The futures of many of the Seahawks' core players are in question. Earl Thomas and Michael Bennett admitted as much. Jimmy Graham was nowhere to be found.
While Michael Bennett dressed quickly and was one of the first players to leave the locker room, exiting shortly after speaking to media members, Earl Thomas sat at his locker at CenturyLink Field, wrapped in a towel, checking his phone and then starring blankly ahead.
He seemed unwilling to believe the 2017 season had ended without a spot in the postseason after the Seahawks lost 26-24 Sunday to the Cardinals.
And Jimmy Graham? Well, he was never around after the game, just like every game this season.
Was it the last time that one or two or all three of them would wear a Seahawks uniform?
For any team, after a season that would be construed as a failure for Seattle, changes to personnel are expected. But for the Seahawks and a defense that is highly paid and getting older, the prospect of cutting Bennett, who has three years remaining on his contract, or trading Thomas, if they don’t believe he’ll re-sign, isn’t an impossibility. Graham, who is an unrestricted free agent, likely will use the open market to find a new home.
“We know that’s coming off the top,” Thomas said. “It’s not going to be the same look. There is going to be new pieces, and some guys that we love might not be here. You never know.”
Bennett, 32, is owed more than $27 million over the next three years. He had 8½ sacks this season while playing through a nagging foot injury and some knee discomfort.
“Most people that tear their plantar fascia don’t do anything and I played through it the whole season,” he said. “You do what you can for your teammates. You go out and play as hard as you can. It’s part of the sport.”
Admittedly, Bennett is uncertain of his future. He knows that being cut is certainly a possibility if not an expectation.
“I’ll be fine,” he said. “Whatever happens, I’ve loved being a Seahawk. I’ve had a great career with the Seahawks. You just keep growing and keep playing the best you can. You love the organization and you love the players that you played with. I’ve won a lot of games. So if I’m not here, I would never have any hard feelings toward the organization. I love Pete Carroll and John Schneider and you just move forward. This is a part of football. This is a part of the sport. You move forward and play for another organization if you get the opportunity.”
A week ago, the always-emotional Thomas came out of the Cowboys locker room in Dallas, telling coach Jason Garrett: “Come get me.”
Asked about it, Thomas said, “The biggest thing when I say ‘Come get me,’ is I don’t literally mean ‘Come get me now,’ you know? I’m still in the prime of my career — I still want to be (in Seattle).
“But when Seattle kicks me to the curb, please, Cowboys, come get me. That’s the only place I would rather be if I get kicked to the curb. That’s what I meant by it … And, you know, people take life too serious. Me, that’s just who I am.”
The question of whether Seattle will sign the 28-year-old Thomas to an extension looms. The Seahawks typically sign players to extensions before the final year of their contracts. The expectation is that Thomas will want to be paid more per year than Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who signed a six-year, $78 million contract.
If the Seahawks don’t think they can sign Thomas to an extension or do not want to make that massive investment in a player who is still very talented and productive, but has dealt with nagging injuries the past few seasons, they wouldn’t “kick him to the curb” but trade him for draft choices.
Sunday, Thomas was asked whether he would be back with the Seahawks next season.
“I have no clue,” he said. “I have no clue. I know for sure that I’m going to win in the end, regardless.”
But the futures of Bennett and Thomas with Seahawks aren’t the only ones in steeped in uncertainty. Carroll and Schneider could decide to make other changes as well.
“I try to stay away from that,” said linebacker K.J. Wright. “Hopefully we can keep the main guys here and the main coaches here. It’s just the nature of the business when you don’t have success.”