The Seahawks took a gamble by not trading Earl Thomas, but beat writer Bob Condotta says smart money is still on him suiting up for Seattle this season. That and more in his latest mailbag.
The Seahawks are holding OTAs each day this week through Thursday. But the next two days are closed to the media. So we’ll fill some time answering a few more questions over the next few days. As always, ask away at @bcondotta or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A: It’s a fair point that the Seahawks are taking something of a gamble here with Thomas, who by all accounts has apparently done nothing with the team this offseason.
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But it’s also worth remembering that the most Seattle was apparently offered for Thomas was a third-round pick. That’s also the most Seattle might get as compensation if he were to sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent following the 2018 season. As we saw this year, Seattle would only get such a comp pick if it has more free agent losses than gains.
But that’s also something the team can control, and it is undoubtedly playing into how the Seahawks have handled Thomas’ situation so far. If all they were going to get was a package that would include nothing higher than a third-round pick (or its equivalent) why not hold on to him for the 2018 season and see what happens?
Since his contract could toll — meaning, it could just add another year — if he were to never report for the 2018 season, Thomas has to show up and play at some point (as former agent Joel Corry, who now writes for CBSSports.com, explained last year, the exact date when a player has to report to avoid a contract potentially tolling is somewhat unclear. But it’s generally been regarded as eight weeks, or the midway point of the season, which came into play last year with now-Seahawk Duane Brown’s holdout with Houston.)
The Seahawks, though, are sending every signal they don’t think any of this is a real issue. While Thomas has been a no-show so far, what he has missed is officially voluntary. They expect him to show up for next week’s mini-camp, which is mandatory and for which he can be fined for missing (up to $84,435).
Missing what he has so far I don’t think impacts his trade value, and I’m not sure even holding out for a while into training camp would impact his value all that much — the main reason teams don’t want to give up much for him is that he only has a year remaining on his contract and any team acquiring him would have to face either losing him after this season or re-upping him at $14-15 million a year or so as he heads into his 30s. Basically, all the same reasons the Seahawks are where they are with Thomas right now.
I think the smart money is still on Thomas playing the season in Seattle. As for what happens after that, I don’t think even the Seahawks or Thomas have any real idea at the moment.
A: Making a statement that he’d like a contract extension sooner rather than later.
Clark is entering the last season of his initial four-year rookie deal, which will pay him $943,941 in 2018.
Obviously, the Seahawks have some decisions to make on Clark of how aggressively to try to extend him and when. My understanding is that the Seahawks have not had any substantive discussions with Clark and his representatives yet and it’s possible they are willing to play this one out a little bit. Clark has been a solid player in his first three years but also has had the benefit of having a lot of opponent attention shown to the likes of the now-departed Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. The Seahawks might want to see how he handles being the main man on a re-tooled defensive line before committing.
And while Seattle did for years have a general policy of re-upping its “core” players (Thomas, Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, etc.) before they entered the final year of their contract, the Seahawks are obviously in a somewhat different stage of things now and might not be looking to be quite that aggressive on contracts at this point.
Clark might also be heeding the words of Bennett, who sat out OTAs most of the last few years and once said he didn’t think it made sense for vets to risk injury in voluntary workouts (and in Clark’s case, he might think it makes less sense taking any kind of a risk when he’s going into the final year of his contract).
But as with Thomas, the expectation is Clark will be show up for mandatory mini-camp and everything from that point forward. As with Thomas, Clark could be fined up to $84,435 if he skips mini-camp, and I can’t imagine he’ll do that. So he’ll undoubtedly report, having let the team know something it already knew.
A: I’d never ruled out anything — and it’s worth remembering the Seahawks brought Murray in for a visit, so there was at least some interest in him specifically at one point and a little bit of a relationship built that the team could rely on if it suddenly wanted to seek him out again. But I think the Seahawks are pretty happy with what they have at tailback at the moment.
The biggest thing is that for now, every tailback is healthy and participating in everything as far as I can tell (yep, that includes the oft-injured and just-as-often-maligned C.J. Prosise).
I think the team views Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis as a good 1-2-3 punch (and at the moment, probably in that order) as the early-down tailbacks with Prosise and J.D. McKissic vying for the two-minute/third-down role, with the question being if all five will make the 53-man roster. As of now, I’d say yes given that each of the five appears to have enough versatility to help out in a number of different roles, and McKissic also could be a factor on return teams and also played on other special teams last year.
So at the moment, I’d view those two guys specifically (Morris and Murray) as options only if injuries hit and the Seahawks suddenly have a need for immediate depth.
As for veteran free agents in general, as we saw with last week’s signing of Brandon Marshall, the Seahawks are always exploring options. But at this point, with a 90-man roster assembled and the team beginning to take shape, additions of veterans are more often related to filling some hole that crops up along the way.