After the release of Earl Thomas on Sunday, the Ravens will now be looking to deal with the consequences. While there was mutual agreement among the players and coaches that Thomas should be released, the Ravens still have lost one of the great players on their team. What impact will this move have on the team in the short and long term? Let’s find out…
Short Term Impact
It seems Thomas had this coming. Experiencing altercations with team-mates in the past, Thomas was walking a thin line with the Ravens even before his conflict with fellow safety Chuck Clark. Reports have surfaced revealing Thomas to be late to team meetings as well, which just adds to his pile of issues. We also can’t forget the situation with his wife back in the spring.
Thomas’ on and off field problems seem to have caught up with him. The Ravens made him pay for it. Considering this is a team in dire hopes of winning a Super Bowl this season, with players such as Lamar Jackson who will stop at nothing to achieve the goal, a huge sigh of relief will come from the Ravens locker room. Players can now move past the drama, hit the restart button, and continue working hard to win a championship without anyone holding them back.
The same can be said for the Ravens coaching staff, especially John Harbaugh, who wants players on his team to have great physical ability, but also good on and off field actions. Harbaugh will not let one player get in the way of his team’s high ambitions for a successful 2020 season.
In the short term, I feel Earl Thomas’ release is a positive for the Ravens. It gets rid of any previous or current distraction in the locker room and reinforces the team’s ultimate goal, which is to win a Super Bowl.
Long Term Impact
Even though Thomas’ discharge has a seemingly positive impact on the team, there still remains the problem of replacing his talent. The immediate next-man-up at FS is 2nd–year-man Deshon Elliott. While Elliott exhibited talent last season and in camp, he had very little playing time, which calls for concern. While certainly a good player, it is hard to depend on Elliott to be a solid starter and a replacement for Thomas.
In his five appearances last season, Elliott accumulated 6 tackles and 1 pass deflection. While this is not much to go off of, it does show Elliott can compete considering the small amount of playing time he managed to receive behind Earl Thomas. Is Deshon Elliott the simple answer to replace Earl Thomas at FS? Maybe, but only his progress in training camp and actual playtime in real games will let us know for sure.
Another possibility? Ravens move Anthony Levine Sr. over to FS. With Chuck Clark the set-in-stone SS, Levine could get some time at FS to compete against Elliott. Levine has not seen a ton of playing time considering he has been in the league for 8 seasons, but his experience could help him get the starting job while Elliott progresses.
Maybe the Ravens should sign a free agent. While it seems unlikely, it would not hurt the Ravens to sign someone with experience and starting capability. Former Giants FS Antoine Bethea has 13 seasons of experience, had a solid year for New York in 2019 despite slowing down because of age, racking up 110 total tackles, with 1 interception, and starting all 16 games. The Ravens don’t necessarily need another Earl Thomas at FS, but do need someone reliable who can keep the secondary in check. Bethea is definitely capable.
The release of Earl Thomas has positives and negatives which are impacting the team now and could have future implications. While this move seems to bring a breath of fresh air to the locker room, the Ravens still have to replace a tremendously talented player going into a season where much is expected from them. The Ravens have plenty of options when considering how to replace Thomas, and they will certainly find the best man for the job. However, until Week 1, fans can only speculate as to how the Ravens will move forward in the hopes of winning a Super Bowl without Earl Thomas.