NFL: Pro Bowl-AFC Practice
USATSI

Reports of the Texans' desire to sign troubled safety Earl Thomas became very public by the middle of last week, but the team ultimately opted not to enter into any agreement with the free agent despite some close to him believing a signing was imminent. That's because numerous Texans players expressed their displeasure about bringing Thomas into their locker room, team sources said, ultimately convincing coach/general manager Bill O'Brien to back off.

Thomas had an ugly falling-out with the Seahawks, where he performed at a Hall of Fame level, and did not make it to a second season with the Ravens before being terminated for cause (pending a likely grievance hearing) during training camp. Thomas was not well liked at all in Baltimore and was seen as a lone wolf who did not want to buy into the team concept. His attitude and declining play turned off other players; he routinely showed up late or unprepared, as has been previously reported, and the Ravens' leadership council strongly urged coach John Harbaugh and team officials to release Thomas after he threw a punch at safety Chuck Clark during practice.

The Texans and Ravens played in Week 2, and sources said that several Texans players were well aware of Thomas's behavior as the topic came up during warmups and pregame banter. The winless Texans have struggled on defense, and safety has been a concern after losing players like Tyrann Mathieu and Eric Reid in recent years, which led O'Brien to consider the addition of Thomas.

But once word of his potential workout, COVID-intake and signing leaked, players responded in an overtly negative fashion, sources said. O'Brien's relationship with the locker room has long been in question, and the controversial trade of star receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the offseason only heightened the tension.

Recent practices have been tense and marked by occasional heated verbal exchanges between coaches and players, and the situation is fairly do-or-die with regards to salvaging a season that began with them defending a division title as they host the Vikings today.