There ya have it. I said yesterday that the situation was one that was likely irreparable, and the team didn't take long to make their decision. It speaks volumes about how toxic the relationship with Earl was that the Ravens were willing to eat that contract just to get rid of him. Also speaks volumes that little to nothing has been said regarding Chuck Clark's role in the training camp fight that proved to be the final straw.
This was a long time coming. This is a team with championship aspirations and a championship culture, which means nobody is above the team. Earl consistently wasn't pulling his weight and patience had been wearing very thin among his teammates. Being late and skipping team meetings just isn't going to fly. Neither is going rogue in practice and ignoring assignments. At one point yesterday, Earl posted a video on his instagram of the play that lead to the altercation in an attempt to save face. At the end of the play, you can see Chuck Clark unstrap his helmet and slam it into the turf in frustration after Earl blew his coverage. It was posted in an attempt to make Clark look like the instigator. Truth of the matter is that Clark had simply had enough and was well within his rights to hold Earl accountable.
It's being reported by mainstream media outlets that Earl was released "after the training camp altercation", which is factually correct, but can also be a tad bit misleading. The team had actually quietly involved him in some trade discussions in the couple of days prior to the incident. Who knows how things play out if the fight doesn't occur, but it sounds a lot like an incident was inevitable. His behavior has been labeled as psychopathic. Everything in how the organization has acted in the aftermath has spoken truth to that. They are cutting him for conduct detrimental to the team and saying nothing more.
For all the laudatory things I say about Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh, you have to call them out when things go awry. The Earl Thomas signing was a major bust. Earl was only one year into a 4-year $55M deal and will cost us some cap space without playing a snap for the team in 2020. There are capologists out there that have the scenarios on how grievances will be filed and all the ramifications that go with that, but there's no question that this will hurt against the cap. EDC took a calculated risk in bringing ET in and we got burned. Having said that, you have to commend the veterans on this football team and the culture that Harbaugh and EDC foster for saying enough is enough and cutting ties.
Now, that still leaves the Ravens with a situation at the safety position. Both the coaching staff and the players' "leadership council" have spoken highly of DeShon Elliott, who has played well in 3 safety packages.
Issue is, he's only been healthy enough to dress for 6 games in his 2 years in the league. Thankfully the team also drafted Geno Stone in the 7th round this year. Stone is a guy who was widely considered a middle round guy, and simply fell because this was a very deep draft. The team has also been working Jimmy Smith in at safety, which will surely be a project but we're all familiar with what Jimmy is capable of (when healthy). We've seen Anthony Levine play more and more safety as he's aged, Lardarius Webb carved out a nice niche for himself for a couple of years as a safety, and it looks like Jimmy is the next to follow in those footsteps.
Talent-wise, we're worse off without Earl Thomas. Nobody is discounting that fact. But when it comes to keeping a healthy locker room and a cohesive defensive unit, this move had to be made. I can't express that enough. There will be some bumps and bruises during the season and people might second-guess this decision when those instances arise, but the Ravens are better off without him. Period.