Earl Thomas has hinted about holding out, but John Schneider has also said he won't. For now, Thomas is skipping voluntary workouts. But that will change in June.
It’s been no secret that Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas hasn’t been attending the team’s voluntary offseason program.
But the first public acknowledgment from the team of that fact came Sunday after rookie minicamp when coach Pete Carroll said he doesn’t think Thomas will attend any of the current Phase 2 portion of the offseason program but indicated he hopes Thomas might show up for Phase 3.
“We’ll find out,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to communicate. Phase 2 doesn’t look like it’s suiting him right now, so we’ll see. We’ll see what’s happening. Phase 3 is around the corner for us, so we’ll see. We’ve got one more week of Phase 2. Earl had a fantastic offseason and I know he knows how to get in shape. Veterans sometimes look at those rules and they see ‘voluntary’ and they see it differently than the other guys, so we’ll see.”
The offseason program began on April 16 with Phase 1, devoted to conditioning and physical rehabilitation.
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It shifted into Phase 2 on April 30, which is three weeks which can include on-field workouts consisting of individual player instruction and drills as well as team practices conducted on a “separates” basis (meaning, offense only and defense only). No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.
The final part of the program is Phase 3, which includes Organized Team Activities (OTAs), when the team can work 11-on-11 on the field. Seattle’s dates for those are May 21-22, May 24, May 29-30, June 1 and June 4-7. Then comes mandatory minicamp June 12-14.
It was no surprise that Thomas stayed away from Phase 1, which was mostly before the NFL draft and when the team was fielding trade offers for him.
But the passage of the draft and no trade of Thomas appeared to make it clear he will be part of the team’s roster in 2018, and Carroll’s comments Sunday indicated the team hopes he will now show up.
But the reason Thomas’ future has been an issue remains unchanged — that he would like a contract extension before the 2018 season.
Seattle is willing to let Thomas play the 2018 season without a new deal — his current contract, which pays him an average of $10 million a year, has just one season remaining.
Thomas hinted in an interview with ESPN in January that he would consider holding out if he did not have a new deal by the time training camp rolls around.
But Seahawks general manager John Schneider has since stated on several occasions that Thomas’ agents have told the team Thomas will not hold out.
Skipping voluntary workouts does not qualify as a hold out, though it often is done to at least make a statement of a player’s unhappiness with his current contract.
With Carroll indicating that the team hopes to see Thomas for Phase 3, there will be some meaning to whether he shows up and takes part in OTAs.
But as noted, all of the offseason program is voluntary until minicamp and there is no punishment for not participating.
There is, however, punishment for skipping minicamp as Thomas could be fined up to $84,435 if he were to sit out all three days of those workouts.
Schneider said following the draft that the Seahawks fielded offers for Thomas, including from Dallas, the team that has been most-often associated with the veteran free safety. The Cowboys, though, were thought not willing to offer more than a third-round pick for Thomas while Seattle wanted at least a second.
But while the passage of the draft appeared to make it clear Thomas will be a Seahawk in 2018, the question of when he’ll hit the field for the team again remains unanswered.
Nothing new on Malik McDowell
Carroll also said that there is nothing new on the status of defensive lineman Malik McDowell, the team’s first pick in the 2017 NFL draft who missed all of last season due to injuries sustained in an ATV accident last July.
It’s been reported that the Seahawks could soon release McDowell and one clue that that may indeed happen in the near future came Friday when it was revealed that 2018 third-round draft pick Rasheem Green out of USC was given the same number as McDowell — 94. That was not done by accident. While double numbers are not uncommon during the offseason when teams carry 90 players, it is rarely the case that two players at the same position have the same number.
So while a number 94 will take the field for Seattle this season, it isn’t expected to be McDowell.
But for now, he remains on the team’s roster.