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Earl Thomas: Age is Just a Number Part II

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de Earl Thomas, la NFL Sigue Equivocándose
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Yesterday, I wrote a piece attempting to assuage the fears that many in Cowboys Nation have about handing a contract extension out to Earl Thomas, who is 29 years old as we enter the 2018 NFL season.

In the comment section, a reader posed a very good question that is the basis for the rest of this article:

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond

It's a great question that certainly required some research, but Cowboys fans all across the world should be encouraged by my findings.

Just to refresh, here are the players we looked at as favorable comparisons to Earl Thomas at this point in his career. I searched Pro Football Reference for safeties who had at least three All-Pro First Team selections and at least six Pro Bowl appearances.

Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number

The average age of the players listed at the time when they reached their third All-Pro was 31 years old. I'm removing Deion Sanders and Roger Wehrli from the equation as most of their work was done at cornerback.

Let's look at a chart that outlines what these guys careers looked like at age 29 and beyond to get a better picture. Remember, Earl Thomas already has three All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowls. Many of these guys didn't reach those kind of accolades until their 30s.

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond 1

Click image to view at full size.

The first thing I noticed as I looked into this question is that only two players had three or more All-Pro First Team selections prior to age 29, like Earl Thomas has. Those players were Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott. Every other player on this list didn't hit their third All-Pro selection until age 29 or later.

Only one player reached his sixth Pro Bowl prior to his age 29 season, that player is Ronnie Lott, who many NFL Analysts consider to be the greatest safety of all-time. Most of the players didn't achieve their third All-Pro selection until their age 29 season or later. Earl Thomas reached his third All-Pro selection at age 25.

Here's a hot take for you: Earl Thomas, when it's all said and done could be considered the greatest safety of all-time.  I'll just leave that there to marinate and if a trade does happen, we'll come back to that.

Back to the chart.

Another thing I want to point out is that none of these players were 100% healthy. Such is the life in the NFL, especially as you get older, but they were available for at least 14 games a majority of their seasons aged 29 or later. Health is an unpredictable animal in the NFL, but the safety position allows for much more longevity than many other positions. And as the chart depicts, it's a position that ages well.

So, as you can see in the chart, players who were highly productive prior to their age 29 season were also highly productive for several seasons after. These players went onto average almost seven more years in the league from their age 29 seasons.

Most players continued to average a healthy amount of interceptions. The player that saw the biggest decline from the early part of his career to the post-29 part of his career was Brian Dawkins. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos safety went from three interceptions per season prior to 29 to 1.9 interceptions per season 29 and after.

When it comes to the safety position, the elite seem to be able to get the most of their bodies and their abilities and can prolong their prime. The position relies as much on intelligence and awareness as it does quickness and athleticism. Earl Thomas has the mental capacity to play the game for many more years and there's been zero evidence to suggest that he is experiencing any physical decline.

At the rate of his career that he's on, Earl Thomas is destined for the Hall of Fame. He's one of the faces of the Legion of Boom defense that propelled the Seattle Seahawks into the elite category of teams in the early part of this decade.

If and when an Earl Thomas trade does occur, don't sweat an extension for Thomas.

Thomas' credentials put him in an elite group of players who played the game for a very long time and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.

The Dallas Cowboys aren't that far off from having a Super Bowl contending defense built in the image of the Seattle Seahawks. Going to get the All-Pro, future Hall of Fame safety is the final piece to the to the Dallas Cowboys completing construction on "Doomsday III." 

Everything else is there for the Dallas Cowboys, now all they have to do is: Go. Get. Earl!



Dallas Cowboys optimist brining factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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2 Comments
  • Stet Ross7777

    # WE NEED DEFENSIVE HELP TO BEAT TO THE PHIlADELPHIA EAGLES INORDER TO JUST WIN OUR DIViSION AND , TO BEAT OTHERS TEAMS INTHIS A NO BRAINER FOR A DEFENSIVE UNIT CANNOT GET OFF THE FIELD MORE TIMES THAN NOT

  • ctabor21

    John, thanks for the shout out and for doing the research…I was hoping someone would do it for this lazy bum 😉
    You’ve convinced me with the historical data. I’m ready to give up a 3rd and a 5th for him (but not more than that). Now the question: is he worth top 3 safety money?

Dallas Cowboys

Maliek Collins Activated From PUP, Cowboys’ Front 7 Looking Great

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Cowboys Defense Have Young Foundation Players To Build Around
Ken Blaze / USA TODAY Sports

There are tons of reasons to be excited about the Dallas Cowboys' defense with the regular season less than a month away. The most recent one is Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is coming off the PUP list after passing his physical and is now activated and practicing.

After suffering another foot injury in May, Collins had to undergo surgery and his return to the roster before the season began was questionable. But things are looking good now as the Cowboys expect him to be ready for week 1 versus the Carolina Panthers.

