It’s been crickets so far in free agency for the Dallas Cowboys. Fans have gotten used to this type of hands-off approach as the team prefers to use their money on re-investing in their own homegrown talent. Despite that being the reality we live in, it doesn’t stop some of us from dreaming, and the acquisition of Seattle Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas has been in a lot of those dreams. The veteran safety is a great talent and any defense would be fortunate to have a player like Thomas roaming around in their secondary. While it’s a fun thing to ponder, the cost of making such a move is too much for this team to pay out.
Our own Dave Halprin recently brought to our attention of how the Seahawks are in talks with several teams about Thomas and their asking price is rather steep.
Seattle is seeking a first-rounder and a third-rounder and may get more, which seems unlikely unless the team already has an agreement with Thomas on a contract extension.
Even without the third-round add-on, this is a lot to give up for Thomas and the Cowboys should step away from the action and let the other potential suitors battle it out. Here are three reasons why they should just throw their offer in the muck and live to fight another day.
Currently, Thomas is on the last leg of a four-year, $40 million deal. For the Cowboys to make a trade for him, they would be doing so with the intention of signing him to a new contract. And this new deal is going to cost a good chunk of change. What if Thomas wants to be the highest paid safety in the league? That would run the Cowboys roughly $14 million per year. Even if he doesn’t ask for quite that much, his cost is still going to be on the north side of $10 and it’s going to be a big hit on the Cowboys cap.
To get four years of service from Thomas, it would cost the Cowboys somewhere around $50 million of cap resources. In contrast, a draft pick at 19 would cost about $11 million for the next four seasons.
Up until this point, fans haven’t had to worry about which player the Cowboys are keeping - Zack Martin or DeMarcus Lawrence. They’ll retain them both. But if they start spending big money on other players, then these tough decisions will emerge. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will be looking for new contracts in a couple years so the front office needs to be diligent with their cap spending.
The Cowboys aren’t very good at acquiring talent via free agency. You know that, I know that, and I can’t help thinking that even the Cowboys front office knows that. The proof is in the pudding, or the pile of Cedric Thornton/Nolan Carroll dead money staring at them.
While that’s unfortunate, the Cowboys have been really strong at drafting in recent years. To surrender a first-round pick, the team is forfeiting an opportunity for their crack staff draft team to score another strong collegiate player. Say what you want about certain picks you don’t like over the years, but this team has proven they are more than capable of collecting great players through the draft. So why would you take the bat out of their hands when they have demonstrated the ability to knock it out of the park.
Earl Thomas will be 29 years old when the 2018 football season starts. That’s not old, but it’s also not young and you’re always playing with fire when NFL players eclipse the age of 30. The Cowboys front office was at their worst when they were trying to keep the deck stacked when Tony Romo emerged as the team’s new starting quarterback. This resulted in many older players receiving inflated contracts, which ultimately led to cutting them loose and wasting a ridiculous amount of cap resources. In a four-year span from 2011 to 2014, the Cowboys had over $81 million in dead money. That’s a hole that would cripple most organizations.
Now, Thomas is a proven commodity. He’s a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro so there is not any doubt that he’s a great player. But he’s also a talented player who has been on a super-talented secondary, and defense, over his career. Adding Thomas would definitely help the Cowboys defense, but he would have his work cut out for him to live up to the expectations created from this type of investment.
The Cowboys should always keep their eye out for a player who can help their team and if that means giving up some draft capital, so be it - quality players are going to come with a cost. But a first-round pick? That’s just too much and Dallas needs to stay the course rather than take such an extraordinary measure to go out and get their guy.