Could Ravens be laying foundation to cut Earl Thomas, avoid $10 million guaranteed salary?
It was one thing to see that Ravens safeties Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark fought in practice on Friday. It was quite another to see that the team sent Thomas home in the aftermath of the fracas.
Thomas has a fully-guaranteed salary of $10 million in 2020. But this doesn’t mean he’s untouchable. PFT has obtained a copy of his contract, and it’s clear that the guarantee for 2020 evaporates if he’s suspended by the Ravens for conduct detrimental to the team.
It’s hardly a foolproof plan; Thomas would fight any such suspension, and the Ravens would have to show that they’ve taken all proper steps to lay the foundation for the suspension, consistent with past practices and other relevant circumstances that would allow the move to be upheld in arbitration. Lose, and the Ravens would owe him the $10 million. Win, and they save both cash and cap space in that amount.
Even if they can avoid the guarantee, cutting Thomas would result in a $5 million cap charge in 2020 and another $10 million in 2021. However, if the suspension sticks, the Ravens would balance out the 2021 cap hit with a $10 million credit.
It’s unclear where the organization stands on Thomas, but the decision to send him home suggests that they aren’t simply making excuses for a star player, like every team does. And that could be a result of the reality that Thomas no longer is regarded as a star player. A league source has informed PFT that, indeed, multiple teammates have become disenchanted with Thomas, and that they no longer regard him as a high-level player.
Depending on the extent to which the locker room at large agrees with that sentiment, keeping Thomas around could have an intangible cost far greater than whatever it ultimately would cost the Ravens to move on.