Seahawks S Earl Thomas played with Seattle from 2010 through 2018
Earl Thomas can bring up many conflicting emotions for 12s. He's had some issues since he last played in the NFL in 2019, and, of course, he didn't exactly leave the field as a Seattle Seahawk in the best of ways either. After a contract holdout, Thomas played in four games for the Seahawks in 2018 before injuring his knee and being carted off the field. He held up his middle finger to the Seattle sidelines while being carted off.
But the 14th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft was a choice of brilliance for new head coach Pete Carroll and new general manager John Schneider at the time. The team was trying to rebuild itself from what was a contender in the mid-2000s and had become a bad team by 2009. Schneider and Carroll nearly completely remade the roster, but they needed someone on the backend of the defense that could make sure what happened in front of them got better. Thomas was that guy.
While Thomas had an immediate impact with 5 interceptions in his rookie season, he didn't make an All-Pro team or earn a spot in the Pro Bowl. But 2010 would be the last year until 2016 that he didn't earn some accolades. Thomas was first-team All-Pro from 2012 through 2014 and made the Pro Bowl from 2011 through 2015 and again in 2017.
Thomas's speed allowed the rest of the defense to operate nearly independently. Players such as Chancellor and linebacker Bobby Wagner knew they could cheat a bit more in run support because they knew Thomas had their backs, literally. If the LOB had a thunder and lightning, Thomas would have been the lightning to Kam Chancellor's thunder, potentially forming the best safety duo in the history of the league.