FRISCO - The Houston Texans' flirtation with Earl Thomas is over. ... before it ever truly began. The Dallas Cowboys' flirtation? It is at this point nothing more than a fun radio segment.
What motivated Houston's decision to pull the plug on the idea? Do the Cowboys - who really haven't moved here - have the same motivation to do likewise? as it the baggage? The money? Both?
ESPN on Monday reported that Earl Thomas was in Houston, and that he's "likely'' bound to sign a contract with the Texans.
But by Tuesday, an assortment of reports suggested that the visit didn't occur, and by the afternoon, the venerable John McClain reported that Houston is out on the potential acquisition.
Thomas, long recognized as a team leader and future Hall of Famer, saw much of that fade in his final year in Seattle and in his single season in Baltimore, after which he was essentially invited to leave this summer.
Thomas's history of football heroics as a member of the Seattle Seahawks is legendary stuff, sidelined when his money dispute with the club caused him to trot into the home-team locker room at AT&T Stadium, openly flaunting his desire to somehow, someday, join his home-state Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas, of course, flirted with the idea multiple times, with 2018 trade proposals and then 2019 touch-base talks, before the Ravens blew Thomas away with the four-year, $55-million deal with $32 million guaranteed.
On Tuesday morning, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones nudged the door open a bit in his interview with "Shan & RJ'' on 105.3 The Fan. Jones indicated he was acutely aware of the Thomas situation and that he is "on top of it.''
But that wasn't movement; that was talk.
The Texans never flirted much; our assessment is that they are acutely aware of the baggage the Texas native Thomas now carries -behavioral baggage that in theory he's addressed in recent weeks as the seven-time Pro Bowler made efforts to re-enter the NFL.
And maybe the baggage was judged to be too heavy. On the personal side: Thomas’s wife Nina was arrested for allegedly pointing a gun at Thomas on the early morning of April 13. Nina had tracked down Thomas at a short-term rental home in Austin, where she found the safety and his brother, Seth, in bed with two women, according to a police affidavit. Thomas told the police he had been “romantically involved” with one of the women in bed for months.
On the football side: Thomas was sent home from Ravens training camp following an altercation with fellow safety Chuck Clark, which started with Clark barking at Thomas for blowing a coverage, turned to near-fisticuffs, and then was accelerated when Thomas posted since-removed video of the play meant to clear his name.
But ... not many people argue against Thomas as a player. ... In that department, he'd be a vast improvement in a beleaguered Dallas secondary that is central to the fact that the Cowboys are just 1-2.
There is the issue of his grievance with Baltimore, which may end up getting him paid $10 million - with his new team's salary involved in an off-set. (In other words, the Texans could offer him a portion of $10 million with him planning to get the rest from Baltimore.
But maybe there is not enough clarity there for anyone to write a check.
There are those who care personally about Thomas, the University of Texas product, who believe his erratic behavior suggests he needs help. He's slid from "colorful'' to "controversial'' and while he's just 31, and therefore theoretically completely capable of helping the Texans or any future team.
There are those who care about Earl Thomas who believe he needs guidance in helping himself. But in any event, there won't be help coming from Houston ... and in Dallas, all there seems to be is highly-entertaining radio talk.