David Helman on Twitter

On the same day he was taken off PUP, Maliek Collins is participating in pre-practice walkthrough. Not sure what that means for his practice regimen, but that's a positive sign #cowboyswire

Collins missed quite some time, so one has to wonder how fast he will be reincorporated to the defense and whether or not he'll get back his starting role or not. The defensive tackle room seems to be loaded with various talent that should be capable of at least giving #96 a tough competition before he can reclaim his spot as if he hadn't been missing any practices.

David Irving may not be a factor on the roster until he comes back from suspension prior to week 5's match-up against the Houston Texans, but there are other young players Collins should be expecting to fight for the starting role.

Antwaun Woods, Jihad Ward, Brian Price and Datone Jones will provide this team with an interesting debate going forward. But even if not one DT emerges as a clear-cut starter above the rest, the Cowboys have serious depth at the position.

To be honest, the entire front seven is very exciting. Not only do the Cowboys count with good DTs, but just take a look at the defensive end room. Led by 2017 second-team All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence, there is also a deep group of DEs.

Randy Gregory is coming back after a long comeback journey and should earn a lot more snaps as the season progressing. Taco Charlton has made a ton of progress and fourth-round rookie Dorance Armstrong isn't far behind. Not to mention captain Tyrone Crawford, who despite being criticized by many due to his huge contract, is a more than decent DE.

Now, let's talk about the linebackers for a moment here. Before the 2018 NFL Draft, this was seen as one of the weakest units on the team. Fast forward to mid-August and this should be one of the most exciting groups on the team.

Sean Lee will be playing alongside a Jaylon Smith that we've never seen before. Smith is doing things that he wouldn't been able to do a season ago. What he's shown in training camp and through one preseason game should have any Cowboys' fan eager to watch him play in a regular season game. The Jaylon Smith the front office envisioned when taking a risk on him in the 2016 NFL Draft has arrived.

Also in the mix is first round pick Leighton Vander Esch. We haven't been able to watch a lot of playing time from him but we'll sure do pretty soon. He's a week 1 contributor who will play behind what could be one of the best LB duos in the entire NFL.

And just like in the defensive line, the depth seems to be great. Joe Thomas and Damien Wilson have shown what they're capable of and they could be more than special team bodies when needed.

The Dallas Cowboys shouldn't be very concerned about their front seven going forward. It's loaded with talent and even if they rotate their players a lot, this seems like a group that will give any offense a big headache.

Tell me what you think about "Maliek Collins Activated From PUP, Cowboys’ Front 7 Looking Great" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys Sign WR Darren Carrington Following Workout in Oxnard

Sean Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Sign WR Darren Carrington Following Workout in Oxnard

The Dallas Cowboys have signed another one of the six players worked out on Monday in Oxnard, adding to their already deep group of wide receivers. Most recently with Utah, Pac-12 Wide Receiver Darren Carrington has signed with the team.

Carrington began his college career at Oregon, where he was on track to make it to the NFL before being dismissed from the Ducks for a DUI. This led Carrington to Utah, where he played as a graduate transfer and put up a team high 908 yards and six touchdowns on 70 receptions last season.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys signing former Utah WR Darren Carrington, per source.

At 6021 (6' 2 1/8") and 199 pounds, Carrington is yet another athletic target with long speed for the Cowboys to work into their new-look offense. He joins Ricky Jeune as the second receiver added to the team in training camp, bringing the number of WRs on the roster to 11.

Marchie Murdock, who had two catches for the Cowboys in their preseason opener, was waived (with an injury designation) prior to these roster moves.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Sign WR Darren Carrington Following Workout in Oxnard" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys Workout 6 Players, Sign OL Jacob Alsadek

Sean Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Workout 6 Players, Sign OL Jacob Alsadek
(Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys did not receive good news on first-year offensive lineman Marcus Martin, as his injury suffered in San Francisco will likely require season-ending surgery. Martin was signed this offseason as a backup guard/center, and without him the Cowboys have a need for further depth up front. Working out six players at positions of need today, the team has signed former Arizona lineman Jacob Alsadek.

DEC Management on Twitter

Congratulations to #TeamDEC client @jacobalsadek on signing with @dallascowboys

This is Alsadek's second stop in the NFL, as he spent most of May with the Green Bay Packers before being released. Alsadek was the cut when the Packers signed former Cowboys Tackle Byron Bell.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Players Cowboys worked out today: Darren Carrington, WR Jacob Alsadek, OL Daronte Bouldin, OL Dominick Sanders, S Ryan Murphy, S Deron Washington, S

The 6'7", 312 pound guard went undrafted in this year's AT&T Stadium hosted draft. He was set to play in the Alliance of American Football League, with an inaugural season scheduled for February.

Now, he's a member of America's Team with a real chance to compete for a backup spot on the best offensive line in the league.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Workout 6 Players, Sign OL Jacob Alsadek" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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