NFL Rumors: Earl Thomas-to-Cowboys Buzz, Patriots QB Battle Latest, More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2020

Baltimore Ravens free safety Earl Thomas looks on after a play against the Tennessee Titans during the firs half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Baltimore. The Titans won 28-12. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

While there are typically some notable NFL free agents still available in late August, there are some unusually big names on the market this year. Jadeveon Clowney, Trumaine Johnson and Logan Ryan top the list, or at least they did until Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas joined the group.

Thomas was released by the Baltimore Ravens after he allegedly got into a fight with fellow safety Chuck Clark. This was the last straw for Baltimore.

According to NBC Sports' Peter King, however, it was far from the first one:

"He was not well-liked by his teammates. He had a pattern of being late, and in a recent practice, he made multiple assignment errors, causing defensive teammates to confront him about his preparedness. He missed at least one walk-through with no valid excuse. When the incident at Friday's practice happened, very few if any teammates came to his defense. Teammates backed Clark, the significantly lesser name."

Teams have a reason to be wary with Thomas, but talented players are going to find work in today's NFL. Just see the New England Patriots' 2019 test run with Antonio Brown for proof of that. Thomas was a Pro Bowler just last season, and some safety-needy team is likely to roll the dice on him.

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, however, it won't be the Dallas Cowboys:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

One note on FA Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas: While the #Cowboys made some inquiries, they are not expected to be among the teams vying for Thomas’ services, sources say. So the Dallas/Thomas love affair ends here. 😢

The Cowboys did look into the possibility of adding Thomas, according to Rapoport. They might even have been high on the idea at one time. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported shortly after Thomas was released that Dallas was considered the leading contender to sign him.

Perhaps Dallas decided that Thomas' talents don't match up with the potential headache, or perhaps their interest never was a strong as initially believed. Either way, it appears that Thomas will have to look elsewhere for employment.

The Cleveland Browns, who just lost rookie safety Grant Delpit to a torn Achilles, could be a possibility—though coach Kevin Stefanski deferred to his general manager when asked about Thomas.

"I'll leave that in Andrew Berry's court," Stefanski said, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

With just two weeks to go before Week 1, Thomas might not find a home until after the regular season is underway.


Patriots Frustrated with Stidham

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

While we have to take a wait-and-see approach with Thomas in free agency, the Patriots are doing the same with their quarterback competition. New England will likely start either Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham in Week 1—though Brian Hoyer is also in the quarterback room—and it was hoping that the best player would emerge.

The Patriots' starter will still present himself, but he may not come out of a truly top-notch competition. Stidham has been dealing with a leg injury and hasn't been as consistent as the Patriots would like.

According to Greg A. Bedard of Boston Sports Journal, New England is growing frustrated with the 2019 fourth-round pick.

"Stidham's situation will do nothing to ally the growing concerns about him," Bedard wrote. "Internally, there's been a frustration that Stidham hasn't done more to grab the starting position to this point. He certainly started off strong, but has struggled since the first two days."

It makes sense that the Patriots would hope to see Stidham seize the starting opportunity. Newton has dealt with shoulder and foot injuries over the past two seasons, and at just 24 years old, Stidham could be a longer-term option under center.

Unless Stidham sees a surge in the next couple of weeks, though, it appears likely that Newton will be New England's Week 1 starter.


49ers Eyeing Receivers

While the San Francisco 49ers don't have a quarterback competition to deal with, they do have a potential shortage of receivers to worry about. Deebo Samuel is still recovering from foot surgery, and fellow wideout and rookie Brandon Aiyuk is dealing with a hamstring issue.

"Aiyuk has been in great shape, he's working his tail off out there, and sometimes that stuff just happens while going through a training camp," Shanahan explained, per ESPN's Nick Wagoner.

While Samuel and Aiyuk may be available for Week 1, there's a good chance that neither is at 100 percent. Therefore, the 49ers are weighing other options at the position.

According to Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, San Francisco has worked out receivers, including former Chicago Bears draft bust Kevin White:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

The #49ers are having WR workouts today, with familiar names on tap, per me and @TomPelissero. Among them: — Ex-#Raiders & #Steelers WR Johnny Holton. — #Former #Bears 1st rounder Kevin White. — Former #Bengals WR River Cracraft. — Former #Falcons WR Justin Hardy.

White, the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft, is the most notable name on this list, though injuries have limited him to just 14 NFL games. It's likely that whoever the 49ers bring in will only be a stopgap until Aiyuk and Samuel are both healthy.