Trouble might be brewing in The Land Of Pleasant Living.
The Baltimore Ravens sent safety Earl Thomas home from training camp following a fight with fellow safety Chuck Clark on Friday. This isn't the first altercation which has involved Thomas, and it seems as though he is on his way out of Baltimore.
The @Ravens situation with Earl Thomas could come to a head today. Sources said the team's Leadership Council made it clear to decision makers they would prefer Thomas not be around. Cap hit could be issue but "conduct detrimental" clause provides potential avenue for relief— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 22, 2020
If Thomas does become available, could he find his way to the NFC East?
Baltimore is planning to cut or trade Thomas, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys are considered the leading candidates to acquire him.
Ravens are moving on from Pro Bowl S Earl Thomas today, sources tell ESPN. They either will release him for conduct detrimental to the team - punching S Chuck Clark - or trade him. Dallas is the leading contender if he’s released, per sources. But his time in Baltimore is over. pic.twitter.com/eJeTuHD1mI— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 23, 2020
Dallas is square in play on Earl Thomas, with one source going as far as to say the Cowboys “would be leading contender.” https://t.co/5cYVKoSutq— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 23, 2020
All-Pro. Both teams are in "win-now" situations, with veteran quarterbacks and developed rosters that are in playoff contention.
The Cowboys reportedly had serious interest in former New York Jets safety Jamal Adams before he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks. Giants fans breathed a sigh of relief when Adams went to Seattle, but Dallas is likely going to be interested if Thomas hits the market. A year ago the Cowboys played one of the league's lowest rates of man coverage, however Thomas' presence would let them play more aggressive coverage shells. Likewise, Dallas needs to replace the loss of Byron Jones to free agency. While Thomas is a safety, his ability to take away deep routes and aid cornerbacks would certainly help. It's also worth noting that Dallas recently restructured Tyron Smith's contract, freeing up roughly $7 million in cap room.
The other teams in the NFC East could be in the running as well. The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Football Team could both use an upgrade at free safety.
The Eagles have already been aggressive in improving a chronically weak secondary. They traded third- and fifth-round picks to the Detroit Lions for cornerback Darius Slay. Pairing Thomas with Slay would go a long way toward solidifying a coverage unit that's been an adventure at best the last few years, particularly since the team parted ways with safety Malcolm Jenkins.
We should also consider the Washington Football Team to be darkhorses in the (potential) race to acquire Thomas. Sharp Football Analysis graded box safety Landon Collins as one of the best run defenders in the NFL last year, with a league-leading run defense 25 points saved. Washington’s secondary was poor last year and is a definite question following the trade of Quinton Dunbar. Pairing Thomas with Collins would allow each to play to his strengths and help take the load off of their cornerbacks.
All three defenses have talented, dangerous defensive fronts. Adding a player like Thomas would allow any of them more time to impact the passer, force more throwaways, and present more opportunities for turnovers.
So will Thomas wind up on the NFC East? This is all conjecture at the moment, but there are compelling cases all around and the Giants should be paying attention.