But they made it clear they were not going to compete financially for the soon to be 30-year-old who wanted to become the league’s highest-paid player at the position and had no interest in giving the team he grew up rooting for a home discount.
So the Cowboys were never in it and had moved on well before Thomas achieved his goal with a four-year, $55 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens Wednesday.
This was possibly Thomas’ last deal and he wanted to maximize his earning potential as a perennial Pro Bowler and likely future Hall of Famer.
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He is getting $32 million in guaranteed money, including $22 million in the first nine months, according to various reports.
The deal compares favorably to the six-year, $84 million deal Landon Collins got from the Baltimore Ravens as well as the three-year, $42 million contract Tyrann Mathieu got from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Again, the Cowboys were never going to go that far for Thomas because of his age and injury history. They also have more pressing financial priorities, including signing free agent defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and getting contract extensions for quarterback Dak Prescott, receiver Amari Cooper and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
It means the Cowboys will likely stand pat at safety in free agency and possibly address the position in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Cowboys like the continued progress of Xavier Woods at free safety. Jeff Heath started at strong safety last season and could be targeted for an upgrade. Kavon Frazier and Darion Thompson are the two other safeties on the roster.
The Cowboys were interested in Thomas, dating back to the 2018 off-season when they initially engaged in trade talks with the Seattle Seahawks. They even offered a second-round pick for Thomas before the trade deadline last fall. But that was also before Thomas suffered a season-ending fractured leg.
Thomas has long expressed a desire to play for the Cowboys, who grew up a fan in Orange, Texas and played at the University of Texas. He famously came up to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett after a game in 2017, asking him to come get him if free agency.
That former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard is the Cowboys secondary coach/passing game coordinator is another tie that binds.
But in the end, familiarity and affinity didn’t matter.
It came down to money.
The Cowboys didn’t want to pay the money. Thomas got it from the Ravens.
The Cowboys did make one move on Wednesday. They re-signed fullback Jamize Olawele to a one-year contract extension.