Earl Thomas wound up in a fight with teammate Chuck Clark yesterday which isn’t really notable as camp skirmishes happen all the time, but was is notable is that the Ravens sent Thomas home because of if. This immediately began speculation that the Ravens may be looking to find a way out of the contract for Thomas, which guarantees him $10 million this season.
The @Ravens situation with Earl Thomas could come to a head today. Sources said the team’s Leadership Council made it clear to decision makers they would prefer Thomas not be around. Cap hit could be issue but “conduct detrimental” clause provides potential avenue for relief— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 22, 2020
Apparently Thomas did not attend practice this morning which should open the question up as to whether the team still told him to not attend or if the absence is unexcused. The guarantees in a contract can void for a number of reasons and one of the reasons is failure to practice with the team or report to the team. So that may be one avenue to try to escape the contract.
Conduct detrimental is a kind of a catch all situation but you also have to set some kind of trend line of repeated team violations over the course of a league year. If you remember back to last summer with all the Antonio Brown drama in Oakland the Raiders basically suffered through multiple situations before they finally pulled the conduct suspension and subsequently released Brown.
Brown filed a grievance after that and I would imagine the same would occur here. The Ravens would likely need a lot of other things to fall back on if they planned on winning a grievance because a fight with a teammate alone would not cut it.
Thomas signed a four year, $55 million contract last year with $32 million guaranteed. He currently counts $15 million on the salary cap. If the team released him following a voiding of guarantees his cap charge would fall to $5 million in 2020 and then $10 million in 2021. The grievance would then put a $4 million hold on the Ravens 2020 salary cap. That number could change depending on the outcome of any grievance.
If released outright then the Ravens would carry $15 million in cap charges this year and $10 million in 2020. That would not make much sense for Baltimore and it would make more sense to explore a trade, even one where the Ravens eat some of the money to make it work.
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Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.