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Lombardi: Earl Thomas is the new prototype for an NFL safety

Seahawks' safety Earl Thomas forced two turnovers in a Seahawks' win over the Rams. (AP)

One of the Seahawks’ biggest offseason decisions will be whether or not to extend six-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas.

During an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore, NFL analyst Michael Lombardi added some additional weight to the argument: Thomas is not only one of the best players on Seattle’s roster, but he’s also restructuring the mold for a prototypical NFL safety. And if Seattle decides to trade Thomas this offseason, or part ways with him when he becomes a free agent in 2019, finding a replacement who possesses the same skill set will be no easy feat.

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“I think Earl Thomas is the prototype safety now in football,” Lombardi said. “Earl is the modern day safety. It’s about range, it’s about athleticism, and it’s about coverage. I think the days of Ronnie Lott and the Kenny Easley have left us. I think player safety, the concern about the hits, all those areas make you worried about how much of an impact a hard hitting safety can have. What you need is range safeties, you need coverage safeties, and I think you need guys like Malcolm Jenkins, who at one time were corners (but) who have gone inside. And that’s why Thomas is so effective. He’s got range (and) he’s got the ability to make plays on the ball.”

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Lombardi doesn’t necessarily believe Seattle needs to lock its secondary down to be successful. In fact, he proposed a re-investment in the defensive front seven.

“I think what the Seahawks really need to do is get back to their core beliefs. I think the reason they’ve been such a successful franchise since Pete’s got up there and John Schneider is they have a philosophy, they have a belief in terms of player procurement. And it’s all centered around what Pete learned when he was at the Minnesota Vikings and the defense … and I think there needs to be kind of an adjustment based on that. I think they need to put their resources, much like Philadelphia, you can’t really go too far away from their defensive line without truly understanding that their money is where the defensive line is. And that’s the way Seattle was.

“I know Richard Sherman is a wonderful player, a great player, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, but the success of the Seahawks defensively has always been about their defensive front. Their coverages have predicated on that front. And that’s really where they need to turn their attention. They need to get a the defensive line that can dominate and control the game, and that’ll help them take the first step toward repairing their franchise.”

Lombardi also talked about the additions of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and O-line coach Mike Solari, and the development of quarterback Russell Wilson. Listen to his entire interview with Danny, Dave and Moore here.