FS Earl Thomas made good on his threat Sunday to hold out for a contract extension. Since the market for expensive vets is quiet, the Seahawks desperately need to deal.
The Legion of Boom is over, but some of the malady lingers on.
FS Earl Thomas announced on his Twitter account Sunday morning that he will not attend the mandatory, three-day mini-camp starting Tuesday, resolving the biggest of off-season Seahawks speculations.
He’s a hold-out. CB Richard Sherman was a throw-away. SS Kam Chancellor’s status is officially unresolved, but he’s likely a turn-away.
Not only was the cumulative conclusion for the trio of stars decidedly an un-Hollywood finish, it is almost as bad as the G7 Summit meeting Friday, when seven heads of state emerged with faces suggesting severe intestinal disorders.
Thomas’s Seattle career is not over. He has this season left at $8.5 million, and wants a contract extension done before he sets foot on the lakeside greensward. But his future here has clouded up with the news, which contradicted a report in February that said his agents told the Seahawks front office that their client would not hold out.
Then again, this being Thomas, he could show up Tuesday, saying he changed his mind. Certainly, the Seahawks have gotten used to his mercurial nature. Pete Carroll thought Thursday Thomas would take part.
“Yeah, it’s mandatory. So we expect everybody to show up,” Carroll said after organized team activities, a voluntary program, ended. Thomas risks being fined up to $84,000 if he skips all three days. It’s up to the club to choose to fine him, but as percentage of $8.5 million, it’s a scratch.
I want to remain a Seahawk for the rest of my career but I also believe that based on my production over the last eight years that I’ve earned the right to have this taken care of as soon as possible. I want to have certainty in regards to the upcoming years of my career. I’m going to continue to work my craft and put in work so that I can add to the team and give us the best chance to win. I hope my teammates understand where I’m coming from I believe this is the right thing to do.
Chancellor thought a hold-out was the right thing to do in 2015, although his decision just ahead of training camp caught everyone, including teammates, by surprise. He had two years to go on his deal. The club insisted on sticking with policy by not re-negotiating until one year remained.
The club won, because Chancellor came back, tail tucked, with no improved deal. But the club also lost — the first two games, to be precise, before his return.
They did extend Chancellor’s deal before last season, which lasted nine games. At 29, they guaranteed him three years — including $6.8 million for 2018 and $5.2 million in 2019. So if Chancellor is cut, he’ll cost the Seahawks $12 million.
Former agent Joel Corry, now working for CBSSports.com, declared the deal the worst NFL contract extension for a team in 2017.
The development is important to give context to the Thomas standoff. The Seahawks want Thomas back and happy for all that he brings to Carroll’s prime directive of denial of the deep ball. It is well explained in this tweet by ESPN’s Mike Sando:
My best case for Thomas’ deserving raise would focus on SEA defensive performance with him on/off field past two seasons (see table). The team has to decide how long he can be such an impact player in the future. pic.twitter.com/Z15hs8CgOZ
— Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@SandoESPN) June 10, 2018
But Carroll and general manager John Schneider fear a repeat of the Chancellor travail. Thomas is the same age as was Chancellor when he was extended. Giving Thomas a third contract — and a more expensive one; Thomas wants to be the game’s highest-paid safety at more than $13 million annually — only to see him get injured or otherwise fall off, would make for a fiasco.
That potential outcome was the reason the Seahawks were open about fielding trade inquiries for Thomas before the draft. Rumors had the Seahawks seeking a first- and a third-round pick, but all NFL teams knew the Seahawks were desperate. A report after the draft said that the best offer made by the Dallas Cowboys, the likeliest destination, was a third-rounder.
The Seahawks said no then. What about now?
Post-draft, teams are excited about new players and have lost any urgency to trade for an expensive veteran they may only rent for a season. Any pick the Seahawks might acquire would be for 2019 and of no help in September. So until players start getting hurt in fall camp and the fake season, the market is merely a murmur.
That means the Seahawks have to negotiate. Six weeks remain until camp, so there’s time. But according to overthecap.com, the Seahawks have only $11 million in cap space, and have to consider extensions for LT Duane Brown and DE Frank Clark, as well as WR Tyler Lockett.
Depending on degree of urgency, a team can always make a deal happen. The Seahawks will have much more cap room in 2019, so perhaps Thomas can take less in 2018 for a bigger payday down the road.
The call in this drama is tough. But since the last best chance for trade value evaporated with the draft, the Seahawks need to sign Thomas, a six-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time All-Pro, to the big extension, then play the season and see what happens with the team and the market.
If they bust by midseason, he and his settled contract can be dealt for 2019 picks. If the Seahawks are better in October than anyone is predicting in June, then play on.
Losing the entire Legion of Boom at once is like a bad cliffhanger ending in a Marvel movie. If none of the superheroes remains for the rescue, nobody shows up to watch the sequel.