Was it meaningful that there was suddenly a report on the NFL's official network Friday night that more than the Dallas Cowboys may be interested in Thomas?
As the Seahawks cut their roster from 90 players to 53 by 1 p.m. Saturday, one player they don’t have to do anything about is holdout free safety Earl Thomas.
Thomas remains on a reserve/did not report list and does not count against roster limits, and he can stay there until he shows up.
The Seahawks appear totally fine with that idea of knowing that Thomas has to report by at least the 10th week, but maybe a little earlier, if he wants to avoid having his contract toll, meaning he’d still be under contract to Seattle in 2019.
What also doesn’t appear to be happening are any contract talks between Thomas and the Seahawks, each appearing firm in their positions at the moment — Thomas not wanting to report until he has a new contract, the Seahawks not wanting to give him one.
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That has been the indication from the Seahawks and other sources for a long time — that there are no talks and no plans for any — and was reiterated in an NFL Network report Friday night in which it was stated that there are “no talks” between the two sides and “no sense of urgency” for there to be any.
The NFL Network report, however, also stated that “multiple teams” have approached the Seahawks about a possible trade for Thomas but that so far none have offered Seattle’s asking price, which has been thought to be at least a second-round draft choice.
As the NFL Network stated, it’s long been thought that Dallas is the most logical team to want to trade for Thomas because they have a need for him and now run a defense that is similar to that of Seattle’s — especially in the back end — with former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard now overseeing their defensive passing game; and that Thomas has made it clear he’d love to play there near his home in Orange, Texas, which makes it more likely he’d sign an extension to stay. Any team trading for Thomas will want assurance he will be more than a one-season rental if they are going to give up much for him (teams could be given the chance to negotiate with him ahead of time).
That other teams would approach the Seahawks shouldn’t surprise anyone and probably isn’t even really news — it’s hard to imagine other teams haven’t at least called the Seahawks just to see what the situation is.
Maybe more interesting is the timing of the report, coming as it does on a weekend when trades are more common with teams having to pare their rosters and getting their best sense yet of what they will have in 2018.
Was this a timed leak to make it clear once more the Seahawks don’t intend to re-up Thomas and remain willing to trade him at the right price? One that maybe would also let Dallas know that if it really wants him, the time to come get him is now before someone else might?
And even if the Seahawks are willing to wait things out, Thomas’ side has some motivation to end this thing sooner rather than later.
He’s wracked up more than $1.5 million potential fines so far missing mandatory minicamp and all of the preseason. But those are discretionary, and even if they are likely to be enforced by the Seahawks, Thomas might still think there is a way out of some of those.
That changes now.
Players have to be on the 53-man roster to get paid during the regular season, and for Thomas that means giving up $500,000 for every game he sits out from here on out (Thomas would get paid if he reports anytime by the Saturday before the Sept. 9 opener at Denver, when the final roster has to be set). That’s money there’s no way to get back.
Thomas may be willing to lose some money to make a point. But just how much he’s willing to lose becomes the question now.
What the Seahawks have been banking on all along is that Thomas has to show up by week 10 or maybe a week or two earlier just to stay away from the tolling potential as that is not a hard-and-fast NFL rule but is based on precedent (in fact, it’s based on Joey Galloway’s holdout with the Seahawks in 2000). But in general, it’s thought that as long as Thomas plays six games for the Seahawks, then it will count as the final year of his contract.
Waiting that long, though, would mean giving up $5 million and then having to play out the string for a team that appears not to consider him as part of its long-term future.
Maybe Friday’s report was nothing. Or, maybe, a saga that has dragged on for months is finally nearing an end.