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Making a case for Seahawks extending Earl Thomas

Earl Thomas will be a free agent in 2019, but the Seahawks could trade him before then. (AP)

Fans expected more than a few roster changes after the Seahawks’ 9-7 season, but a potential trade of one of its best players probably wasn’t one of them. Still, it’s a sitution Seattle finds itself in after All Pro safety Earl Thomas said he wouldn’t feel comfortable playing without securing another contract.

Thomas, 28, has one year left on his current deal, but the Seahawks have previously extended veteran players with as much time remaining; safety Kam Chancellor, defensive end Michael Bennett, and running back Marshawn Lynch were all granted such offers. His recent injuries, high trade value, and age (Thomas will be 29 by the start of the 2018 regular season) have been used as reasons why the Seahawks would be better off trading him.

But Thomas has plenty of defenders in his corner – including former Pro Bowl safety and current ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark.

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Clark joined Brock Huard and Mike Salk on 710 ESPN Seattle Tuesday morning to explain why he believes the Seahawks would be better off extending Thomas.

Clark, who spent 13 years in the league said Thomas’ age shouldn’t be a big factor in a decision about an extension.

“For me as a player, my best years were 31, 31, and 32 years old,” Clark said. “When do you reach your prime? The age factor I think matters less at this position. If you’re Seattle, you’ve got to figure out which way you want to go, which direction is this team moving into.

“If you look at where they’ve invested their money, it’s in the core of that defense. I think that’s where you get some of the rushing game problems, some of the protection problems that we’ve seen on this team. I think Kam’s injuries have slowed him a bit, but if you watch Earl play, he was every bit as fast as he always was, he was every bit as agressive as he always was. I think he’s a player you need to keep, and so you do your best to work this deal out. And I think Earl is right; you have to protect yourself and your family first. I know many fans won’t like that, but that’s the nature of the NFL today.”

Clark also isn’t overly concerned with Thomas’ injury history – primarily, because of the type of injuries he’s sustained. Thomas had not missed a single game through six seasons before a broken leg landed him on the injured reserve in 2016. A hamstring injury kept him sidelined for two games in 2017, but he still managed to finish the season with 56 tackles and an interception for a touchdown.

“Soft tissue injuries don’t really concern me,” Clark said. “I’m a guy who tore his labrum in year seven and didn’t miss a game after that, and played for 13 years. I don’t necessarily know if you can actually tell what a guy’s future is going to be from certain injuries. Obviusly, if you have something major, those things continue to linger and become a part of who you are as a player. But I think Earl still has a few good years in him. Earl isn’t a small dude, he just ain’t very tall, and I think sometimes we see that as him being little. But Earl’s put together; he’s in shape, he’s a guy who trains every offseason to be prepared, and I think he will be, and I think Earl is going to be a very good player in this league for the next years to come.

“For me, the first priority is Russell Wilson. He plays in a way where he has carried your team offensively, so I think that’s your first step, protecting him and giving him weapons is a major key. I think from a character standpoint, you have to keep some of these defensive players. Bobby Wagner I think is huge to what this defense can accomplish. I think Earl Thomas is really big to what they can be. The thing I didn’t like coming out of Seattle was some of the talk that broke the brotherhood understanding we had of them; Earl talking about Bobby not being healthy enough to play, and Earl running to Jason Garrett and saying, ‘Come get me.’ I think some of those things need to be put away and addressed. But when you build this team, I think you start with Russell Wilson, and then defensively, you build it down the middle at defensive tackle, linebacker, and safety.”

Listen to Brock and Salk’s entire interview with Ryan Clark.