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Earl Thomas returns to Seahawks: What happens now?

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas returned to practice Wednesday. (AP)

Considering his months-long holdout with the Seahawks, Earl Thomas’ return Wednesday was quite abrupt, with an announcement from the All-Pro safety in the morning and a return to practice just hours later.

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Speaking with reporters Wednesday afternoon, head coach Pete Carroll said the team has welcomed Thomas back with open arms.

“It’s really good to have him back,” Carroll said. “He’s been with us for so long, he’s just been part of the fabric of what we’ve been about. It’s an adjustment period as he jumps in with us now, we’ll figure out how that works and we’ll get through it.”

What happens now?

The Seahawks’ stance on extending Thomas this offseason was made clear when the team didn’t budge during his holdout. The question now is whether the team is still looking to trade him.

Carroll wouldn’t say whether a trade was in the Seahawks’ plans, but he did make clear his wish that Thomas remain with Seattle.

“He’s a Seahawk,” Carroll said when asked whether trading Thomas would be an option. “He’s a Seahawk. He’s always been and I want him to be one forever.”

It’s unclear whether an extension could be done in the future. Thomas indicated his disappointment in his Wednesday announcement, but Carroll sounded more optimistic about the relationship.

“(He’s) one of the best players that plays the game, and he’s been a marvelous part of our program for a long time,” Carroll said, when asked how Thomas’ return helps the team. “It’s why we never wavered in the thought that he wasn’t going to be with us and it was just a matter of time to try to make sense or do what we could do, and fortunately we’re back at it. We’d like him to be a Seahawk for the rest of his career, that’s how we’ve always thought about it. The rest of it we’ll take care of when the time is right.”

The more immediate impact of Thomas’ return will be on the roster. Because Thomas is on the Reserve/Did Not Report list, the team will need to make a roster move to add him to the 53-man squad. Carroll appeared to indicate a decision on that hadn’t yet been made. Seattle Times’ Seahawks reporter Bob Condotta said the team has, for now, been granted a roster exemption that allows Thomas to return to practice without necessitating a roster move.

Wagner doesn’t expect holdout to hurt locker room

Linebacker Bobby Wagner echoed Carroll’s sentiment about Thomas’ return, telling reporters he was excited to see his teammate back at Seahawks headquarters.

“It was pretty cool to see him walk in the meeting room,” Wagner said. “Get a guy like that back, I know he’s probably been going through a lot, so I feel it was important for us to just kind of embrace him and know that he was in our hearts when he wasn’t here and just welcome him back.”

Wagner added that, despite Thomas missing camp, he wasn’t expecting a fractured locker room following Thomas’ return.

“Football is football; business is business,” Wagner said. “That’s coach Carroll, that’s (general manager) John Schneider, that’s all them, that’s business at the end of the day. You can’t really hate a person for wanting to provide for his family, and that’s how I look at it. He’s been playing at a high level, he wanted more money, and that’s kind of on them. If it was me and I wanted more money for my family, I would go and try to get more money for my family. So coming back, we expect him to just be focused, come out and play games, and I don’t think we’re going to run into any problems.”

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