The last time Earl Thomas was on the market, he was on the short list of players the Houston Texans should have pursued. He ended up signing with the Baltimore Ravens instead. To say Thomas and Baltimore hasn’t been a match made in Heaven is a bit of an understatement. Now, the honeymoon is officially over.
Ravens are releasing Earl Thomas.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 23, 2020
Could Thomas end up finding work with the NFL team closest to his native Orange, Texas?
A few other teams to watch for #Ravens S Earl Thomas upon him being released: The #49ers and #Texans. They should be among those inquiring, along with the #Cowboys. Thomas, of course, will have a market.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 23, 2020
However, Mike Fisher of Sports Illustrated seems to think Bill O’Brien knew something about Thomas last season that kept the Texans from seriously pursuing Thomas. Fisher writes:
A year ago, it was the assessment of none other than Earl Thomas himself that the Houston Texans’ evaluation of him was that “he didn’t want to play football.’’
Thomas made the Pro Bowl following his 2019 campaign with the Baltimore Ravens, so if that was truly coach/GM Bill O’Brien’s post-phone-call impression of the then-free-agent Thomas, it wasn’t exactly right.
But maybe O’Brien knew something else about Thomas ... something beyond on-field will ... something the Ravens are now painfully dealing with.
For those who know him, it is a sad observation to acknowledge, but Thomas has very rapidly devolved from “the solution’’ into “the problem.’’ He is suddenly but maybe not permanently the latter for the Ravens, who thought a year ago they were adding a team leader and future Hall-of-Famer ... and are now scratching their heads over all the things that have turned sour.
Should other teams be scratching around here as well? Or was O’Brien and his Texans view ahead of the curve?
Thomas’ days in Baltimore were definitely not the sort of thing Houston wants with their players. In fact, it is sadly reminiscent of the last former Ravens safety to have his name linked to Houston—Ed Reed. Bleacher Report has a solid breakdown of Thomas’ time in Baltimore, full of stuff like this:
Earl Thomas posted this video to his Instagram of the coverage breakdown that led to the altercation with fellow S Chuck Clark. He works to clear the air on the matter in this post: https://t.co/RK5GnkpqVl pic.twitter.com/Dc4JY5DRwa— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 22, 2020
John Harbaugh, Ravens head coach, on the aforementioned fight:
It just lasted longer than it needed to for me. You’re going to have these things in training camp. I think you’re going to have tempers flare, sure. It happens every training camp, especially right about now, probably. But I don’t like them when they extend like that and eat into our reps, and we’re going to have to find out why and make sure that doesn’t happen.
Apparently what Harbaugh found out was Thomas isn’t Baltimore Raven material.
While Ian Rappaport and others are connecting Thomas to the Texans, there’s probably an equal chance Houston signs Jadeveon Clowney at this point. Furthermore, as I’ve said for months, the Texans would be better off bringing in Eric Reid, brother of current Houston star safety Justin Reid—especially in a COVID-19 shortened offseason. The Reid brothers finish each other’s sentences and communicate on field like no other safeties in the league.
Bill O’Brien is still calling the shots, so anyone’s guess is as good as mine when it comes to what happens between now and kickoff on September 10th.