If you hadn’t heard, Earl Thomas has decided to holdout from all Seahawks activities until he gets a new contract. At this point, it is only from minicamp, but he is missing something mandatory. This is a standard negotiating tactic in today’s NFL. Holdouts exercise the only real leverage that the player possess, withholding services, while protecting them from injury risk when they don’t have much guaranteed left in their contract.
While there had been recent rumors and talks that Earl Thomas wouldn’t hold out, it turns out, he is following standard protocol and starting public contract negotiations now. In recent Seattle history we haven’t had to deal with this a lot, but there have been two instances of holdouts and it is worth looking at how they ended.
2014 - Marshawn Lynch
In 2012, Marshawn Lynch signed a new contract with the Seahawks, but apparently that wasn’t meant to last. It was a 4-year, $31M contract with a $6M signing bonus. Lynch had never gone to any of the optional workouts, so him missing those wasn’t a surprise.
As training camp started, he wasn’t there for practice. He didn’t get a new contract and the holdout came to an end during training camp, but he did get some contract considerations:
Under Lynch’s previous contract, he was due to make a $5 million base salary this year, plus $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses, and he could have earned another $500,000 in incentives if he had rushed for 1,500 yards. Now Lynch gets a base salary of $6 million (meaning the Seahawks effectively guaranteed the $1 million he previously would have had to earn), plus they’re taking $500,000 that he had been scheduled to get paid in 2015 and giving it to him now instead. In all, Lynch will make $6.5 million this year.
2016 - Kam Chancellor
In 2013, Kam signed a 4-year, $28M contract with $7.8M in guarantees. In 2015, Kam attended all of the optional and mandatory mini camps, but then didn’t show up to training camp. The holdout lasted through the second game of the season, resulting in absolutely nothing for Kam. Seattle dug their feet in and won the dispute. It appears his fines were reduced to nothing and all was forgiven. He did his best to save face, but he definitely didn’t win the situation:
“Ima go help my teammates that are understanding of my position and the ones who aren’t. God forgives all, why can’t i? Time to help us get back to the big dance . I can address business after the season. Me and Marshawn started a mission 2 years ago. I can’t let my Dawg down....Real talk.”
The Earl situation is different, since this holdout is going into the final year of his contract, which is the Seahawks standard time to negotiate extensions. This is just mini camp and a hold out won’t effect the regular season at this time and Seattle has negotiated multiple extensions between mini camp and training camp in the past.
Since this is the correct time in the process and in his contract, there still is a very good chance that this ends with a contract extension prior to training camp. This just isn’t the same as the last two holdouts.