro Football Focus rated him as their highest graded safety since 2015. But even the best wear out their welcome. Some because of their play on the field but others because of actions off the field (see Antonio Brown). If a team is willing to cut or trade a player who just signed a 4 year-55 million-dollar contract-with 32 M of that guaranteed a year ago, it’s not a single event, trust me. If it’s gotten this far, his sideline spat with teammate Chuck Clark is more like the last straw. Teams will do anything they can to save a contract and player of this level. Well, unless saving him tears their team apart. And this is the second team to come to the same conclusion. Addition by subtraction.
The cap ramifications are major. Thomas has $10 million of his 2020 salary guaranteed-that’s not going anywhere, so he counts $15 million on their cap regardless of what happens. Doesn’t matter if he’s on the team or not, unless the Ravens can suspend him by claiming his conduct is detrimental to the team (and withstand a grievance from Earl to prove otherwise) or they can show where his failure to report or practice (if he did this by choice) violates the guarantees. Some teams do write in protections of this kind when negotiating contracts. We are past the June 1 deadline, so “dead money” will fall into 2021 cap year. The balance of his signing bonus or guarantees will count in 2021- a year we know that will have a substantially reduced salary cap, to start with, because of the loss of revenue league-wide, caused by Covid-19. That puts Baltimore behind the proverbial 8 ball before 2021 even gets here. Any way you look at it, it’s a total mess.
So, after all that, it probably wasn’t Thomas confrontation in 19’ with teammate, nose tackle,
Brandon Williams over not dressing for a game or the gun incident with his wife this past
offseason nor this scrap with Clark over a busted coverage the other day. But one could
probably say, the giving the middle finger to his former coach as he was being carted off the
field, may have been an indicator of something to come. The combination of all the above
has proved to be a distraction that outweighs his ability at this point in his career.
Enter the Dallas Cowboys who are always looking for a shiny new toy. Trading
for that contract would have been crazy, now that he has been released, look for Dallas to be the immediate favorites to land the Hall of Fame talent.
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