Earl Thomas is set to hit the free agent market real soon and one of the teams expected to make a run at his services is none other than the Dallas Cowboys. This relationship has been long documented ever since the All-Pro safety caught up with Jason Garrett in the tunnel at AT&T Stadium after their 2017 contest. A reunion with his hometown of Dallas certainly felt like a strong possibility, but is Thomas really likely to join the Cowboys?
Well, there are a lot of factors in play, many of which will revolve around the almighty dollar, but make no mistake about it - Thomas wants to play in Dallas. The question begs - will the stars align to make it happen? Recently, there have been reports that Earl Thomas wants to be the highest paid safety in the NFL.
Earl Thomas wants to become the highest-paid safety in the NFL, reportedly offering no "hometown discount" to the Cowboys, so he likely finds more money elsewhere https://t.co/sqvIXQMXJa— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 1, 2019
For that to happen, a team would need to pay Thomas over $13 million a year, which is the average annual salary of the league’s current top paid safety, Eric Berry. Could such an asking price mean the Cowboys are already out of the running before contract negotiations have even started?
The Cowboys don’t typically throw a lot of money at free agents, especially those on the north side of 30 years old. Thomas will turn 30 in May. Many are hoping Thomas’ love for the Cowboys might come with a hometown discount that could drop his price enough for the front office to consider it. Based on this new information, it doesn’t appear like that is going to happen, but keep in mind - agents representing players always are shooting for max value so this initial projection may not be his actual cost when the ink dries on his new deal. This could very well be a negotiation ploy to start the bidding high, but may not represent the reality of the situation. Age and injury are going to be a concern for any team bidding on Thomas’ services.
This isn’t something that should throw the Cowboys out of the hunt for Thomas. If the Cowboys were seriously interested in Thomas before, they still will be. The front office was willing to trade away draft capital last year to acquire his services and they had to be well aware of the future costs of a player in the last year of his contract. Thomas has been vocal about securing more money; he would have stayed in Seattle if they were willing to offer him an extension. Financial security certainly is important to him, but there are many ways to make that happen. Guaranteed money, incentives; all play a part in the appeal of a new deal.
The Cowboys have shown prudence when it comes to spending a lot of money on free agents, but they’ve also been stingy with giving away draft capital if that is what it took to acquire a good player. Yet the Cowboys were willing to deviate from this approach to bring in a top receiver. They were willing to pay Sammy Watkins a big sum of money last season and then later pulled off a trade to bring Amari Cooper to Dallas at the expense of a 2019 first-round draft pick. Why did they suddenly change their approach? Maybe it was because they didn’t feel they could fill a roster need in their conventional matter of building through the draft. Instead, they made a move. Good safeties are hard to come by and this may be the route the team feels they need to take to get a good one.
Thomas wants a lot of money - who can blame him. And the Cowboys want to make smart financial investments. It’s possible both can still happen despite the reports that Thomas is going to be asking for the kitchen sink. It’s also possible that the Cowboys aren’t going to be anywhere close to matching his asking price and this new information is really moot. I guess we’ll all have to stay tuned to see how the Earl Thomas saga plays out, but for now - I wouldn’t rule anything out.