We are now only a few days away from the 2018 season opener and the Cowboys still are searching for a free safety. If they were playing tomorrow, second stringer Kavon Frazier would be starting, despite having a separated shoulder. Xavier Woods, the projected starter, is dealing with a hamstring injury that could sideline him the start of the season. Many believe those two healthy will not be enough to get the job done meaning Earl Thomas trade speculation is back.
“We’re certainly not naive,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said at the team’s annual Kickoff Luncheon on Wednesday. “We’re looking for safety help out there as we are offensive line help. With Xavier being a big question mark for the first game, second game, whatever it is he might miss, we’re certainly on that. Obviously, Kavon got a little busted up as well in terms of his shoulder. But he’s a tough guy, and we feel good about him playing against Carolina. But we’re on the hunt for Red October there — both safety and offensive line.”
For those not familiar with Earl Thomas’ offseason, the former All-Pro has been holding out through the entirety of training camp. He has demanded that the Seattle Seahawks either give him an extension or trade him to a team that will. Thomas has one year left on a five-year deal in Seattle and is owed around $10.4 million in 2018. He is 29 with eight NFL seasons and 121 regular-season games under his belt. The six-time Pro Bowler’s resume includes 642 tackles, 63 pass deflections, and 25 interceptions, along with multiple trips to the Super Bowl.
Thomas has been linked to the Dallas Cowboys mainly because he’s discussed it multiple times. Following a December victory over the Dallas Cowboys last season, the Seahawks free safety told Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, “If y’all have the chance, come get me.” A very bizarre statement coming from a player on a team still in the playoff hunt.
Earl Thomas on visiting Cowboys locker room after game: When the Seahawks kick me to the curb, please, Cowboys, come get me pic.twitter.com/gqp0eb2VFo
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) December 25, 2017
Thomas clarified the intentions of his visit to reporters soon after.
“I’ve always been a Cowboys fan growing up. The biggest thing when I said, ‘come get me,’ I didn’t literally mean, ‘come get me now,'” Thomas explained to reporters. “I’m still in the prime of my career, I still want to be here. But when Seattle kicks me to the curb, please, the Cowboys, come get me. You know? This is the place where I want to be when they kick me to the curb. So that’s what I meant by. People take me too seriously. That’s just who I am.”
Thomas also discussed what was going on from his perspective in a Player’s Tribune piece that came out on August 2.
We know from reports that the Cowboys and Seahawks discussed an Earl Thomas trade around the draft. Last spring, the Seahawks reportedly wanted a second-round pick. The Cowboys front office countered with their third rounder, and the Seahawks said no. But this was the spring, not a few days before the season.
The simplest way to put this situation is that both teams are playing chicken. The Seahawks have moved on from Thomas and the legion of boom. With their championship hopes very small, it makes sense to not pay a safety over $10 million per year. Even if it’s one of the best players in franchise history. They are trying to offload the salary of a player in the final year of his contract, while also obtaining a high draft pick. This makes sense from a rebuilding perspective.
The Cowboys would argue they have the core of their team locked in with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and their talented offensive line. A player like Thomas could help transform the defense into a legit championship contender. Add in that his former defensive coordinator in Seattle, Kris Richard, is now the Dallas defensive backs coach. Thomas would fit right into the Dallas defense.
Is that worth a second round pick in 2019? I think so. I would prefer a third rounder, but the opportunity to acquire a player of Thomas’ caliber doesn’t come around very often. He clearly wants to be in Dallas and brings a championship pedigree to a team ready to take the next step. The Cowboys should trade for Thomas to help solidify the back end of their secondary in 2018.