The Baltimore Ravens announced on August 23 that they have released seven-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas. This announcement came two days after Thomas had an on-field altercation with teammate Chuck Clark.
The Ravens announced the reason they terminated Thomas’ contract was for conduct that adversely affected the team. Baltimore is expected to attempt to void his $10 million guaranteed salary for the upcoming season. In response, the Pro Bowl safety is expected to file a grievance.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Thomas punched Clark during practice on August 21. After Thomas blew a coverage during the team’s fourth training camp practice, Clark ripped off his helmet in anger and threw it on the ground. Thomas then punched Clark in response. The Ravens teammates had to be separated by players and coaches.
Thomas, 31, was sent home on August 21 and has not returned to the team’s facility since the on-field incident with Clark. Along with a few noteworthy altercations with teammates in Baltimore, Thomas also missed or was late to several meetings during his 17 months with the team.
Thomas posted on his Instagram story shortly after the official announcement was made on August 23.
“Appreciate the Ravens organization for the opportunity,” he wrote. “Had a great run .. Wish things would have ended different but you live and you learn. Thank you [Ravens GM] Eric DeCosta and everyone else who played a role in bringing him to B-More. Wish you guys the best.”
After practice on August 23, Ravens coach John Harbaugh refused to comment beyond the team’s 16-word tweet announcing the safety’s release.
“I think the statement speaks for itself,” Harbaugh said. “There’s not much more to add to that. Just planning on leaving it at that, at this point.”
The Ravens will take a $15 million salary-cap hit for releasing Thomas, unless if they are able to void his $10 million guaranteed salary this upcoming season for conduct detrimental to the team. If the Ravens are able to void Thomas’ guaranteed cap hit, the safety will count $5 million against the cap this season and $10 million next season.
This move by the Ravens to release Thomas comes just three weeks before the start of the 2020 regular season. Thomas made it to the Pro Bowl during his first and only season in Baltimore.
In Thomas’ place, the Ravens are expected to start 2018 sixth-round pick DeShon Elliott at free safety for the time being. Elliott has played only six games in his two NFL seasons because of injuries.