BY Art Thiel 05:36PM 06/10/2018

Thiel: Boom keeps busting as Thomas holds out

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.

Earl Thomas in happier times. / Wiki Commons

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.

Thomas wrote:

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:

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.

 


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YourThoughts

  • Ron

    According to Brock Huard, Richard Sherman planted this bug in Earl’s ear.

  • jafabian

    You’d think Earl would have learned from Kam’s holdout and Sherman being cut you never bite the hand that feeds you. The club knows that Earl is at the point in his career where he might start to decline. I wouldn’t say he’s the best in the game right now, more like one of. If he isn’t careful he’ll find himself in Chicago.

    • art thiel

      Most athletes don’t believe they’re in decline until it’s been long obvious to others. It’s how most competitive people are wired. I haven’t seen him decline yet.

      • jafabian

        IMO, if he was truly the best a trade would have been worked out when he was being shopped around the league. Certainly more than the third round pick that was offered. Age comes into play. I predict he’ll get a three year extension with a hefty signing bonus and then be cut in two seasons.

  • Husky73

    In the words of the Dixie Chicks, “Goodbye Earl.” Time to move on. He’s been a superior player, but, he wants to be a Cowboy. Make the best deal possible…..with the Browns.

    • art thiel

      Since the Seahawks have little leverage with other teams, they can’t be choosy on his destination.

      • Husky73

        Hindsight is…well, you know…but, they HAD leverage with the draft. He pretty much told them last season that he wanted out for Dallas. That ship sailed, and now a holdout. I agree that, at this point, it is time for patience, and see what the next 40 days bring.

  • ll9956

    Given that the Hawks frequently craft extensions during the year prior to the expiration of their core players’ contracts, it seems not unreasonable for Thomas to want an extension to be nailed down before the 2018 season begins. However, whether it’s reasonable to want it before training camp begins, is open to question. Seems like open communication between ET and PC/JS would be called for post-haste.

    • art thiel

      Missing a mini-camp for a vet like Thomas is not a big deal. The Seahawks need to see what talent needs they have before allocating their remaining money under the cap. Patience rather than urgency may be in order.

  • Bruce McDermott

    Moneyy is very important to Earl, as it is to most players. He won’t sit out a season–he woold lose big money he would never get back. Nor will he play poorly when he does play, because he is too proud, and very aware of what that might do to his market value thereafter. It would be a defensible position on the Hawks’ part to put aside this talk of “desperation,” which is a bit hysterical, and simply wait Earl out, telling him that this behavior won’t get him either a trade or a top of the market long-term deal, and further that they reserve the right to tag him for the following year. The Hawks “went for it” last year. They are not in the same frame of mind this year.

    • art thiel

      The decision to go for it, then miss, is a big part of the problem, compounded by the injuries. As it stands, the 2018 defense is not credible without Thomas, regardless of what is said publicly. The mini-camp absence is not a big deal, but by mid-August, things change.

      • Bruce McDermott

        What may not also be “credible” over the longer term is giving him the long-term contract he wants. That is a legitimate question.

  • Topcatone

    He is UNDER contract. Sure, work with the team on an extension on the side, but in the meantime, show up and get ready for the season. Chancellor ruined that season. If you don’t show up, fine and him let him sit out the season Players, STOP signing contracts that you won’t honor. Would you accept it if the team decided you weren’t worth the current contract, so they cut the payments?

    • art thiel

      That’s a nice sentiment, but these guys have just a few years to make 95 percent of the money they’ll likely make for the rest of their lives. Not saying you have to like what Thomas is doing, but it’s been a part of the sports business for a very long time, back to Babe Ruth.

  • tor5

    It’s hard as a fan to understand a lack of irrational loyalty. But this is the tough business side to it all and I can’t really blame either side for trying to leverage their power. Maybe there’s a way out if they can avoid all-or-nothing tweets or making it all about egos. I hope Frank or Maxwell aren’t contemplating any foolishness. They’ll show on Tuesday, right?

    • art thiel

      There’s no escaping ego at the top of this business.

      I think Clark and Maxwell will be there, but that’s just logic talking,

  • Alan Harrison

    A few ways to go here, all of which require patience on the Seahawks’ part and on Earl’s part. Other than the obvious way (Hawks sign Earl, which isn’t the best idea at Earl’s price)… One way: Hawks don’t sign Earl and make him play the contract he has because they’ll just franchise him in 2019 anyway (and they let him know that). Second way: Hawks don’t sign Earl because they’ll just go ahead and take the 3rd round pick from some team that loses its starting safety to IR. Third way: Hawks don’t sign Earl and don’t franchise him in 2019 with the thought they’ll get the compensatory pick (which doesn’t always happen). Fourth way: sign Eric Reid now and invite Earl to beat him out in camp (a little dramatic, I’ll be the first to admit). In a negotiation, you always have to look at the BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). Cold, I know, but true.

    • art thiel

      Good analysis, Alan. Another factor we don’t really know yet is the ability of Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill to step up this season.

      I don’t think we’ll see a franchise tag on a 31-year-old safety.

      • Alan Harrison

        If he gets 25 interceptions, we might. But it’s more about the negotiation and not the projected reality.

  • Mícheál Mac Cionnaith

    I’m not claiming he’s as good (before anybody gets hot under the collar), but let’s not forget how the Seahawks were able to navigate that Super Bowl season: It was having a lot of very good, UNDERpriced talent — to be able to afford a few high-priced game changers. I would like to see what Tedric Thompson can do. I think Pete will make ETIII compete with Tedric and let the chips fall where they may. ETIII was thrown into the fire when he was very green and unproven at the pro level. In a perfect world, we’d all like to see the Seahawks who have performed really well get their big payday. But … after you do that for 5-6 players, the rest of the 53-man roster (cut down deadline to 53 is 1 Sept., 2018) has to be among rookies, scrubs, or the extremely rare player who will take less for the benefit of the team. Another way of putting what I’m saying is that the Seahawks did their best when they had their youngest, least-expensive team.

    • art thiel

      That’s often been the case for NFL success after the 1994 advent of free agency. The single biggest asset for the Seahawks’ SB runs was Wilson’s instant maturity for a third-round draftee’s price. The biggest vulnerability since was an inability to find successors to the core group.

      • eYeDEF

        Have any guesses why they’ve been so terrible comparatively from 2013 onwards? The contrast is just so stark it makes me think it has to be more than just getting crazy lucky from 2010-12 before falling off a cliff. Was it the leg up Carroll had from college scouting from his USC days that provided all the insight from those first 3 drafts?

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    If he doesn’t show , they’d most likely move McDougald to free safety and try Delano Hill at Kam’s strong safety position . McDougald is solid but he’s no ET , and who knows what we have in Hill , but you’d know pretty quickly after a couple of pre-season games .

    As far as Earl goes , his problem is his age and wanting to be highest paid , which won’t help his cause with any other teams interested . I’d like $100 for that old Credence album of mine too , but does anyone still own a turntable besides me ?

    • Matt Kite

      Just a side note: vinyl is on its way to overtaking CDs in the market. It has made a huge comeback, not only with the young hipsters but with us old farts too. So hold on to that Credence album! ;)

      • Husky73

        And buy the new Beach Boys album.