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If Earl Thomas’ holdout costs him games, expect Bradley McDougald to replace him

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Pete Carroll’s expectation that Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas would arrive at mandatory minicamp, the three-time First Team All-Pro announced his intentions to holdout until he received a satisfactory new contract. Thomas has been heavily subject to rumors throughout the offseason that he’d potentially be dealt to the Dallas Cowboys, but those talks had subsided after nothing was done during the 2018 NFL Draft.

Three years ago, strong safety Kam Chancellor was also a holdout, which extended into the regular season and ended after Week 2, with the Seahawks in an 0-2 hole. As many may recall, Chancellor’s replacement for opening weekend was Dion Bailey, whose major late-game stumble most likely cost Seattle a road win at the St. Louis Rams. Bailey would be released, and DeShawn Shead wound up at SS against the Green Bay Packers before Chancellor made his return.

If Thomas’ holdout results in him missing game time, there’s reason to believe we won’t see a repeat of what transpired with Kam. During OTAs, the Seahawks have had Bradley McDougald at free safety and second-year man Delano Hill at strong safety. While most of McDougald’s starts last season were at SS with Chancellor missing more games, Bradley did start both games at FS when Thomas missed time due to injury.

Tedric Thompson, who was in the same draft class as Hill, also got first-team snaps at OTAs while McDougald was absent due to a family matter, but there’s nothing to suggest he’s the primary option in case Thomas isn’t available.

The stats may not show anything flashy, and no one should expect him to be like Thomas, but McDougald’s versatility is something the Seahawks clearly value, hence the decision to re-sign him. He’s been solid in pass coverage and (perhaps surprisingly) effective in run defense, and to be honest, Chancellor’s injury history even preceding last year have me thinking he’d be a long-term upgrade at strong safety.

Hopefully this issue is resolved soon, but if not, McDougald should be a more than acceptable replacement, and certainly better than the ill-fated Steven Terrell experience of 2016.