Seahawks safety Earl Thomas continues to hold out in 2018. But Seattle may be prepared to move on both on the field and financially.
The Seahawks ended training camp on Thursday as they prepare for the 2018 season. There were lots of news and notes but near the bottom of that was talk of Earl Thomas. Thomas, a possible future Hall of Famer, seems to be an afterthought. And that may be something he wasn’t ready for.
I am not saying that Seattle is better without Thomas playing free safety. They aren’t. Seattle, nor almost any other team, does not have a safety the quality of him. Thomas will make Seattle better. But does he make them a Super Bowl contender by his return? And could Seattle think that long-term it may be better to invest $14 million elsewhere than in a soon-to-be 30 year-old?
The answers to the above questions are “no” to the first and “yes” to the second. And that is an important distinction. The team didn’t sign Kam Chancellor to an extension when he held out and they won’t with Thomas.
Thomas is entering the last year of his current Seattle contract. He probably wants about $14 million a year in an extension. If Seattle were to franchise tag him next year if Thomas didn’t agree to any Seahawks negotiated terms beyond 2018, then Thomas would probably make about $11-12 million in 2019. Thomas might decide to hold out again. Seattle might choose to trade him. Or not even tag him.
Because the bit Thomas doesn’t seem to understand is that Seattle is willing to take a step back to get better quicker in the future. The Seahawks may not be as good in 2018 as they were in 2013 or 2014. But they are younger too. If Seattle has a plan for Thomas’s money, then that might mean getting younger players too.
Thomas underestimated how much the Seahawks valued him beyond 2018. Seattle does need Thomas to win this year. But team management, even with Thomas, probably doesn’t really think this team can win a Super Bowl this season. Or in the following year, probably.
But the NFL changes fast. And Thomas is about to be the wrong side of 30. Seattle wants to move on from contracts that constrict the team. And the Seahawks might be better off in four years without signing Thomas to an extension. Based on the end of training camp and not a lot of talk about Thomas, the team may have already moved on.