Coach Pete Carroll said ‘it’s not even a topic’ and that the All-Pro safety would be playing in Seattle next season and the team would not pursue a trade.
So it turns out the Seahawks aren’t ready to kick Earl Thomas to the curb, as he so quaintly put it last December.
In an offseason of swirling change in Seattle, Thomas almost certainly is going to be staying put, and that’s a huge plus for a team that needs to maintain strong roots from the past as it systematically reorganizes its future.
Whatever intrigue might have existed over Thomas’ future with the team, Pete Carroll and John Schneider were ready to put it to rest on Friday, and do so as close to definitively as team officials ever do.
It’s time, it seems, to move along to other matters and proceed with business as usual — which is Thomas manning the free-safety position with distinction, and doing so in Seattle rather than Dallas or somewhere else.
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“It’s not even a topic,’’ Carroll said after the second day of the draft ended without a Thomas trade. “Not even worth talking about. He’s our guy. We’re thrilled to have an All-Pro guy back here. It’s awesome.”
With Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett already gone, and Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril unlikely to return, Thomas is a beacon of institutional knowledge and a vital link to the franchise’s glory days. Those touchstones are dwindling fast, partly by design, partly as a result of the ephemeral nature of NFL football.
The tension in Seattle on Friday’s Day 2 of the NFL draft was built around a central question: Would the Seahawks use Thomas, a cornerstone player and franchise icon, as bait to acquire additional draft picks, which are life blood to this franchise?
As the picks flew off the board in the second round with no announcement of any Seattle deal from the commissioner — including the 50th selection by Dallas, which is the pick that most observers felt would have to be the centerpiece of any Thomas trade — it became apparent that the veteran and venerable safety wasn’t going anywhere.
The Seahawks settled for just one pick on Friday, and Schneider had to do some fancy-stepping to even get that with a trade down on Thursday. Seattle, naturally, traded down again on Friday, but just three spots, from 76 to 79, to net an extra seventh-round pick. With their third-round pick, they chose defensive lineman Rasheem Green of USC, whom they hope will be the stout pass-rusher they desire.
How Green develops will reveal itself over time. In Thomas, they have a sure thing, one who has been a stalwart ever since Seattle selected him in the first round of the first draft of the Carroll/Schneider era, back in 2010.
Schneider acknowledged that he talked to a number of teams on Friday about Thomas, but he and Carroll said that was mainly the result of teams hearing talk in the media of his availability. Nothing came close to developing into something serious, they said.
“It’s awesome,’’ Carroll said of Thomas’ likely retention. “Earl’s a great football player. You may have looked at it like he wasn’t going to be here. We didn’t look at it like that. There was a lot of speculation on your guys’ end of it. We’ve been counting on Earl being here the whole time.
“It’s kind of out there, and you listen,’’ added Schneider. “Probably what happened, at the combine I was asked about it. We’re being honest that we listen to everything, and that’s where it stands. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t, you know what I mean? It’s like baseball guys not listening to … I suppose I can’t mention names.”
Thomas’ status with Seattle in 2018 has been a prominent question ever since he took a detour to the Dallas Cowboys locker room after a Seahawks 21-12 victory in Dallas on Dec. 24. When he advised Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to “come get me,” it was apparent that the road ahead could become treacherous.
Thomas quickly did some damage control, telling reporters in Seattle a few days later that he still wanted to be with the Seahawks, “but when Seattle kicks me to the curb, please, Cowboys, come get me. That’s the only place I would rather be if I get kicked to the curb.”
What would make the Seahawks even consider dealing Thomas, of course, is the fact that his contract is up after the 2018 season, and he has made no secret that he seeks a lucrative reworking of the four-year, $40 million contract he signed in April of 2014. They faced something similar with Richard Sherman and watched his trade value disappear after an Achilles injury.
Where all this goes from here — either agreement on a new deal, or the uneasiness and potential disruption that would come if they don’t — is something to watch closely. But my hunch is that when it comes down to the moment of truth, Thomas is too much of a football warrior to be a negative force — particularly with a new contract on the line after the season.
Oh, he might gripe occasionally about the lack of a deal, but Schneider said recently he doesn’t expect Thomas to hold out, based on what he’s heard from his agent. And Thomas seems constitutionally incapable of playing at another level than maniacal intensity.
All those pretty draft picks that Thomas might have brought are enticing, but for the Seahawks, he represents a sure thing — an All-Pro-caliber player at a vital position. And for a team that still has designs on winning now while it recalibrates for the future, his continued presence is vital — more so than a couple of extra second- or third-round picks.