The Seahawks appear ready now to try to re-sign Thomas to a contract extension.
While Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider tried to downplay that Friday marked any sort of deadline in terms of the future of free safety Earl Thomas, a report from the NFL Network Monday adds more evidence that indeed was the case.
According to Ian Rapoport, the Cowboys and Seahawks continued to talk throughout the draft but nothing got done when Dallas would not budge on offering Seattle at least a second-round pick for Thomas.
The report states further that: “Dallas might have pulled it off with their third-round pick ‘and a lot more,’ Rapoport added, but the staunch refusal to part with the No. 50 overall pick that turned out to be guard Connor Williams effectively scuttled the deal.”
When Dallas selected Williams Friday night, many around the league regarded that as significant since it didn’t seem likely any deal with the Cowboys could happen without that pick, and Rapoport’s report gives more validity to that idea.
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Rapoport further stated that now that the Seahawks are keeping Thomas for 2018 they are “expected to work toward a contract extension with Thomas.”
That also would not be a surprise as Seattle will undoubtedly take a shot at trying to keep the six-time Pro Bowl free safety in the fold past the 2018 season.
Schneider said two weeks he has had no talks with Thomas’ representatives since the NFL Combine in late February, stating there had been no reason for any additional discussions because Thomas knows what the Seahawks are offering and that nothing had changed. Schneider also said he had been assured Thomas will not hold out in 2018 if he does not have a new contract, something Thomas had hinted at during an interview with ESPN from the Pro Bowl in January.
But extensions for players who are under contract for the upcoming season are usually reserved for after the draft, once the team has a clearer idea of its roster and salary cap situation moving forward. And especially with Thomas’ immediate future now settled, it’d make sense for each side to begin talking at some point soon with an eye on getting something done prior to training camp.
However, there are also indications the Seahawks are willing to have Thomas play the 2018 season without an extension. That’s something the team has tried to avoid with its core players during the Carroll/Schneider era — recall Seattle getting Kam Chancellor under contract early in camp last season.
But the Chancellor contract has backfired, with Seattle likely to be on the hook for $12 million over the next two years even if Chancellor never plays again due to a neck/nerve issue, as is generally anticipated (he’ll likely remain on the roster for the 2018 season in some capacity due to his contract and cap ramifications).
The Seahawks are also obviously in a little different spot now in terms of their overall team makeup than they were at any time from the 2013-17 seasons, when they were trying to keep the core group together.
Schneider at the Combine also made a telling reference to third contracts being looked at differently than second contracts.
“This would be his third (contract),” Schneider said. “It’s a little different situation than when you have a guy coming off his rookie deal and then you are just going on a second contract.”
Seattle, though, did re-sign Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett and Chancellor all to third contracts. But as noted, times are a little different now and while the goal may be to keep Thomas long-term, the Seahawks also may play a little more hardball than they were perceived to have done with Lynch, Bennett and Chancellor, who all got deals that some analysts later questioned.
Re-signing Thomas before the 2018 season also isn’t the only option.
As with any unrestricted free agent, Seattle could just bank on knowing it would potentially get a draft pick back as compensation if Thomas were to sign elsewhere.
Seattle could also consider various franchise tag scenarios, though that’s regarded as less likely — for one, it’s not thought Seattle has seriously considered tagging anyone since using one on kicker Olindo Mare in 2010.
That the Seahawks apparently held firm on what they wanted for Thomas, though, seems to indicate the team has hope something will work out with Thomas, who it’s thought may want a contract in the $13-14 million a year range.
It also indicates that Seattle isn’t completely in full-rebuild mode — an idea Carroll and Schneider have resisted all along, anyway — apparently having decided that it’s worth keeping Thomas for the $8.5 million he is due to make this season instead of getting a third-round pick this year, which it’s thought is what Dallas was willing to give up.
Schneider admitted after the draft on Friday that the Seahawks had had some talks with teams about Thomas.
Carroll, though, tried to quickly dismiss the whole thing, saying the rumors were largely a media creation. Obviously, there was more to it than that — the whole saga began with Thomas’ “come get me” comments in Dallas and both Carroll and Schneider had opportunities at the Combine and league meetings to say there was nothing to any trade rumors involving Thomas and didn’t.
But Carroll’s strong words may have been meant more to send a signal that the issue for now is dead and gone.
“It’s not even a topic,” Carroll said. “It’s not even worth talking about. He’s our guy.”