Thomas' holdout from training camp is entering its second week with no end in sight.
Seahawk free safety Earl Thomas — who remains holding out from training camp while locked in a contract dispute with the team — reiterated his desire to either get an extension to be traded in a lengthy article published by The Players’ Tribune Thursday morning.
It’s the first time Thomas has spoken in any manner since his holdout officially began a week ago, one in which he could be fined up to $200,000 for having missed five practices (teams can fine players up to $40,000 for each day missed).
Thomas writes of the physical and mental toll that football takes.
“If you’re risking your body to deliver all of this value to an organization, then you deserve some sort of assurance that the organization will take care of you if you get hurt. It’s that simple. This isn’t new, and this isn’t complicated. It’s the reason I’m holding out — I want to be able to give my everything, on every play, without any doubt in my mind,” he wrote. “And it’s the reason why I’m asking the Seahawks to do one of two things: Offer me an extension. Or trade me to a team that wants me to be part of their future.”
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Thomas is entering the final season of a four-year, $40 million extension signed in the spring of 2014, due to pay him a salary of $8.5 million in 2018.
It’s thought Thomas would like a deal that might top the $13 million of Kansas City’s Eric Berry, the highest-paid safety in the NFL.
Thomas doesn’t address specifics of his contract situation in the story.
His reference to being an offered an extension could be seen as confirming rumblings that the team has not made him a specific offer.
Seattle general manager John Schneider said at the NFL Combine last winter that the team was talking to Thomas’ representatives, which led to speculation at the time that a deal could get worked out.
But in April Schneider said the two sides had had no further discussions because Thomas’ people “know where we are at” and that “nothing has changed since then.”
There is no indication of any talks between the two sides since then. Schneider said then the team did not think Thomas would hold out with Schneider saying he had been told that by Thomas’ representatives (Thomas is represented by David Mulugheta of Athletes First).
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said a simple “no” when asked on Tuesday if the team has had any talks with Thomas since he began his holdout.
Thomas also writes that he would like to stay in Seattle and refutes any idea he has been hoping to be traded.
“And that’s one of the things about this that’s been very frustrating — this idea that I’m doing what I’m doing because I don’t want to play for Seattle anymore,” he wrote. “That’s just not true, man. I love Seattle. But I’d hoped I wouldn’t even have to say that. I’d hoped that the way I’ve played for this team over the last eight years would tell you all you need to know. I love Seattle. With that being said … I also have learned why I need to take care of this business side of things. In the NFL, no matter what you’ve done or what you’ve accomplished, teams are constantly reminding you that you don’t matter.”
Thomas also writes of the impact on his decision to hold out of seeing Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor each suffer significant injuries in a game at Arizona last season — Chancellor a neck injury that is likely career-ending and Sherman an Achilles tear that ended his season.
“That Thursday night game really cemented in my mind the truth — which is that your entire life can change on one play,” Thomas wrote. “And when it does, no matter what you’ve accomplished in the past … you can still get cut without even so much as a negotiation. That’s what happened to Sherm. One of the all-time greats. And I know it could happen to me too.”
The story ends with Thomas repeating his desire for a trade if the Seahawks don’t want him anymore.
“If the Seahawks don’t intend on having me around for the long-term, then I understand,” he said. “And if they want to start over and rebuild, then that’s their right — it’s part of the business. It’s not what I want … but I get it. All I ask, though, is that if that’s the case, and they don’t want me anymore — just please trade me to an organization that does.”
There have been trade rumors involving Thomas since the end of last season, with Dallas considered the most likely possible destination due in part to Thomas’ stated desire to play there (he grew up in Orange, Texas).
The Seahawks are thought to want at least a second-round pick for Thomas knowing they could get at least a third if he were to sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent following the 2019 season.
The Seahawks are also thought content to wait out Thomas’ holdout knowing that he essentially has to return by midseason or risk that his contract could toll.