Brock Huard: What Earl Thomas’ departure says about Seahawks
The inevitable has finally become a reality: Earl Thomas’ Seahawks tenure is over.
Thomas, the 29-year-old All-Pro free safety who solidified the Seahawks’ defense for the past nine seasons, reportedly agreed with the Baltimore Ravens on a four-year, $55 million deal on Wednesday morning, pulling the curtain on Seattle’s famed Legion of Boom secondary.
“Earl was the last of this Legion of Boom to go,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard said shortly after the news of Thomas’ deal with Baltimore broke. “We all know the pain last year with Richard Sherman (being released and going to San Francisco), Kam Chancellor and his spinal cord injury ending his career. Earl was the last one. That said, we will one day welcome Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor into the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor, there’s no question in my mind.
“They were the Legion of Boom. They were the best defense going for half a decade and really one of the best this century in the NFL.”
So why was Thomas leaving as a free agent pretty much a foregone conclusion this offseason?
“They are a grow-and-develop program,” Huard said of the Seahawks. “(In recent years, Seattle drafted) Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson – guys that got their feet wet a year ago when Earl Thomas got hurt. More will be depended and relied upon them.”
Furthermore, the price tag was just going to be too hefty for the Seahawks to commit to Thomas on the third contract of his pro career.
“Over $30 million guaranteed, that’s a deal that the Seahawks frankly were never going to do,” Huard said. “They didn’t do it a year ago when Earl wanted to be the highest-paid safety (in the NFL). They could not do that, it’s why they drafted his replacements over the last two years.”
The Seahawks also have a history of finding defensive backs that they can mold into strong players in their system.
“These Seahawks are a developmental program. That’s what they were (when) they developed the Legion of Boom. Those guys are all gone, Earl the last vestige of it. Now it’s getting younger, starting over.”
That’s not to say Seattle won’t look for bargains with veterans that play in the secondary, even ones that have also been All-Pros.
“When the Seahawks typically operate in free agency is in the weeks ahead when others get cut,” Huard said. “Keep an eye on Eric Berry, the safety from the Chiefs that’s going to get cut. Keep an eye on other veterans around the league that get released in the days and weeks ahead.”