Earl Thomas was all set to visit the Houston Texans when a rash of positive COVID-19 tests elsewhere put his employment audition on hold.
Instead of working out for the team in Houston, Thomas' meeting was canceled as a result of what Texans coach Bill O'Brien called "a unique couple of days."
"Yesterday, early in the morning we got a phone call from the league relative to Minnesota and Tennessee, what was going on there with those two teams," O'Brien said. "So we decided -- we had a bunch of guys in here ready to work out -- we said instead of keeping those guys holed up in a hotel, potentially to be there several days, we didn't know at that point. It was better for us to just cancel the workouts. We had several workouts."
With the league implementing a strict protocol for player visits and workouts amid the ongoing pandemic, prospective additions don't just simply fly in, work out and fly out anymore. They must test and isolate, requiring the aforementioned hotel stay, before they can audition.
It was revealed that four Titans players and five Titans personnel members tested positive for COVID-19, and as a result, both the Titans and the Vikings (the team Tennessee played against Sunday) shut down facilities while performing contact tracing and additional testing. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urged all teams to consider their method for hosting players for tryouts in a memo responding to the news of the positive COVID-19 tests.
That is why Thomas has yet to work out with the Texans as anticipated, not anything that has to do with Thomas' ability or character, O'Brien said.
"Earl Thomas is a hell of a player, he's had a great career," the coach continued. "Again, we had a bunch of guys in and we decided to cancel. You know, we'll see how it goes moving forward, but that's really what it was. It's not anything other than that. Got a lot of respect for Earl."
Houston would have been Thomas' first official workout with an interested team since he was released by the Ravens for conduct detrimental to the team in August.