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O’Neil: Earl Thomas’ demands to Seahawks aren’t getting him closer to what he wants

Earl Thomas wrote a Players' Tribune article detailing his holdout from the Seahawks. (AP)

“He’s in a whole other place right now. He’s handling his situation, [rather than] helping us. I try not to deal with that energy.”

Those words aren’t about Earl Thomas.

Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 2, FS Earl Thomas

Those words were said by Earl Thomas. Three years ago. While teammate Kam Chancellor was trying to get a new contract from the Seahawks in a holdout that turned out just as futile as Thomas’ probably will be.

Thomas is being selfish, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, NFL players should be every bit as selfish and self-interested as the teams they work for. But as much as I can understand Thomas’ desire for a new contract, I have no clue why he thinks his current approach of being increasingly demanding on the internet is going to get him closer to what he wants.

I think it’s more likely to have an opposite result. Picketing would be a more successful strategy for Earl Thomas.


If he were wearing a sandwich board that said something like “Safety First!” as he walked back and forth in front of the team’s headquarters, it would at least provide a painful reminder of what the Seahawks are missing.

It would also potentially engender sympathy. As opposed to Thomas’ approach of posting workout pictures on Instagram and then spelling out the reasons behind his holdout on Thursday via The Players Tribune on a story headlined, “Here’s what is actually going on.” Actually, the headline struck me as funny because I don’t think there has been any mystery about what is going on.

Thomas is entering the final year of his contract, which calls for him to make $8.5 million. He would like a new contract, and presumably a raise. This is an eminently reasonable desire especially when you consider how Seattle signed extensions with veterans like Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett and most recently Kam Chancellor.

Thomas has asked for an extension. Repeatedly. After the victory in Dallas on Christmas Eve when he told the Cowboys coach to come get him if there was a chance. He did it again at the Pro Bowl. And in June when he stated he would not attend the mandatory minicamp in June. And now on The Players Tribune.

Speaking from a strictly strategic perspective, Thomas might need to try a different approach.

It’s not that Thomas is wrong to want a contract extension. He is mistaken, however, if he thinks this approach is getting him closer to the new deal he wants whether that’s here in Seattle or elsewhere. The louder he gets, the less likely Seattle is to trade him for less than what it deems adequate value if only because a team can’t afford to let its employees think it will be swayed by repeated public demands.

And as understandable as Thomas’ desire for a more long-term security might be, he’s never spelled out exactly how much money he is asking for, which is actually the most significant factor in any contract.

All we know is that he wants a new deal, he’s going to keep asking for that deal, and all those requests for that new deal aren’t going to get him any closer to actually being offered that new deal by the Seahawks or anyone else.

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