Cowboys News: Stephen Jones Responds to Earl Thomas Rumors After Star's Release

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2020

AFC free safety Earl Thomas, of the Baltimore Ravens, walks the field during a practice for the NFL Pro Bowl football game Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones remained cagey when asked whether the team would pursue star safety Earl Thomas, whom the Baltimore Ravens released on Sunday.

Jones said Monday on 105.3 The Fan the Cowboys are "always looking to get better" but didn't specify whether Thomas is a target right now:

"Just as we didn't talk about Everson (Griffen) until it was done. We found out that works much better for us. As I said, we're in it 365 days a year and we're always looking to get better. Obviously, it's not very productive for us to talk about anything that might be in the works because it can always work against you."

However, Jones added that Dallas would benefit from upgrading at safety.

"It shouldn't be a surprise because it's got the least amount of resources committed to it is the safety position," he said. "We don't really have any high draft picks or any high paid players. Certainly, we got to continue to work in that area and that's what we'll do."

Earlier in the day, head coach Mike McCarthy had directed any queries to upper management:

Clarence Hill Jr @clarencehilljr

Mike McCarthy quote on Earl Thomas: We’re very confident in where we are as far as the 80-man roster. As far as any prospect that’s available, those are more conversations for Jerry, Stephen and Will McClay as far as looking at that situation. I have nothing really to report.

The idea of Thomas joining the Cowboys gained serious steam in December 2017, when ESPN's Brady Henderson reported the seven-time Pro Bowler had spoken with Dallas head coach Jason Garrett after a game. Thomas indicated his desire for the team to make a move for him were he to become available.

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

The Cowboys made a play to sign the 31-year-old when he became a free agent in 2019 but didn't want to match the four-year, $55 million contract he signed with the Baltimore Ravens. 

David Moore @DavidMooreDMN

The only free agent the Cowboys were willing to spend big on was Earl Thomas. Now that he’s agreed with Baltimore _ a deal too rich for their blood _ there is no free agent watch. They will pick off a guy or two here & there & focus on their own as they have the last 6 years.

The cost to add Thomas is presumably lower now, but the circumstances of his departure from Baltimore could dissuade Dallas from granting the wish of the former Texas Longhorns star. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Thomas punched teammate Chuck Clark during practice, which led the Ravens to decide they would jettison him via trade or outright release.

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported in September 2019 that Thomas "had a heated discussion in the training room" with Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams. According to Jamison Hensley of ESPN, Thomas also missed and was late to multiple meetings during his time with the team. 

In terms of what he'd provide on the field, signing Thomas would make sense for the Cowboys because he'd help just about any team in the league. He finished 2019 with 47 total tackles, four passes defended and two interceptions.

However, Dallas has to consider his off-field problems in addition to the impact of his arrival on the salary cap. A multiyear deal wouldn't be ideal since the front office has to consider the price of a possible long-term extension or the franchise tag ($37.7 million) for Dak Prescott.