Why won’t Seahawks give Earl Thomas a new deal? Look at past extensions

Jun 11, 2018, 10:35 PM

How Kam Chancellor's extension worked out may be why Earl Thomas may not get one. (AP)...

How Kam Chancellor's extension worked out may be why Earl Thomas may not get one. (AP)


Earl Thomas is not wrong to want a new contract.

He plays a game where injury and age are a constant threat to future earnings. Not only that, but he plays for a team that has made a habit of extending the contracts of stars like Thomas who are about to enter the final year of their respective contracts.

Earl Thomas can hold out, but Seahawks can use the franchise tag

Except those contracts haven’t exactly panned out for Seattle. And before you decide what the Seahawks should be willing to pay Thomas in an extension, it’s worth pausing to take a look at what Seattle has gotten when it has signed veterans to a third multi-year contract in their respective careers.

The answer: Not nearly as much as the Seahawks hoped when you consider that of four significant extensions, only Cliff Avril’s turned out to be beneficial for the team while Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett were both gone by the time the additional years of the extension would have been necessary.

Here’s a case-by-case look that explains the background to the decision the Seahawks currently face with regard to Thomas’ future:

Cliff Avril

Dec. 19, 2014 – Avril signed a four-year, $28.5 million contract with as much as $16 million guaranteed.

• Age at time of extension: 28
Old deal: Avril was in the final month of a two-year, $15.1 million deal he signed in 2013, joining the Seahawks from Detroit.
• New deal: Avril received a $2 million signing bonus with $13.5 million in base salary over the first two years of the deal, which were effectively guaranteed. He made a base salary of $4.5 million in 2017.
• Outcome: This was a great deal for the Seahawks as Avril had 13 sacks in his first two seasons with the Seahawks, and 21.5 sacks under the terms of his new deal. Released earlier this offseason after suffering a neck injury early last season, Avril totaled 34.5 sacks in his four-plus seasons in Seattle, 10th-most in team history.
• Additional money paid out under the extension: About $20 million.
• Additional games: Thirty-six games during which Avril totaled 21.5 sacks and earned his first Pro Bowl selection.

Marshawn Lynch

March 6, 2015 – Marshawn Lynch signed two-year extension to his deal, which was set to expire after the 2015 season.

• Age at time of extension: 28
• Old deal: Lynch was to earn $7 million in 2015, the final year of a four-year contract signed in 2012.
• New deal: Lynch was paid a total of $12 million in 2015.
• Outcome: Lynch suffered injuries to his hamstring and his abdominal muscle, played in seven regular-season games and did not travel to Minnesota for the team’s wild-card playoff game after deciding he wasn’t ready to return from abdominal surgery. He retired after that season, but returned to the NFL with the Raiders in 2017.
• Additional money paid out by extension: $5 million.
• Additional games: None. Lynch did not play for Seattle beyond the term of the contract that was extended, retiring after 2015, which was always understood as a possibility by Seattle. Lynch returned to the NFL last season with Oakland, which acquired him from Seattle for a late-round draft pick.

Michael Bennett

Dec. 30, 2016 – Michael Bennett signed a three-year, $30.5 million extension for a contract scheduled to expire after the 2017 season.

• Age at time of extension: 31
• Old deal: Bennett was scheduled to earn $7.5 million in 2017, the final season of a four-year, $27.5 million contract that he complained about after his first season.
• New deal: Bennett was paid out $16 million in 2017 with an additional $4 million roster bonus due in 2018.
Outcome: Bennett played in all 16 games for Seattle, finishing with 8.5 sacks, second-most on the team. He was traded to Philadelphia in the offseason for a fifth-round pick and receiver Marcus Johnson.
• Additional money paid out by extension: $8.5 million.
• Additional games: None, though Seattle did receive a fifth-round pick and speedy receiver in a trade from Philadelphia.

Kam Chancellor

Aug. 1, 2017 – Signed a three-year, $36 million extension.

• Age at time of extension: 29
• Old deal: Chancellor was scheduled to make $6.8 million in 2017, the final season of a five-year extension he signed in 2013.
• New deal: He received a $10 million signing bonus last August, in addition to guaranteed salaries of $3 million in 2017 and $6.8 million for 2018.
• Outcome: Chancellor left Seattle’s ninth game of the season with a neck injury, and did not play again. He is scheduled to undergo more tests this month before knowing whether he’ll be able to play.
• Additional money: At least $13.8 million and as much as $18.2 million according to initial reports that stated Chancellor was guaranteed to earn $25 million of the $36 million in the contract.
• Additional games: Unclear.

What does Seahawks’ secondary look like without Thomas, Chancellor?

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Why won’t Seahawks give Earl Thomas a new deal? Look at past extensions