So much for that energy and “newness” Pete Carroll said he’s been seeing from his Seattle Seahawks.
Unless the coach wants to count Earl Thomas’ recent statement in all that is “new” for Seattle this tumultuous offseason.
On Sunday, the six-time Pro Bowl safety announced via social media that he would not report for the mandatory minicamp that begins Tuesday in Renton, nor for “any team activities until my contract situation is resolved.”
His statement raised speculation that a possible trade is back in play.
But it’s going to take more than a third-round draft choice to land Thomas. That’s what Dallas offered prior to the NFL draft in late April. Seattle can keep Thomas through his contract — which ends after the 2018 season — then let him leave next spring in free agency and get a third-round pick as compensation.
So, any deal presumably would have to include not only a draft pick, but also a starting player, most fittingly a defensive back or pass rusher. That’s a steep price for a team that also would need to meet Thomas’ numbers on a contract extension beyond this season.
Thomas is entering the final year of the four-year, $40 million extension he signed in 2014, one that at the time made him the league’s highest-paid safety.
Thomas wants to stay at the top of the NFL’s pay scale at his position, but that type of investment comes with a risk. Thomas turns 30 next offseason. The Seahawks just saw what can happen when you guarantee a chunk of money to a player that age: strong safety Kam Chancellor finally got his extension last August for which he’d futilely held out two years earlier — then suffered a neck injury three months later that may end his career — with the Seahawks still owing him millions.
At the time Thomas turns 30 next spring, the Seahawks will be tackling a $30-million-plus-per-year issue of extending franchise quarterback Russell Wilson’s contract beyond 2019.
And, oh, yeah, 27-year-old, All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner’s four-year, $43 million extension he signed in 2015 also ends after the 2019 season.
It’s been clear since Seattle waived Richard Sherman and traded Michael Bennett in March, and with Cliff Avril retiring and Chancellor perhaps about to join him with his own neck injury, that this franchise’s two pillars into the 2020s are Wilson on offense and Wagner on defense.
How many dollars and years does that leave for Thomas?
Likely not as many as for Wilson and Wagner. And more likely not as many as Thomas wants.
All this makes it seem likely the Seahawks won’t budge and Thomas stays without a new contract into the 2018 season that begins Sept. 9 at Denver. Eventually, the leverage in these situations swings to the team. It always does. Ask Chancellor.
As of right now, Thomas has no income scheduled for beyond this year. That’s life in the non-guaranteed NFL.
Holding out could cost Thomas $84,435 this week. That’s the maximum the Seahawks could (but don’t have to) fine him for missing the three days of minicamp, per the league’s collective bargaining agreement. The next team event is reporting day for training camp on July 25. If Thomas continues to stay away beyond that day, the Seahawks could per Article 42 of the CBA fine him $40,000 per training-camp day missed.
If Thomas doesn’t have a new contract, isn’t traded and still hasn’t reported by the first preseason game Aug. 9, that could push the fine meter to upward of $684,000. Then Thomas could be subject to a fine of one week’s regular-season salary per preseason game missed, per the CBA. That quickly would start to eat into Thomas’ $8.5 million in base pay for this year.
If Thomas continues his holdout into the regular season, he would lose $500,000 per week. That’s 1/17th of his base pay (16 game weeks, plus the bye week). He also would lose the weekly opportunity to show the rest of the NFL he is worth the money he is seeking.