- University of Maryland graduate
- Lives in the Baltimore area with his wife and son
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens are abruptly parting ways with seven-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas two days after an on-field altercation with teammate Chuck Clark, the team announced.
The Ravens announced they had terminated his contract for personal conduct that has adversely affected the team. The Ravens are expected to try to void his $10 million guaranteed salary this season. It is expected the safety will file a grievance.
A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Thomas punched Clark during Friday’s practice.
Thomas, 31, was sent home Friday and has not returned to the Ravens’ facility since his on-field altercation with Clark. This was the second fiery exchange with a teammate for Thomas, who confronted nose tackle Brandon Williams after a loss to Cleveland 11 months ago. Thomas also missed or was late to several meetings throughout his 17 months in Baltimore, a source added.
The Dallas Cowboys are the leading contender to sign him, sources told Schefter.
The Ravens wanted to split from Thomas so badly that they are willing to take a major financial hit and move forward without a proven replacement for him. They will take a $15 million salary-cap hit for releasing him, unless they are able to void his $10 million guaranteed salary this season for conduct detrimental to the team. If the Ravens can avoid paying him the guaranteed money, Thomas will count $5 million against the cap this season and $10 million next year.
Without Thomas, the Ravens are inexperienced at free safety. DeShon Elliott, a 2018 sixth-round pick, is expected to step in for Thomas for now. The Ravens like his aggressiveness and upside, but Elliott has been limited to six games in two NFL seasons because of injuries.
This marks the second tumultuous divorce for Thomas. His nine years in Seattle ended with him extending a middle finger to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll while being carted off the field with a leg injury. A little over a year and a half ago, the Ravens were lauded for luring Thomas away from his verbal agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs and signing him to a four-year, $55 million deal, the largest given to a defensive player in franchise history.
Thomas reached the Pro Bowl in his first and only season in Baltimore, but he struggled mightily at times. He gave up on an 88-yard touchdown run by Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb in Week 4 and then got stiff-armed by Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry in the playoffs.
The breaking point came Friday in the team’s fourth training camp practice of the year. After Thomas blew a coverage, Clark angrily ripped off his helmet and threw it to the ground. Thomas then punched Clark, a source said. Both players were separated by teammates and coaches. It’s unusual for two players in the same position group to fight.
That led to Baltimore parting ways with one of its biggest stars three weeks before the start of the regular season.
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