Thomas held out for all of training camp in search of a new contract and returned without one, or any promise of one.
Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas did not take part in practice Friday and coach Pete Carroll afterward would not specify why other than to say that Thomas was dealing with an issue “personal in nature” — nor would Carroll say if Thomas will play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
That Carroll was vague about why Thomas sat out — while also saying it had nothing to do with his health nor was it a routine rest day often given to veterans — led to lots of speculation about what could be at hand, including whether a trade might be imminent.
NFL.com, however, reported Friday afternoon that Thomas’ sitting out was not related to a trade and stated that two anonymous Seahawks saying they expected Thomas to play Sunday.
Also, there remains no indication that the Seahawks and Thomas have been talking about an extension — Thomas held out in hopes of getting a new contract with Seattle with his current deal paying him $10 million a season set to run out after the 2018 season. But he returned the Wednesday before the opener at Denver with no new contract and no promise of one from Seattle (though the Seahawks were reported to have waived much of the more than $1.5 million in fines he could have been levied).
Most Read Sports Stories
- Ranking 16 recent Seattle football coaches — from Don James and Pete Carroll to Tyrone Willingham
- What does the Edwin Encarnacion trade mean for the Mariners? Depends who you ask. | Analysis
- Recently retired UW Huskies linebacker D.J. Beavers: 'I love playing football, but my life comes first'
- Analysis: Breaking down strengths and weaknesses of Washington's competition in the Pac-12 North
- Sports on TV & radio: Local listings for Seattle games and events
That led some to instead wonder if Thomas — who had said he would need to “protect myself until I do get paid” — might be letting the team know he remains unhappy with his current situation, or at the least holding true to his vow to “protect myself” particularly with a game on tap Sunday against the team he has made it clear he’d love to play for someday.
Thomas attended Friday’s practice wearing his jersey and a visor, visible on the sidelines during a part of the beginning of practice open to the media. He was not in the locker room after practice during a time when media is allowed in.
Asked initially why Thomas did not take part in practice Friday, Carroll said, “Yeah, he couldn’t work today.”
Thomas also didn’t practice Wednesday for what were listed as non-injury related reasons, which was regarded as being a routine rest day.
But he practiced fully Thursday and there was no indication that sitting out Friday was also a rest day — Carroll could have said that and often has in the past, but did not Friday in regards to Thomas. That Thomas was at practice also seemed to indicate he was not dealing with an immediate personal emergency — Carroll also could have said that and did not.
Asked Friday if Thomas was OK physically after playing all but one snap against the Bears on Monday, Carroll said Thomas was “fine. He came out fine.”
Asked a follow-up if Thomas can play Sunday, Carroll said, “We’ll see how he’s doing. Make sure he’s OK.”
Carroll then confirmed in a follow-up question that Thomas did not sit out due to injury, saying, “He’s got some other stuff going on we are working on. … It’s personal in nature, that’s why I’m not talking about it.”
The team listed Thomas as not taking part in practice Friday for NIR (non-injury related) reasons on its official practice report required by the league. The team did not have to give a designation for Thomas’ playing status for Sunday, however.
Thomas, who turns 30 next May, held out through all of the offseason in hopes of a contract extension, releasing a statement via social media in June saying he did not intend to take part in any official activities with the Seahawks until his long-term future was secured.
But Thomas returned the Wednesday before the opening game against Denver, saying he came back solely to avoid losing weekly game checks of $500,000, with no new contract in hand — and with sources saying the Seahawks and Thomas had not talked about a possible extension.
Thomas announced his return to the Seahawks via social media, stating, “The disrespect has been well noted and will not be forgotten.”
Asked after the game against Denver why he came back, Thomas said, “Me and my agent talked about it. We understood I had a lot of money on the line. I couldn’t just throw it away. So basically I decided to come back. I’m glad I did.”
Thomas, though, also raised some eyebrows with a comment that indicated he would do what he could to not get hurt.
“All I can do is put the best product out there as possible, protect myself until I do get paid,” Thomas said.
Those comments after the Denver game were the only time he has talked to the media since the end of the 2017 season.
Thomas declined to speak to a couple of local reporters who approached him in the locker room Thursday, saying, “I’m not talking.”
Thomas started each of Seattle’s first two games and was on the field for all but 11 defensive snaps, and was rated this week by Pro Football Focus as having the highest grade of any safety in the NFL.
That Dallas is in town this weekend will lead to speculation that maybe something is brewing with the Cowboys. But as the NFL.com report indicated, there was no thought that the fact he didn’t practice Friday was due to any pending trade.
Thomas grew up in Orange, Texas, and attended the University of Texas and famously told Dallas coach Jason Garrett to “come get me” when the Seahawks kick him to the curb after Seattle’s win over the Cowboys last December.
Asked about that incident this week during a conference call with Seattle reporters, Garrett said it was an unusual situation.
“Yeah, it was,” Garrett said. “I’ve never had that. I’ve never had that happen before, an opposing player comes into your locker room. But we have great respect for him. Obviously when he was coming out in the draft he was as highly regarded as anybody. Easy to see why he’s turned into a great player and a great leader for that franchise. So we have the utmost respect for him as a player and as a guy and he’ll present a great challenge for us this week.”
Thomas is the last remaining original member of the team’s famed Legion of Boom secondary, having been a first-round pick of the team in 2010 and going on to earn six Pro Bowl nods and four times named an All-Pro.