Just a few minutes after the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, All-Pro safety Earl Thomas was in the Cowboys’ tunnel talking to Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. Even while Seattle had kept their playoff hopes alive, Thomas was already looking ahead to the offseason. The six-time Pro Bowler clearly asked Garrett “come get me” when it came to his expected free agency.
The footage of Thomas’ pitch to Garrett was captured on video. The audio is a little muffled, but you can clearly hear the most important part.
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Thomas is under contract for 2018 but has major potential to be released by the Seahawks. In the final year of his deal, Earl is due to count $10.4 million against Seattle’s cap and would only cost $1.9 million in dead money if cut. With Thomas turning 29 in May, he checks most of the boxes for the typical cap casualty.
One box that Earl Thomas does not check, though, is declining performance. He is still one of the top safeties in the game and returns to the Pro Bowl as a starter next month.
If he is a free agent this Spring, Thomas will be attractive to many teams. As a native of Orange, TX and a former Longhorn, it’s no surprise that Earl would like to come home and play for the Dallas Cowboys.
The real question is if the Cowboys would have room for Earl Thomas. The Cowboys are poised to go into next year with plenty of young talent at safety; Byron Jones, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier are all here and veteran Jeff Heath has two years left on his contract.
That said, adding an elite player like Thomas shouldn’t be off the table. As this season showed, the Cowboys clearly need more on both sides of the ball if they want to get back to the Super Bowl. Thomas would not only upgrade the secondary but add veteran leadership to help the development of their young players.
If Earl Thomas was signed, Dallas could consider moving Byron Jones back to corner. That would allow them to cut Orlando Scandrick and still be deep at CB with Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown.
Of course, this is all contingent on Thomas actually being available. He seems to think he will be based on those words with Jason Garrett, but it’s still up to the Seahawks to make the first move.
It’s also important to remember that signing a 29-year-old safety, even one of Thomas’ caliber, goes against the Cowboys’ current philosophy regarding free agency and the salary cap. If they stay true to form, it’s unlikely that they would give Earl the kind of contract he’ll be looking for given his age.
With our eyes already turning to the offseason after Dallas’ season-ending loss to the Seahawks, this is just the first of many free agency nuggets we’ll be considering over the next few months. We’ll have to wait a while to see if Earl Thomas gets his wish.