Earl Thomas Rumors: Latest Buzz on Cowboys Ahead of 2019 NFL Free Agency

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2019

Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) celebrates after he tackled Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Safety Earl Thomas figures to be one of the biggest prizes on this year's NFL free-agency market, and the Dallas Cowboys have been connected to him a number of times.

While the NFC East team is reportedly not looking to commit a major price tag to the career-long Seattle Seahawk, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said it is "by no means out" on landing him:

Dylan DeSimone @DylanADeSimone

Well, @RapSheet on NFL Network saying that the Cowboys are "by no means out" on Earl Thomas. So, the 49ers might have to win a bidding war.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

The free agent market for safeties is gonna be strong... https://t.co/sTk10BFrwi

This comes after Calvin Watkins of The Athletic reported the Cowboys "have no interest" in the former Texas Longhorns playmaker because "the financial price is too steep." That echoes a report from Dan Graziano of ESPN that called Thomas the team's top choice with the caveat "I don't get the sense the Cowboys are planning on a huge spend at the safety position."

Watkins reported on March 1 that Thomas was seeking $15 million in average annual salary.

On Feb. 27, Matt Barrows of The Athletic noted former teammate Richard Sherman said Thomas would enjoy returning to Texas to play for the Cowboys. Hill pointed to the fact former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard is on Dallas' staff and that the team met with his agents during the NFL Scouting Combine.

Thomas himself said he was a fan of the team during an interview with NFL Network's Jane Slater at the 2018 Pro Bowl:

Jane Slater @SlaterNFL

Why #Seahawks S Earl Thomas told me he won’t return to Seattle without a contract extension and what he was thinking when he walked into the Cowboys locker room #earlthomas #ProBowl https://t.co/lbcs1pWsnf

He also infamously chased down Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett after the Seahawks defeated Dallas in 2017 and said, "If ya'll have the chance, come get me," per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News:

Jon Machota @jonmachota

Earl Thomas went into Cowboys locker room to talk with Dez. Earl to Garrett: “If y’all have the chance, come get me.” https://t.co/RiGkHB1JsX

While Thomas may be on his way to the Hall of Fame and is one of the best safeties of his generation, there is reason for caution from the team's perspective. He will be 30 years old during the 2019 season and is coming off a significant injury when he fractured his leg in Week 4 of the 2018 campaign against the Arizona Cardinals.

Still, he is a three-time First Team All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler who has 28 career interceptions as a ball-hawking playmaker who also supports the run game with his hard hits and tendency to plug holes.

He is also a proven playoff performer who helped lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl XLVIII victory and Super Bowl XLIX appearance.

Dallas is in the middle of a win-now window as the NFC East champions in two of the last three years and three of the last five years. It could use a veteran leader like Thomas at the back end of its defense as it chases its first Lombardi Trophy since the 1995 season.

That is especially the case since Pro Football Focus ranked Jeff Heath as the 81st-best safety in the league during the 2018 campaign.

Thomas would likely represent a significant upgrade.