Earl Thomas’ four-year, $40 million contract runs through the end of the 2018 season, but he has been explicit in his desire for an extension. And it is not uncommon for the Seahawks to grant such extensions.
CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry has dealt with a few NFL holdouts in his day. The former agent represented receiver Jimmy Smith when he sat out most of the preseason in 2002, as he did with receiver Keenan McCardell in the summer of 2004.
Corry has seen holdouts work effectively, fail spectacularly and everything in between. So how did he react when Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said he won’t play this season until he has a contract extension?
“I cringed,” Corry said. “A holdout is supposed to be a last resort. He is getting way ahead of himself. You shouldn’t talk about a holdout until you’ve exhausted every avenue.”
Thomas’ four-year, $40 million contract runs through the end of the 2018 season, but he has been explicit in his desire for an extension. And it is not uncommon for the Seahawks to grant such extensions to key players who have one year left on their contracts.
But what baffled Corry is why Thomas would disclose his potential holdout seven months before the season begins. From a negotiation standpoint, that’s akin to giving the other team your playbook.
“Now you’re allowing the team to start planning around you,” Corry said. “Now that (the holdout) is on their radar, they may make a more concerted effort to sign (Bradley) McDougald or go after another safety. It was not the best strategic move.”
Thomas, 28, might very well be the best safety in the league, and will likely want a contract north of the one that pays Kansas City’s Eric Berry $13 million per year. Interestingly enough, Corry said he thinks he might have the leverage to acquire such a deal.
This might not have been the case a few months ago, but with Kam Chancellor’s career in jeopardy, and with Richard Sherman unlikely to sign an extension this offseason, Thomas’ value suddenly surged.
Having said that, you also have to look at the Seahawks’ history with holdouts. Chancellor’s attempt in 2015 only led to him missing two games and returning to the team with his tail between his legs. In fact, Kam’s antics are probably why Michael Bennett — who expressed discontent with his contract but never held out — signed an extension before he did in 2017.
The Seahawks — at least in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era — don’t have a history of breaking in these situations. The harder players push, the greater the resistance.
We don’t know if this holdout talk was Earl’s idea or his agent’s, but Corry said if Thomas was his client, he’d have advised him to backtrack.
“Although it’s hard to put that genie back in the bottle,” Corry said.
Thomas, of course, is not a typical NFL player. In fact, he’s not really a typical anything.
He tweeted that he might retire upon breaking his leg two seasons ago, and told Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to “Come get me,” after Seattle’s victory in Dallas last December.
He’s a filterless superstar who often allows emotion to control his words and actions. So perhaps none of this holdout talk should come as a surprise.
Or maybe it’s part of a strategy to get him traded.
In an ESPN piece that ran last year, Thomas indicated he felt overlooked at times. “Even on this team … they don’t respect me like they need to,” he said. Interesting perspective from a guy the Seahawks made the highest paid safety in the league three years ago, but that’s his opinion.
So if this is all part of a ploy to get himself shipped somewhere else — such as Dallas — perhaps this holdout talk is genius. But if he’s trying to get a Berry-like extension from the Seahawks, it seems ill-advised.
Thomas is on his way to the Hall of Fame due to the reads he makes on the field. Off the field? That might need some work.