Earl Thomas isn’t trying to leave the Seahawks any time soon, but he isn’t quite ready to return for another season, either.
The eight-year veteran at free safety and defensive mainstay in Seattle announced on Sunday that he is holding out from all team activities until he receives a new contract.
The 29-year-old Thomas has one year remaining on a four-year, $40 million deal he signed back in 2014. At the time that contract made him the second-highest paid safety behind Eric Berry. Since then he’s remained one of the more dominant players at his position. And that’s despite Seattle taking a few steps back in the last year while moving on from the likes of Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.
In Thomas’ note, he made clear to address his teammates and fans while expressing his desire to finish his career with the Seahawks. Still, with mandatory minicamps beginning this week, it seems highly unlikely Thomas will be spending any of the offseason with his teammates.
The contract talks come at a bit of a crossroads for Seattle. No longer the dominant force in the NFC West — or NFC, in general, for that matter — the Seahawks are forced to reckon with a Los Angeles Rams team that will be expected to contend for the Super Bowl, along with a quickly rebuilding San Francisco 49ers behind quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Thomas’ durability could go a long way towards remaining in contention for the division, however. The safety has missed just seven regular season games in the last four years. In 2017, Thomas finished with 88 combined tackles — the third most on the roster — along with two interceptions and one touchdown.
Assuming the contract talks don’t get resolved this week, Thomas can expect to pay about $80,000 in fines for missing minicamp.
It’s a risk he’s willing to take and then some as he looks to negotiate what could end up being one of his last NFL contracts. How much the Seahawks are willing to fulfill his wish of finishing his career in Seattle remains to be seen.
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