Earl Thomas versus the Seahawks is more complicated than you think

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 29: Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks . (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 29: Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks . (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 08: Kam Chancellor #31 celebrates a broken pass play with Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

All that being said, I completely understand Earl Thomas. He explained his reasons for the holdout in his article for the Players’ Tribune. He makes it clear that he wants to stay with the Seahawks. As he says, he loves Seattle. That emphasis is all his. Ah, but you’re wondering if he loves Seattle, why is he holding out? What happened to Chancellor is a pretty big reason:

"Later on, Kam walked off the field and he said he had a funny feeling in his neck. Just a funny feeling — and, man, Kam is a warrior. A warrior. We’ve been through a lot together. So of course I thought he’d be fine. But then after the game, it’s crazy … he found out the injury was career-threatening. A few weeks ago, he announced his retirement."

And Thomas is right. As I’ve written before, he’s underpaid by the standards of the NFL. And please, stop comparing your paycheck to his. He’s helping generate a lot more revenue than you are. He’s certainly generating more than me! The real comparison is paychecks of guys like Thomas to the NFL owners. According to Forbes, the Seahawks revenue was $399 million in 2017. The team is valued at $2.4 billion. Paul Allen is a great owner, but there isn’t much chance his career could be over at any moment, unlike Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor, or for that matter, Earl Thomas. So Thomas has some very valid points as well.

As our site co-expert (make that the true expert) Lee Vowell wrote recently, Earl Thomas is under contract. By any normal standards, the standards under which you and I live, he should honor it. But the NFL is a different world. This is a world where owners like the Rams’ Stan Kroenke blackmail cities into building new stadiums, or else they just leave. St. Louis still owed $100 million on the Edward Jones Dome when the Rams bailed. And by St. Louis, I mean the taxpayers. Paul Allen is in no way like Kroenke, let me be very clear about that. The point remains, the NFL owners have a lot more in their wallet than the players. Thomas has a very short window to earn his money, unlike the virtually perpetual timeline for the league owners.

Related Story. Would the Seahawks be smart to trade Earl Thomas?. light

The thing is, I definitely see the Seahawks position too. They’re concerned about the decline in performance that every one of the top safeties in the past thirty years has shown. Remember, the cut-off AV was 10, quite a bit below the peak value of the players. They’re also worried about the injury risk that they’ve already seen happen to the other great safety that manned the Legion of Boom. If I were the Seahawks, I’d expect Thomas to honor his contract. But I also would have started negotiating with him long before there was any chance of a holdout. I wouldn’t have much money in the way of an injury guarantee, either. And that could ultimately be the sticking point between Thomas and Seattle, two sides of one very complicated issue.