The Ravens sent Earl Thomas home after he had an altercation with a teammate.
The Indianapolis Colts’ roster is loaded with talent, but most fans would agree that its most glaring weakness lies in the secondary, particularly the safety position. At cornerback, the projected starting duo of Xavier Rhodes and Rock Ya-Sin will hopefully be able to hold their own.
When it comes to safety, however, there’s no telling what Indianapolis is going to get from Malik Hooker, who will have a ton to prove after the franchise declined the fifth-year option on his rookie deal and reportedly dangled him in trade talks earlier in the offseason. There’s obviously no denying the Ohio State product’s talent, but he’s struggled with both consistency and injuries over his first three seasons in the NFL.
With all of this in mind, it wouldn’t be out of bounds for Indy to ponder upgrading the position via trade, and it just so happens that perennial stud Earl Thomas currently isn’t in the good graces of the Baltimore Ravens, who could make him available.
This begs the question: Should the Colts consider trading for the seven-time Pro Bowler and avoid having to race to sign him if the Ravens release him?
It doesn’t take a football scholar to understand that Thomas, even entering his 11th season, is still one of the best safeties the NFL has to offer. From strictly a football standpoint, the 31-year-old could help morph Indianapolis’ defense from average to a legitimately elite group.
However, his recent antics also have to be considered by the Colts. It was reported a few hours ago that Thomas was sent home from Baltimore’s facility following a fight with teammate Chuck Clark during practice. This marked his second alarming escapade in the last four months.
Even casual football fans will remember the disturbing incident Thomas was involved in back in April, when his wife held a loaded gun to his head after he was caught cheating on her with another woman. The former first-round pick doesn’t have a track record of off-field distractions, but does general manager Chris Ballard really want to give up assets for a potential locker room hindrance?
Thomas currently has three years remaining on his four-year, $55 million contract, which includes a potential out after the 2021 season. Over the next two campaigns, he will account for a combined $35 million cap hit.
Indianapolis obviously has the financial flexibility to meet those payments, but we believe the franchise would better off avoiding a trade for the three-time All-Pro. The potential rewards simply don’t outweigh the risks. The only way this could work is if Thomas rids himself of his issues starting anew in Indy and the Colts acquire him in a swap involving Hooker.
But the team could just be better off seeing how Hooker performs in a contract year and take it from there. If he exceeds expectations, then the Colts should re-sign him. If not, they could let the former Buckeye walk and set their sights on free agency, which is shaping up to have a number of intriguing options.