Baltimore Ravens should stay in-house for Earl Thomas replacement
The Earl Thomas cut has come as a bit of a surprise for the Baltimore Ravens, but they have all the in-house talent to replace him for 2020.
It wasn’t long ago that the Earl Thomas signing for the Baltimore Ravens was lauded as a terrific signing. Baltimore inked the future Hall of Fam safety to a four-year $55 million deal that made a good secondary an elite one. Thomas’s ball-hawking prowess and leadership skills were expected to make the defense a fearsome unit from top to bottom.
Thomas met expectations, despite a modest output in the box score. Thomas recorded just two interceptions, but he remained one of the league’s best cover safeties that opposing quarterbacks were afraid to throw at. Fans were disappointed in his low statistical output, but he was nonetheless voted into the Pro Bowl for his seventh appearance.
It seemed like Earl Thomas’s future in Baltimore would be a bright one and long one, until Thomas had an offseason straight out of our nightmares. Thomas had some marital issues that painted the safety in a very negative way, although this has nothing to do with his play on the field. The wheels really fell when Thomas got into it with teammate Chuck Clark over his play on the practice field. Thomas was dismissed from practice for his antics.
Today, Sunday, August 23, 2020, Earl Thomas was released from the team. Baltimore did this in spite of a lofty cap hit in dead money.
The question now that everyone is wondering is what will the Ravens do to replace Thomas?
There is a slew of free agents available, including Eric Reid, the most prominent name on the market, and former Raven Tony Jefferson. Reid is coming off career-best 130 tackle season, while Jefferson is recovering from an ACL tear. Jefferson spent three seasons, 2017-2019, with Baltimore. Brandon Carr is another name to watch, as he spent 2017-2019 with the team as a cornerback. Carr did spend some time at safety in 2019.
The Ravens shouldn’t turn to free agents to replace Earl Thomas, however. The team has plenty of in-house talent to replace Thomas, at least for 2020.
Ravens Flock has been clamoring for years about third-year man DeShon Elliott to take a larger role on defense. Elliott was a turnover machine in college for the Texas Longhorns, notching nine career interceptions including six in his final season. The one thing stopping Elliott from playing time has been his health or lack thereof. Elliott should get the first crack for the starting time.
Baltimore also recently spent a draft selection this past draft on Iowa’s Geno Stone. Stone was a seventh-round pick, so expectations should be low, but he was a terrific cover safety. Stone’s prowess as a deep cover man could get him some snaps.
Beyond the youngsters are some veterans that seem more likely to get the playing time. The Ravens have talked about moving 10-year man Jimmy Smith to safety due to the team’s depth at cornerback. With Tavon Young returning to man the slot, Smith could see a full-time move to safety. Young is also a potential candidate for a more unique role defensively.
Baltimore also has veteran Anthony Levine, Sr., better known by fans as “Co-Cap.” Levine could be asked to spend some time at free safety, but his more natural spot is near the line of scrimmage.
All in all, the Baltimore Ravens are more than able to replace Earl Thomas with in-houser players. It would be difficult to sign a guy and have him learn the defense with less than a month before the 2020 season kicks off. Look for the Ravens to trust their guys to replace Thomas for the 2020 season.