Earl Thomas Rumors: Breaking Down Buzz on Cowboys and 49ers Interest

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2019

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Safety Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks direct the defense during the 3rd quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at CenturyLink Field on September 23, 2018 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Earl Thomas is going to get paid handsomely. 

That much seems certain after Ian Rapoport reported Landon Collins agreed to a six-year, $84 million contract ($45 million guaranteed) with Washington, and Tyrann Mathieu reportedly will ink a three-year, $42 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.

The question is, which team will splash the cash for Thomas?

The Dallas Cowboys remain one of the front-runners. There has been buzz about a potential marriage between the two sides for over a year, and it's no secret that Thomas grew up a Cowboys fan.

But there have also been questions about how much money the Cowboys may be willing to offer Thomas, especially with a potential long-term extension with defensive end Demarcus Lawrence to be negotiated (he was franchise-tagged by the Cowboys this offseason).

Make no mistake, though—the Cowboys will be in play for Thomas, as David Moore of the Dallas Morning News reported:

"The Cowboys will make a strong push for Earl Thomas.

"The mutual attraction between Thomas and the Cowboys is no secret. But an assumption has developed in recent weeks that it will be nothing more than a public flirtation, that Dallas doesn't have the financial wherewithal to land the Pro Bowl safety before the week is done.

"That could be how this process unfolds. But to dismiss the Cowboys' interest or chances of pulling this off is premature."

The question for the Cowboys will be whether they are willing to make him the highest paid safety in the game. And the question for Thomas will be whether he can generate enough of a market to guarantee at least one team will offer him such a lucrative contract.

Jane Slater @SlaterNFL

I said “rumored to be” but can now confirm, at least in the market of 14M or more a year, per source. He wants to beat S Eric Berry’s number which is roughly 13M a year https://t.co/uj7ntUHI7L

Another team that could join the bidding war is the San Francisco 49ers. Well, at least according to Thomas' former teammate, cornerback Richard Sherman, who said there is interest between the two sides at the NFL Scouting Combine, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com:

"There's serious interest. There's obviously a clear and easy fit. But financially it has to make sense. If you go into free agency and say, 'Hey, we offer Earl Thomas $7 million.' It doesn't matter how much I recruit or how much you say. If finances make sense, then I'd say we're a major player in it, if everything aligns the right way."

Even Sherman acknowledged that the Cowboys are the favorites if money is taken out of the equation, however.

"Now if Dallas is a player in it, I'm not going to lie, he's going to go [to] Dallas," Sherman said. "That's his home. If the money is equal, if all things are equal, he's going to Dallas."

Thomas would make both teams better. The six-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro selection appeared in just four games for the Seahawks last season before fracturing his leg in an early October game, but he earned a grade of 91.3 in those contests from Pro Football Focus.

Coming off that injury, combined with the fact that he'll be 30 in May, could cause some teams pause as they consider offering him a mega deal. But Thomas isn't going to come cheap, and if either the Cowboys or Niners want him, that's a fact they'll have to accept.