As Earl Thomas hits the free agent market, these five teams look like the best destinations for him.
After a long holdout last preseason, Earl Thomas showed up for the Seattle Seahawks in time for Week 1 and played at typically high level (91.3 overall grade from Pro Football Focus; second among safeties if he had qualified).
But Thomas suffered a broken leg in Week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals, with a profane salute to the Seahawks’ sideline when he was carted off the field. That ended the trade speculation surrounding him, as the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs had surfaced most prominently with rumored interest.
The early-season injury isn’t all bad for Thomas, as he should be 100 percent healthy when free agency launches. Injuries have become a concern, with 19 missed games now over the last three seasons, but he should have no trouble finding the kind of contract he wanted from the Seahawks but didn’t get.
An elite safety like Thomas, even if he’s lost a step coming off a broken leg and approaching 30 years old, will have a notable market. But these five teams stand as the top free agent destinations for the six-time Pro Bowler.
5. Green Bay Packers
The Packers were mostly a mess in the secondary last year, shy of cornerback Jaire Alexander. Trading Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Redskins exposed a particular weakness at safety, as an aging Tramon Williams moved from corner to fill that void and went without an interception all season. Kentrell Brice took over a starting spot at safety last season and was often overmatched, and 2017 second-round pick Josh Jones looks like a bust two years in. Finding at least one starting caliber safety, in free agency or the draft, has to be high on the offseason checklist.
The Packers sit firmly in the middle of the pack in cap space right now, with a little over $34 million available (via Spotrac). So they could be pretty active in free agency, with the primary question being if they’ll make any notable splashes.
It will come down to Thomas’ asking price, and the length of the deal he wants. But the Packers should have interest right out of the gate, as they try to get something out of the remainder of Aaron Rodgers’ prime.