OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens knew what they were getting when they signed Earl Thomas in free agency.
Thomas is an All-Pro safety, a feared ball hawk and a defensive back with swagger. He apparently also is a tough negotiator.
Thomas’ first deal was hammered out before he put on a Ravens uniform, which will feature his preferred No. 29 as a result of some creative talks.
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey had worn that number for his first two seasons in the NFL and initially asked for $100,000 from Thomas in a text exchange, according to the team’s website. Thomas quickly shot that down and came up with an amicable solution.
“His mom has a track team, so I might throw a little bread that way,” Thomas said.
Humphrey, who wore No. 26 at Alabama, has not officially said what his new digits will be.
“I respect what he has done and accolades in 29,” Humphrey tweeted. “Didn’t want to alter that for a number I’ve accomplished nothing in.”
Humphrey later made a nice gesture on social media, offering to give his new jersey to the first 10 fans who sent him a picture of themselves wearing his No. 29 jersey and correctly guessed his new number.
When looking at what other NFL players have had to pay for their desired digits, Thomas received a bargain. Here is a look at some past deals involving uniform numbers:
A BMW. When Deion Sanders joined the Dallas Cowboys, he made Alundis Brice an offer for No. 21 that he couldn’t refuse. A day after Sanders ran into Brice at a BMW dealership, a brand-new metallic blue 325i with all the trimmings was parked in the players’ lot. Brice thought someone had bought the car he wanted before noticing the keys were on his locker room stool with a note from Sanders. It read: “NOW GIVE ME MY DAMN JERSEY!”
A vacation and outdoor space. Jeff Feagles was a two-time Pro Bowl punter and a Hall of Fame deal-maker. He first gave up his No. 10 Giants jersey to Eli Manning in exchange for a one-week paid vacation in Florida. A year later, he traded his newly acquired No. 17 to Plaxico Burress for an outdoor kitchen at his Arizona home.
Money and steak. Cornerback Darrelle Revis paid Mark Barron $50,000 for No. 24, which was quite a payout considering Revis lasted one season with Tampa Bay. It cost Revis $3,125 to wear that number for each of his 16 games with the Buccaneers. Wide receiver Eric Decker had to shell out only half that cash to pry No. 87 away from Jeff Cumberland when he signed with the Jets. But Decker also had to throw in a steak dinner.
A day in court. Running back Clinton Portis offered Ifeanyi Ohalete $40,000 for his No. 26 upon arriving at the Redskins and paid him half up front. The deal was Ohalete would get the rest by Christmas, but he got cut near the end of the season. Portis refused to pay the rest to someone who wasn’t on the team, and that landed him in court and eventually led him to paying an $18,000 settlement.