As free agent news around the NFL slowly speed up while front offices and free agents meet each other in Indianapolis during the Scouting Combine, the latest on Safety Earl Thomas has led many to believe he won't be in the Dallas Cowboys' price range. Although Dallas is in a complicated salary cap situation with so many young stars awaiting their respective contract extensions, assuming the Cowboys won't be in the mix to sign Earl Thomas is flat out wrong.
The Cowboys have already met with Earl Thomas' agent although said meeting is said to have been casual, as teams are still not allowed to enter official negotiations with free agents. However, Clarence Hill's report on Thomas wanting to become the highest-paid safety in the league has many ruling out the Cowboys as a potential landing spot for Thomas.
Hearing Earl Thomas is looking for $15 mil in average salary. That might be too much for the Cowboys liking.
First of all, it's worth pointing out that a player naming a price doesn't guarantee he'll get paid what he wants by any team. But let's talk about what Thomas' unwillingness to give a “hometown discount” means for the Cowboys and their pursuit for the All-Pro safety.
You see, I don't believe the story has changed that much due to these reports. Is it really a surprise that Thomas is looking for a top contract? Isn't that what all the drama was about when he was holding out last season? I'd be surprised if the Cowboys' front office didn't expect that from Earl Thomas.
There are a lot of things to do in the offseason, including signing DeMarcus Lawrence to a well-deserved big time contract and getting Dak Prescott to a long term deal. But that doesn't mean the Cowboys won't be able to make enough cap space to go after the guy they have been targeting since last year.
There are a handful of players who could be released in order to free up a few millions. Sean Lee is a painful yet viable candidate to give the Cowboys considerable cap savings, as he would earn the team $7M. Releasing Jeff Heath would give the team another 2.5 million.
The Dallas Cowboys actually have options to work with and if they want to pursue Earl Thomas, they should be able to. Bringing Thomas in would take the team's defense one step further and would drastically improve the secondary. With him playing next to Xavier Woods, whose success was apparent in 2018, the Cowboys would have themselves another dynamic duo on defense.
The real challenge for the Cowboys will come if a bidding war breaks out between other NFL teams once March comes around. Thomas will surely attract a lot of attention and for good reason, he's one of the best at his position in the NFL, if not the best. Right now, though, I don't believe Thomas is out of the Cowboys' range. There's a reason for their big interest on Thomas and I'm convinced they knew as well as anybody that he was looking for a top contract. Don't expect them to back down in their pursuit just now.