Moore: Any sympathy for Earl Thomas’ injury gone with his middle finger
Let me see if I have all of this straight – Earl Thomas ran into the Dallas locker room last year and asked coach Jason Garrett to acquire him. Then he threatened to hold out and did hold out. He returned just so he wouldn’t lose $500,000 a game. He said, however, that the disrespect had been noted. He did not feel appreciated because the Seahawks had not given him a contract extension.
Then he said after the Dallas game a week ago that he might not practice if he had a headache or another minor health issue after missing two practices for unexplained reasons the week before. Thomas wanted to protect himself against injury, fearing the loss of future earnings.
And then we saw him being carted off the field in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 20-17 win over Arizona with a broken leg. For a second, no matter where you stood with Thomas and his contract demands, you felt bad to see the Seahawks free safety leaving with a severe injury. But then he raised his middle finger, and I honestly thought he was flipping off a fan who was yelling at him.
Moments later, to think that he actually could have been flipping off his own team and organization, any feelings of sadness for Earl Thomas disappeared just like that.
If the middle finger was his way of expressing the frustration from not getting a contract extension, doesn’t he get that the injury was one of the biggest reasons why the Seahawks didn’t want to give him one? If they had given him a three-year extension with $20 million guaranteed in August, that would have been good for Thomas but bad for business.
I felt like we reached “enough already” during his holdout and thought he should have been traded then, even if it was for less-than-perceived equal value. The headache nonsense took it past enough already. Now this, a middle finger to the team that has paid him more than $50 million and will pay him another $6-plus million this year after the $2 million they’ve already paid him for the 2018 season.
That part of it galls me – Thomas signed his current contract three years ago. He knew then that he would be making $8.5 million in 2018 unless he didn’t read the fine print. At the time, the Seahawks were making him one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL. Call me old school, but when you sign a contract, you honor it. Plus it’s not like the Seahawks low-balled him at all.
In the end – and make no mistake, this is the end – he might think he was only giving the middle finger to general manager John Schneider, but he was also flipping off his teammates and the 12s. His teammates love him and understand that he’s looking out for himself. But in so doing, to my way of thinking, Thomas is not a good teammate. My definition of a good teammate is one who shows up when he’s under contract and plays.
And, yes, I think he basically flipped off Seahawks fans too. Do you really think he cares about you? Earl cares more about Earl than anyone else. His loyalty lies with the team that will pay him what he thinks he deserves. Thomas is going to end up being disappointed because the free-agent salary market has dropped dramatically, and coming off a broken leg and turning 30 won’t help his case either.
I’ll tell you what I’d do if I were Schneider. Last year no one thought Richard Sherman would be released, and he was. This year no one thinks Thomas should be released, but I hope he is. And I’ll be honest, I don’t know how it works with injuries – you probably can’t release a player when he’s injured – but as soon as he passes a physical, I’d dump him.
I’d take the heat from those who said I was making a bad business decision. Worst case, if Thomas leaves in free agency at the end of the year, you’d get a third-round compensatory pick. I’d say that that pick isn’t worth a year-long circus.
If I’m Schneider, I’m listening to my morals and scruples and common sense. You can put up with a lot of crap from employees who are extremely talented and offer so much value to your business. But you put that aside when a middle finger shows up in your face.
Besides, to my eyes, he isn’t as good as he used to be. Let’s face it, Thomas has been flat-out fortunate two weeks in a row – he was burned for a touchdown by Ezekiel Elliott on a wheel route and lucked out because the Cowboys running back stepped out of bounds before receiving the pass. Against Arizona, J.J. Nelson dropped a long pass that would have been a touchdown after beating Thomas badly.
I didn’t want to see Thomas break his leg. But I have wanted Tedric Thompson to play free safety this year, and now he’ll get the chance. Thompson won’t be as good as Thomas, we all know that, but the Seahawks aren’t Super Bowl contenders this year even with Thomas. Why not find out if Thompson can be your free safety of the future during a transitional year? Get the growing pains out of the way now and reap the benefits in 2019 and beyond when Thomas isn’t going to be here next year anyway.
But forget about all of that stuff. A player can’t flip you off and get away with it, particularly one who has been guilty of insubordination for months on end. If it’s even remotely possible, I’d cut Thomas now.