Earl Thomas is reporting to the Seattle Seahawks today.
Finally, after a holdout that lasted the entire pre-season, Earl Thomas is reporting in Seattle. While the 29 year-old on the final year of his contract may not have gotten the extension he wanted, he will likely be ready to suit up Sunday in Denver. The news broke after Seattle reportedly rejected a trade from Dallas that would have sent Thomas to the Cowboys for a second-round pick.
Obviously, the impact a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro has on a team is immeasurable. In this scenario, it’s that much bigger. Had Thomas not reported to practice, second-year safety from Colorado, Tedric Thompson, would start at the free safety position on Sunday. Thompson had shown flashes in the pre-season, but certainly did not show the sideline-to-sideline speed and play-making ability Thomas is known for.
The speed and play recognition of Thomas has decided entire games in the past. Seattle is marginally better in terms of pass defense when number 29 is on the field. Seattle normally switches between cover three zone and man coverage, but normally is in the cover three on passing downs. This is when Thomas is at his best.
Both cornerbacks have their respective deep-thirds of the field to cover, while Earl plays up top and covers the middle-deep third. However, Earl is not limited to just his deep third. When he recognizes a ball is going to be thrown, wherever it is down the field, Thomas is going to get it. His closing speed in terms of making a play on a ball is parallel to none. With Byron Maxwell on IR, the right cornerback position isn’t necessarily the strongest position on the field. Former 49er Dontae Johnson is expected to start there, with rookie cornerback (converted safety) Tre Flowers competing for the spot. Johnson and/or Flowers will need help at that position, and that is exactly what Thomas can provide.
Also, Earl is superb in run support from his free safety position.
Thompson will not make plays like that. Nothing against Thompson; Thomas is just that special of a player.
It’s very likely this will be Earl Thomas’s last year as a Seahawk, as Seattle has yet to offer him an extension. It would actually be out of character for general manager John Schneider to offer up a third contract, something he does not often do. The rare times he did offer third contracts, he ended up overpaying players whose play declined mightily.
My take on this is that I’m happy Earl is honoring the final year of his contract, while Tedric Thompson can redshirt his second-year season and learn from the best. Deep down, I knew Earl would be back soon enough. He loves football too much to sit out meaningful games. Will the Seahawks miss Thomas next year? Heck, yes. But is the ninth-year safety who will be 30 later this season worth a lucrative contract extension at a time where Seattle seems to be overturning the roster to build for the future? The short answer is no.