The NFL fan base is abuzz speculating the landing spots for seven-time Pro Bowl safety and three-time All-Pro Earl Thomas after his release from the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. As always, when these players come available, Steelers Nation goes crazy envisioning these players in black-and-gold. This is mostly due to the fact that players like Thomas are a big name and we, as Steelers fans, crave big names.
Only twice in recent history has a big name become available with the Steelers winning the sweepstakes. It was in 2017 with Joe Haden coming available after his release in Cleveland and last season when Minkah Fitzpatrick asked for a trade out of South Beach. Those were two of the few times when the player availability made monetary sense and ended up being a good fit. But big names aren’t always what’s best for the cohesion, chemistry and the well-being of the team as a whole.
With Thomas’ release, many Steelers fans are crying out for the former Seattle Seahawk and AFC North foe with Baltimore to don hypocycloids on his helmet. But many a time, we need to look deep and examine the circumstances of said player’s unemployment and not to be afraid to pass on a player, no matter how impressive the on-field resume’ is. Sure he’s a Super Bowl champion and was a devastating presence and terrorizer of offensive opponents since 2010. However, Thomas is seeking a new home because of conduct detrimental to the team when he attempted to punch fellow safety Chuck Clark.
Clark reportedly confronted Thomas when the veteran blew a play in practice. It has been further alleged that Thomas’ increased propensity to throw the team scheme out the window and freelance. It was not the first time something like this occurred. Earl’s heated exchange with an injured Brandon Williams after a Week Four loss and his flipping off of the Seattle bench after a broken leg sidelined him for the remainder of 2018 seem to be further evidence of his apparent selfishness and the lack of respect for the team concept. The Baltimore Sun reported that an anonymous team official suggested the Ravens were looking into the March orgy incident that ended with Thomas’ wife holding a gun to his head to determine whether his conduct violated his contract. The reason being his failure to adapt to Wink Martindale’s schemes and his freelancing putting him in a state of discord with teammates.
Steelers fans, doesn’t this all seem to be way to familiar? The team is finally starting to pick up the pieces and put the disruptive behavior of Antonio Brown behind them. They don’t need that stench infecting a unit that embraces the team concept. The 11-year veteran also doesn’t currently fit within the parameters of the team’s salary cap, But Omar Khan could make room if the guy that the Steelers covet becomes available.
He’s done it before.
Sure, a guy like Thomas paired with Minkah Fitzpatrick in the Steelers secondary would be quite tempting, even though they both play free safety. But I’d rather have a guy like Terrell Edmunds back in that position. The incumbent strong safety has been scratching and clawing in training camp and embraces a team first mentality.
The bottom line to the whole thing is that good team’s know how to fit in pieces that create the team puzzle. Thomas could be a square peg trying to fit in a round Steelers hole. Forcing it in might destroy the whole game. I’m glad that a player of Thomas’ caliber is no longer in the employ of the Steelers’ biggest rival, the Ravens. And with everything else being said, I don’t really care where Thomas goes...as long as it’s not in Pittsburgh.