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Moore: With trade demand, Earl Thomas fully transforms to object of scorn for Seahawks fans

If Jim Moore was Seahawks GM, he would trade Earl Thomas to Cleveland out of spite. (AP)

The speculation ends on Thursday. That’s when the Seahawks report for training camp and we’ll find out if Earl Thomas shows up or not.

You know the story surrounding the future Hall of Fame free safety – he has said he won’t play this year without a contract extension. The Seahawks, by their actions, have indicated they don’t want to give him one at the level of pay Thomas is seeking.

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Everyone understands that Thomas is the best or second-best safety in the league. But not everyone understands why he would hold out. At least I don’t. Thomas’ last contract made him one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL. He’s scheduled to make $8.5 million this year, and if I were him, I’d honor the final year of my contract and play as well as I could so I’d get a big free-agent deal from another team or force the Seahawks to think about franchise-tagging him.

The latter scenario of a franchise tag isn’t likely, not with Thomas turning 30 next year, assuming a decline in his play would not warrant an increase in pay. I know that NFL careers are short and players need to make the most of their limited opportunities, but teams get in trouble when they reward players for their past performance. Paying Thomas $13 million a year in the future makes little sense to me. If you’re playing the odds, there’s a chance that Thomas maintains his high standard of play for the next two to three years. There’s a better chance he won’t and might even suffer an injury that will take him off the field and slow him down when he returns.

This Thomas situation has been hashed and rehashed and triple-hashed to the point that I’m sick of it, and I’m guessing you are too. It’s funny how quickly things can change. Thomas, it appears to me, has gone from one of the most beloved Seahawks to an object of scorn. His trade “demand” via Instagram last week secured the transformation. From the texts we received at 710 ESPN Seattle, 12s have finally had enough already.

This all started with that stupid plea to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett last year to pursue him, and then it continued at the Pro Bowl with the first comments that he wouldn’t play this year without a new contract. And now the follow-up for bad measure on social media.

It’s a tough dilemma for Seahawks general manager John Schneider, whose team is in the middle of a rebuild of sorts even if he prefers to call it a “reset.” He doesn’t want to trade an All-Pro for a third- or fourth-round pick. I don’t blame him – that’s not anywhere close to equal value. But does he want a two- to three-month distraction of constant questions about Thomas’ status, not to mention social-media emojis that tell us how Earl himself is feeling?

If Thomas doesn’t play, Bradley McDougald will likely take over at free safety. Schneider also needs to factor in how big of a dropoff it is between Thomas and McDougald. It’s significant, but is it such a disparity that you’re willing to put up with the irritating Earl Thomas sideshow in training camp?

I think Schneider will handle everything in the best way possible. In the end, whenever that is, I have a feeling we’ll look at his decision and understand what he was thinking and why he traded Thomas or gave him an extension.

If this were up to me, I don’t think Thomas would like what I’d do. Schneider doesn’t let personal feelings interfere with business, but I would. The last thing I’d do is trade him to Dallas, just because I know that’s where Thomas wants to go. I’d be a jerk about it. Even if Dallas offered me a third-round choice, I’d send him to Philadelphia or Denver for a fourth-round choice. And if reporters asked me why I’d do that when I could have gotten a better pick from the Cowboys, I’d say I’m a spiteful person and I wasn’t about to give Thomas his way. The writers would probably slam me for that, but I wouldn’t care. I’d go home, have a cold one, sit out on the deck and snicker to myself if there was no one else to snicker with.

And I’d take it one step farther – I would do everything in my power to trade Thomas to Cleveland. If he thinks he has it so bad here, let’s see how he feels about things in Cleveland. I actually think the Browns are finally heading in the right direction, but by the time they get completely straightened out, Thomas will be too old to be a vital contributor. Some other good things about sending Thomas to Cleveland – whatever round the pick is, you’d probably be getting it at the start of the round rather than later in the round like you’d conceivably be doing with Dallas. It’s a small thing, but what the heck.

More importantly, you’d send a message that everyone would hear in the locker room. “Man, if I don’t honor my contract and if I make waves like Earl is doing, I might be sent to Cleveland too!”

I’m looking forward to the day when Schneider says enough is enough and ships Thomas to the Browns, and when that happens I’ll find some smiley and hands-waving-bye-bye emojis and post them on social media.

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