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Taking the hit: Fight with teammate could cost NFL star $15MN as Baltimore Ravens sack Earl Thomas in decision 'backed by players'

Taking the hit: Fight with teammate could cost NFL star $15MN as Baltimore Ravens sack Earl Thomas in decision 'backed by players'
Seven-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas could lose his guaranteed salary of $10 million as part of a total hit of $15 million, having been axed by the Baltimore Ravens following a fight at training with fellow safety Chuck Clark.

Thomas was less than halfway through a four-year, $55 million contract that had been the most lucrative deal handed to a defensive player in contract history.

The Ravens persuaded the 31-year-old to ditch a verbal agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs when he signed in 2019, but are now seeking to void his guaranteed salary of $10 million after his latest altercation with a teammate in a move that has reportedly been backed by the squad.

Thomas angrily confronted Chuck Clark after missing an assignment in a practise session, posting a now-deleted Instagram video of the incident and writing: "Being sent home sucks.

"A mental error on my part. A busted coverage that I tried to explain calmly...turned into me getting into [a confrontation] with a teammate."

The footage showed Clark ripping off his helmet and throwing it to the ground, while an ESPN source said that Thomas had thrown a punch.

Leading players told the Ravens' management that they supported a release or trade for Thomas, according to NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo.

In a brief statement that appeared to hint at a future grievance case, the Ravens said that they had axed Thomas for "personal conduct" that had "adversely affected" the team.

They have already paid Thomas $22 million and are hoping to avoid a $15 million salary-cap hit following their decision, which could cost $5 million this season and $10 million next year should a claim fail.

DeShon Elliott, a 2018 sixth-round pick, is expected to provide an inexperienced replacement for Thomas, although their departing player struggled at times in his only season.

Thomas was also involved in a row with nose tackle Brandon Williams after a loss to Cleveland 11 months ago, although the disagreement did not become physical because bystanders in the Baltimore locker room stepped in.

He also missed or was late to several meetings throughout his 17-month stay, according to ESPN.

His nine-year spell with Seattle ended with Thomas raising a middle finger at coach Pete Carroll while being carried from the field with a leg injury.

Responding to the announcement on Instagram, Thomas said he "appreciated" the "opportunity" he had been given by the Ravens and thanked General Manager Eric DaCosta.

"Had a great run," he added.

"Wish things could have ended differently but you live and learn."

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