Is there any conceivable scenario in which Earl Thomas remains a Seahawk?
The biggest contract questions so far in the Seahawks’ 2019 offseason have centered around soon-to-be free agent defensive end Frank Clark, as well as quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner, both of whom are franchise players heading into a contract year.
Meanwhile, any questions about whether or not safety Earl Thomas will remain in Seattle have fallen by the wayside, which is both notable and unfortunate for a player who has spent the entirety of his nine-year career with the same organization.
Granted, there are several reasons critics doubt a return. For one, Thomas and Seattle were at a months’ long standstill over a contract that ended without a new deal. Worse still was its bitter ending: who could forget the Week 4 scene of Thomas giving the middle finger toward the Seahawks’ sideline while being carted off the field with a fractured leg – his own worst-case scenario, and the very reason he held out in the first place. Adding to that doubt is Thomas’ value in free agency. Yes, he’ll be 30-years-old at the start of the season, but he’s still a three-time All Pro and six-time Pro Bowler who led the team with three interceptions in four weeks.
Despite all of that, it’s worth asking: is there any conceivable scenario in which Earl Thomas would stay with Seattle?
Now on to the debate: Is there any way Earl Thomas stays?
710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore debated the topic and offered their own takes:
Dave Wyman: “No way. No way do they sign him back. I just think he’s one of those guys that needed to go. He is a great player, and I wish him the best. I wish him a speedy recovery to his broken leg, and I hope he goes and just balls out anywhere he goes. But they’ve got too good of a positive feeling and thing going on (now). And it’s not between Earl and his teammates, because his teammates love him. And that’s really the case (with a lot of these departed Seahawks), like Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett. Bobby Wagner and Richard Sherman are great friends… but I don’t want (Thomas) signed back here. Not because he’s not a good player, but just because that was weird… they don’t need that.”
Jim Moore: “I’ll play devil’s advocate. I agree with (Dave) to a point. When Earl goes somewhere else, I don’t care if he plays well or not. Because the way that he acted here, I’m not going to be a big fan of Earl Thomas. But, you say he gets along with him teammates, and some time has passed since the middle finger thing. You can make a case that if he were to sign with Seattle — I mean, the market’s going to be soft for him when he goes out there, he’s not going to get the offers that he thinks he’s going to get — maybe, just maybe, whatever he signs with in Seattle, if he did do that, then he would be happy with whatever he signed for. And so you would have a different Earl Thomas. You’d have all his teammates welcoming him back and you’d have a guy in the back end of your defense. I mean, we’re looking for improvement in the defense and certainly Earl Thomas would be that guy.”
Danny O’Neil: “It’s logical. There’s a logic to it… but I think there’s a .00001% chance that happens. And it would be if no other team in the NFL is interested in him and his only shot to play NFL football is to play for the Seattle Seahawks, and they’re interested in bringing him back, then I think he might consider it. I think every sign is that Seattle was not willing to talk to him about what his price was going to be, that they didn’t even get to the point where they were exchanging offers because they knew how big it was, and that if the market comes down to where Seattle’s price would’ve been, that by that point he’s going to be so bitter. I don’t think there’s any way Earl would ever choose to come back. If he’s not going to get a huge raise from another team, and he’s going to play for less than he played this year, he’s going to play for somewhere else. And that’s not unique. There’s a lot of times that guys (feel that way)… it’s easier to take a lesser deal with another team than it is to get a pay cut with the team you were playing with before.
“I’ve seen that with veterans, in the NBA it would happen all the time. ‘Look, you’re not going to give me a raise? Well I’m sure not going to sign with you, even it means that I’m going to take a pay cut by signing with someone else. You’re not going to get me for a discount. You’re not getting me for less than you paid me last year.'”
Check 710Sports.com on Wednesdays this Seahawks offseason as Stacy Rost looks at one of the 10 biggest questions facing Seattle in 2019.