After losing multiple defenders this offseason, the Baltimore Ravens made a splash signing.
Safety Earl Thomas signed a four-year, $55 million contract with the Ravens on Wednesday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source informed of the deal. ESPN first reported the pact.
The contract includes $32 million guaranteed and averages $14.33 million over the first three years, per Rapoport.
Thomas sat as the highest player left on NFL.com’s Top 101 free agents list heading into the new league year, which opens at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Turning 30 in May, Thomas was looking for a big payday on the open market, and the Ravens backed up the truck. The $13.75 million per year average over the course of the deal for Thomas comes in just behind the contracts agreed to by Landon Collins (Washington Redskins) and Tyrann Mathieu (Kansas City Chiefs) this week, both of whom will sign deals worth $14 million per season. The trio all outdistanced Eric Berry’s deal of $13 million per season, which had sat atop the safety market.
Despite playing just four games in 2018 before suffering a broken leg, Thomas earned his new big salary.
The NFL’s premier centerfielder, Thomas is a complete game-changer on the back end of a defense, with ball-hawking skills and a penchant for big plays. Since being drafted by the Seahawks in the first round of the 2010 draft, Thomas has compiled 664 tackles, 28 interceptions, 68 passes defended and countless highlight-reel plays.
Thomas is the only player in the NFL with 25-plus INTs and 10-plus forced fumbles since 2010, per NFL Research.
In the veteran, the Ravens are getting a playmaker who can close the deep middle. According to Pro Football Focus, Thomas has played the fourth-most coverage snaps in the middle of the field in a closed coverage scheme (1,323) since 2015, and has excelled in the deep middle safety role, allowing just a 58.5 completion percentage, third best in the NFL in that span.
The addition of Thomas is huge for a Ravens team that anticipated a talent drainage ahead of the new league year. Baltimore released veteran safety Eric Weddle and watched C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith agree to sign elsewhere. Replacing Weddle with Thomas provides the Ravens with a veteran presence on the back end with upgraded range.
In addition to adding Thomas, the Ravens also signed running back Mark Ingram to a three-year, $15 million deal, Rapoport reported. After days of watching players agree elsewhere, the Ravens are making their big moves in an effort to fend off the hard-charging Cleveland Browns in the AFC North.
Signing Thomas continues the trend of the Ravens boasting all-time great safeties. From Ed Reed to Eric Weddle now to Earl Thomas, Baltimore fans have had decades of watching some of the best safeties ever patrol the field.
With the Ravens set to travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks at some point in the 2019 campaign, fire up the #RevengeGame takes after Thomas was last seen in Seattle gesturing towards his former team’s sideline after breaking his leg.