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Ravens-Earl Thomas breakup could get messier with $10 million fight looming

An abrupt fall from grace for “Legion of Boom” member Earl Thomas III could have costly implications.

If the Ravens — as expected— move to recover the $10 million the spurned safety is guaranteed this season, Thomas is expected to file a grievance with the NFL Players Association after their breakup on Sunday.

The drama began on Friday when Thomas allegedly punched safety Chuck Clark during training camp. The incident prompted the 31-year-old’s release on Sunday “for personal conduct that has adversely affected the Baltimore Ravens.”

Thomas joined the Ravens just one year ago via a blockbuster four-year, $55 million deal — the richest contract in franchise history at the position. The deal carries a $15 million dead cap hit in 2020, a $10 million dead cap hit in 2021 and includes $32 million in guaranteed money, of which $10 million is owed this season.

Aside from not wanting to pay a player no longer rostered, at least some of the dead cap liability could be alleviated if the Ravens were to win the grievance. The ruling will be especially poignant in light of the 2021 salary cap, which is expected to shrink as a fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Thomas’ deteriorating relationship with the team long predates Friday’s rout with Clark. He had a “heated talk” with veteran defensive lineman Brandon Williams following an embarrassing Week 4 loss last season and recently came under fire for not informing the Ravens about a domestic dispute in April that resulted in his wife’s arrest after she allegedly brandished a gun at him after catching him in bed with another woman.

Additionally, Pro Football Talk’s Peter King reported on Monday that Thomas was “not well-liked by his teammates” due to tardiness, absenteeism and lack of preparedness.

King added that the NFLPA would also represent Clark and the rest of Ravens who “are not on Thomas’ side.”

Earl Thomas and Chuck ClarkGetty Images

The 2010 first-round pick was an integral member of the Seahawks’ fearsome defensive unit that helped defeat the Broncos in Super Bowl 48. His chapter in Seattle also came to an end on sour terms amid a preseason contract holdout in 2018 and a broken leg in Week 4. The seven-time Pro Bowler gave head coach Pete Carroll the finger as he was carted off the field and was placed on injured reserve.

Thomas’ prospects will be quite different this time around, even after a solid season on the field. While still regarded as one of the premier defensive backs in the league, consecutive departures from two highly respected teams will undoubtedly carry a caveat emptor stigma.

He has reportedly attracted interest from the Cowboys. Other possible destinations include the Eagles, Patriots and 49ers.

“Appreciate the Ravens organizations for the opportunity. Had a great run,” Thomas wrote in his Instagram story. “Wish things would have ended differently, but you live and you learn. Thank you Eric DeCosta and everyone else who has played a role in bringing me to B-More. Wish you guys the best.”

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