INDIANAPOLIS The Seahawks have talked to Earl Thomas’ representatives about a new contract, continuing the first steps to avoiding any idea of the holdout the three-time All-Pro free safety has hinted is possible this fall.
General manager John Schneider said Friday at the NFL combine he’s met with Thomas’ agents while he’s been here in Indiana since Monday night.
“I've talked to his representatives. Yeah, I mean, that's all I can say,” Schneider said. “Earl is under contract. I've talked to his representatives in the meetings we've had down here. We are meeting with all our guys here, as well as other teams, you know. Trying to figure out where everybody is. We have a huge map, and we're just trying to put it all together."
Schneider has set precedents since taking the job in January 2010 of re-signing core starters in the final years of their existing contracts and before those deals run out. The Seahawks did that with Thomas in April 2014, entering the final year of his first NFL contract, when they gave him a four-year, $40 million deal. That contract expires this year.
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Schneider said those precedents do not apply in this case with Thomas.
"Well, it's a little different. This would be his third (contract),” Schneider said.
“It's a little different situation than when you have a guy coming off his rookie deal and then you are just going on a second contract.”
That, and the Seahawks’ salary-cap constraints now compared to then, raise the possibility he plays through this contract year--and the disgruntlement he’d surely have about that--if the two sides can’t find an agreement before the season begins in September.
Thomas said in an ESPN interview at the Pro Bowl in January “I definitely don’t see myself going out there unsigned” to play in 2018 – that is, while still under his current Seattle deal.
“I want to finish my career there,” Thomas told ESPN after Jan. 26 after a Pro Bowl practice in Orlando, Florida.
“I definitely don’t see myself going out there not signed. But I’m going to continue to work my butt off and enjoy this process at the Pro Bowl.
“As far as my future in Seattle, I think if they want me, you know, money talks. We’ll get something accomplished. Other than that, I’m just taking it one day at a time.”
Thomas has said “money talks” before, including after he walked to the Cowboys’ locker room on his way off the field from Seattle’s win in Arlington, Texas, on Christmas Eve and asked Dallas coach Jason Garrett to “come get me.” Thomas explained minutes later that day he meant after the Seahawks were done “kicking me to the curb” in the next year.
The Seahawks would save $8.5 million against this year’s salary cap is they released or traded Thomas before the season begins in September. But who would replace him? Seattle drafted Tedric Thompson last year to potentially play free safety, but Thompson barely played on defense, appearing in just two games at safety while doing far more on special teams. Schneider said Friday it’s time for Thompson and fellow second-year defensive backs Delano Hill and Mike Tyson to step up and compete to potentially replace Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman--maybe sooner than later.
Thomas, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, turns 29 in May. He has been talking about wanting an extension from the Seahawks since August--on the day Schneider and Seattle gave safety partner Chancellor at contract extension with $25 million guaranteed at age...29.
“I was watching very closely,” Thomas said Aug. 1 of Chancellor’s negotiations with the Seahawks. “You want to see, because I feel we are all right around the same age. You know, they brought a lot of new guys in.
“If the writing is on the wall, you know, I want to be able to see it. Because I know I’ll be next. ... And when that time comes, it comes.”
It’s arrived--at least for Thomas.
The last time a Seahawk held out, it was Chancellor. He missed all of training camp and the first two games of the 2015 season. And his holdout was fruitless. Two years still remained on his contract at the time, and the Seahawks gave him nothing until two years later.
The Seahawks have so many other issues to take care of right now besides extending Thomas--including incorporating a new offensive coordinator, a new defensive coordinator, two other new top assistants and what is expected to be new offensive linemen and running backs in coach Pete Carroll’s vow to return to the run game. Plus, the team is pressed hard against the salary cap even before free agency begins March 14, with about $7 million in working space after allocating to their eight picks in April’s draft.
Amid all that, Thomas obviously wants to make sure his concerns don’t get lost.
What else does Thomas want? Well, he sure noticed last year when Kansas City re-signed safety Eric Berry, who was in the same draft class as Thomas, to a extension with $40 million guaranteed.
“There ain’t never,” Thomas said in August, “enough of that.”