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Earl Thomas says he won’t feel comfortable in 2018 without a contract extension

NFL: Pro Bowl-NFC Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas is at the Pro Bowl this weekend, his sixth in the last seven years, and he made some serious comments on Saturday about whether or not he’ll return to the team next season. Thomas told Jane Slater of the NFL Network that he won’t feel comfortable playing for Seattle in 2018 if he doesn’t get a contract extension, and that his interaction with Jason Garrett after the Dallas game was indeed an impulse about his love for the Cowboys.

Thomas, 29 in May, is set to count $10.4 million against the cap next season, the final year of his four-year deal. If Thomas had more than one season left on his contract, there’d be little hope for the Seahawks giving him an extension, as their policy has been to not negotiate with a player unless the deal was expiring. Since 2018 is the final year of his contract though, it seems rational to assume that Seattle is open to extending a Hall of Fame-caliber safety who has yet to reach 30.

Given that, there’s a good chance that Thomas will receive the new deal he wants if the Seahawks don’t plan to rebuild the roster this year. The reason for keeping Thomas in that case is that Pete Carroll is surely thinking about how much longer he can keep coaching, both in general and in Seattle, which would make a rebuild for 2019 or later unlikely. Trading Thomas to save money would not normally be conducive to remaining competitive for next season. Extending Thomas could also lower his 2018 cap hit and make it easier for them to add talent or to re-sign some of their impending free agents.

On the other hand, the Seahawks may have buyer’s remorse on some recent player extensions given to Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Marshawn Lynch. Those extensions may make them more hesitant to extend Thomas to a deal that technically would not kick in until he was 30. What’s his trade value? I don’t think there’s much value in speculation at this point. The value of trading a player is complicated and these comments don’t make a trade sound necessary or imminent. It could be just as likely that these comments mean Thomas wants to stay in Seattle long-term, if not more likely.

Thomas does seem to get emotional about the prospect of playing for the Dallas Cowboys, but there are plenty of roadblocks between him and that scenario for the moment, including:

  • Dallas has to want to trade for him
  • Dallas has to want to give up a good deal to acquire him
  • The Seahawks have to agree to the terms of a deal specifically from Dallas
  • Dallas has to be willing to give him a contract extension that he wants and Dallas is not in an outstanding position as far as their salary cap for 2018 goes
  • If Thomas is worried about playing next season because of health issues, then it would not matter if the Seahawks or Cowboys owned his rights, they’d still have to give him a new contract

For now Thomas is a Seahawk and he has yet to say that he does not want to remain a Seahawk. He just wants security beyond next season and there’s reason to believe that Seattle wants to keep him beyond next season. So for now, nothing changes. In the near future, it sounds like something could happen, either in the form of a new deal, or a blockbuster deal.