Dallas Cowboys

With the free agency tampering period open, are the Cowboys in or out on Earl Thomas?

The NFL’s legal tampering period with potential free agents began on Monday at noon. No contracts can be signed until Wednesday when free agency officially begins.

So it was the first time the Dallas Cowboys could officially negotiate with Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas.

The question of whether they were in or out on pursuing Thomas could finally be answered.

No more back-channel meetings or conversations through mediators.

According to a source, as long as Thomas is still trying to be the highest paid safety in the league, they are out.

The price of at least $13 million and possibly as high as $15 annually is simply a bridge too far for a Cowboys team planning to squeeze lucrative deals for defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, quarterback Dak Prescott, receiver Amari Cooper, running back Ezekiel Elliott and cornerback Byron Jones on a cap that already has guard Zack Martin, tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick among the top paid players in the league at their respective positions.

It’s no secret that the Cowboys would love to add Thomas to the back end of the defense. He is the best safety in the NFL and would be a perfect fit with secondary coach/passing coordinator Kris Richard, who coached in Seattle before coming to the Cowboys last season.

The Cowboys offered a second-round pick to the Seahawks for him last season.

So he has been discussed, according to another source.

But while the Cowboys are fond of Thomas, they do like the progress of Xavier Woods at free safety. So they are interested but not desperate.

Thomas has stated a desire to join the Cowboys, his favorite team growing up in Orange, Texas. The affinity never left while in college at the University of Texas or during his time in Seattle.

But Thomas, who will be 30 next season, has no interest in lowering his contract demands to live out a childhood dream. Per a source, he has no interest in giving the Cowboys a home discount.

Thomas is expected to have a robust market in free agency with the San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs as possible suitors, making it likely he gets the money he desires when free agency officially begins on Wednesday.

If the money comes down considerably, the Cowboys could get back in on Thomas.

But as of now, they are out.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.