The Seattle Seahawks have had some significant turnover this offseason, and now they are going to be without a key veteran for an unknown amount of time. Free safety Earl Thomas confirmed on Sunday that he will be holding out of all team activities until his contract situation is resolved.
The offseason workout program prior to mandatory minicamp is voluntary. Some players have workout bonuses, but no player is required to attend any of phase one, phase two, or OTAs. The veteran minicamp in June is the first activity that is required, and the first point at which a player will start accruing fines for his absence.
Thomas’ statement suggests he will not report to training camp without a new deal, and I have not seen anything to suggest a deal is close. Thomas first mentioned the possibility of a holdout back in January. In late April, Seahawks GM John Schneider seemed to think a holdout was not in the cards.
Seahawks GM John Schneider says at his charity event tonight he has been told by Earl Thomas' reps that Thomas will not hold out this year even if he does not have a new contract.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) April 20, 2018
So much for that.
Thomas is entering the final year of his contract, set to earn $8.5 million in base salary. He turned 29 in May, which means he will be 30 in the first year of a new contract. Any kind of deal would require a multi-year commitment, and given how players over 30 are viewed in the NFL, it’s not surprising the Seahawks have not been willing to commit to something extensive.
On the other hand, he is Earl Thomas. This defense was miserable after he got hurt in 2016. If the Seahawks think his skills are going to go off a cliff all of a sudden, so be it. But as I often say, I’m fully behind the player when it comes to a holdout. Sometimes a holdout does not seem like the wiser option (see Davis, Vernon), but players have to do what they think is right in a league where they are discarded the second a team thinks they cannot squeeze enough out of them.
The Seahawks have said they’re not “rebuilding,” but instead resetting or reloading. Considering they have Russell Wilson leading their offense and could have Earl Thomas leading their defense, that could make some sense. But if they are in fact closer to rebuilding that defense, they need to figure out how they want to do it. Thomas could be a leader for that new, young defense, or they could just blow it all up on defense and get what they can in a trade.
I think we end up seeing a contract deal done, but it would not surprise me if this carried into the middle of the preseason.