Ravens' Jimmy Smith on Earl Thomas Release: 'Chemistry Is Everything'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2020

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith works out during an NFL football camp practice, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith alluded to the behind-the-scenes friction with Earl Thomas when explaining why the team moved on from the star safety.

Smith told reporters that "chemistry is everything" and players on the team are expected to maintain "a certain culture."  

The Ravens announced last month they released Thomas, citing "personal conduct that adversely affected the Baltimore Ravens."

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the three-time All-Pro punched teammate Chuck Clark during a practice, which was the final straw for the team. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports added that Baltimore's leadership council "made it clear to decision makers they would prefer Thomas not be around."

ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote the problems with Thomas went beyond his altercation with Clark. He had an argument with Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams last season and "also missed or was late to several meetings."

Thomas had 47 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions in 2019 en route to his seventh trip to the Pro Bowl. His value on the field isn't in doubt, but the timing of his release and circumstances behind his departure are probably hindering his chances of joining a new team ahead of the 2020 season.

Most coaches have already finalized their secondaries, and they might be wary of relying on Thomas given how quickly his Ravens tenure unraveled.

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The Dallas Cowboys released safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on Thursday, naturally leading to speculation about a move for Thomas. ESPN's Todd Archer and NFL Network's Jane Slater both threw cold water on that rumor for the time being.