As Seattle’s mandatory training camp creeps closer, all eyes are on GM John Schneider and what Seattle will do regarding star safety Earl Thomas. With Thomas sending a message via social media stating he will hold out until a new contract is reached, there are few options Seattle can try that appear realistic.
Seattle currently has just under $11 million in cap space this season. With $66 million available next season and even more-so in 2020, a three-year extension seems reasonable. However, both Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner‘s contracts are coming close to an end. Signing Thomas is not difficult. What’s challenging creating a cap-friendly situation with Wilson’s and Wagner’s re-up with the high tender they will expect. Wilson is a $25 million cap hit in 2019. With quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr earning more money, expect Wilson to ask to be the highest paid safety in the NFL. (For reference, Tom Brady is paid less) Bobby Wagner is the second highest paid player on the Seahawks, and top paid inside linebacker in the NFL. With his contact also ending shorty, that $66 million safety net just got smaller. Realistically, both Wagner and Wilson will take up $50 million, leaving $16 million to maneuver with. If Seattle wants to keep Thomas, they will need to manipulate the other contracts to include more bonuses and less of a hit on cap space.
Enter the idea of a trade to the Cowboys. Thomas has stated that he wants to be a 12 his whole career and hopes Seattle feels the same way. However, his reactions on social media are quite contrary. His teammates know of his bias towards the Cowboys as well as the rest of the nation. It is expected that the team you grew up watching your whole life obtaining your dream that you do want to play with them. Marshawn Lynch plays with the Raiders now, so it isn’t a new idea to Seahawks fans. What irked many is Thomas’ famous “come get me” quote to Jason Garrett. What may also have been difficult to swallow is another tweet where he responds to a tweet telling him to join the Cowboys “America’s team str8 truth.” With this type of loyalty coming out, it may be possible for the Cowboys to make a new offer. The Cowboys do have more cap space this season but have less than the Seahawks in 2019 and 2020. But without big names to resign, it may be in the Cowboys best interest to give up a 1st, 3rd, and a DB in exchange for Thomas.
If owner and manager Jerry Jones wants to make a trade, he will want to do fast. With top safeties limited in supply, one injury in preseason or training camp will increase his value. With him holding out and his contract nearing an end, he is relatively cheap and appears willing to make a deal with the Cowboys regarding his salary. Seattle does not have the leverage, and both camps know it. The only thing the Seahawks can do now is fine Thomas for missing camp if it comes to that, and let fans turn on him for missing games.
While Thomas and fans want Seattle to finalize this contract, it is in their best interest to sit on their hands and do nothing. Seattle has already been burned on multiple extensions it has done in the past and does not want to set a precedence of having players pull these holdout stunts on them whenever they want a new deal. As stated before, Seattle should wait until mid-season to finalize the deal and create a high guarantee contract that entices him to sign at a lower rate. But if Thomas has to go, there are those in the reserves ready to make their debut on the gridiron.