Earl Thomas cast some doubts about his future with the Seahawks Friday.
Meeting with reporters ahead of the Pro Bowl, Thomas expressed what everyone had been quietly thinking: he wants a raise. Thomas always answers questions in a pointblank fashion. Whatever is on his mind at the moment, he will say.
And getting more money has been on his mind for some time.
“As far as my future in Seattle, I think if they want me, you know, money talks,’’ Thomas told ESPN. “We’ll get something accomplished. Other than that, I’m just taking it one day at a time.’’
Thomas makes $10 million a year and is entering the final year of his contract. Eric Berry, who was drafted the same year as Thomas, is the highest paid safety at $13 million a year. To satisfy Thomas, the Seahawks might have to bump his contract into the $14 million-per-year range.
The strongest statement Thomas made, though, was saying that he wants to finish his career in Seattle, but he doesn’t see himself going out there unsigned.
In other words, Thomas might hold out if the Seahawks don’t extend him. Add Friday’s comments to the incident in Dallas when he chased down Cowboys head coach Jason Garret and said, “If you’all have the chance, come get me,’’ and his position puts the Seahawks front office in a tough spot.
Pete Carroll knows how important Thomas is to his defense. He plays the deep middle and gives the cornerbacks the spacing to do their jobs in man coverage; he covers more ground quickly than just about any other safety in football. Put simply, Earl Thomas is having a Hall of Fame-caliber career.
But, with change in the wind for the Seahawks, Thomas could be positioning himself to be in his final days with the team. The Seahawks seem poised to make a strong effort to revamp the defensive roster and get younger, and could see a 2018 season without Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor.
Despite his importance to the team, Thomas is the team’s most tradable commodity. It might be hard to get a first-and a fourth-round pick for him, but he surely can command a first or _ as a worst case scenario _ a second if he is traded to a team that doesn’t immediately ink him to a long-term deal.
With no picks in the second and third rounds of the draft, general manager John Schneider has to strongly consider trading down from the 18th pick in the first round to fill some of the voids in the second day of the draft.
By making his statements Friday, Thomas can’t complain if the Seahawks put his name on the trade market. The Seahawks shopped Richard Sherman during the offseason last year. If Thomas is traded and Sheldon Richardson isn’t re-signed or franchised, the Seahawks defense will be undergoing one of the biggest renovations in the NFL this year.
Seeing Earl Thomas’ statements give more feeling that the defense won’t be the same.