Commentary: Once a beneficiary of time and circumstance, Earl Thomas could become a casualty of the same

At least Earl didn’t keep us suspense, confirming today that he won’t be attending Seahawks mini camp or any team activities until his contract situation is resolved.

In a message posted on social media, Earl said in part, quote “I want everyone, especially the 12s, to know that I want to remain a Seahawk for the rest of my career but I also believe that based on my production over the last eight years that I have earned the right to have this taken care of as soon as possible. I want to have certainty in regards to the upcoming years of my career.”

As we know, he’s in the final year of his current deal, worth $8.5 million in base salary this season. There aren’t specific details about how much he wants, but considering his current deal was worth an average of $10 million a year, speculation and assumption would lead us to believe he’s seeking an extension worth anywhere from $13 million to $17 million a year. By missing mandatory mini camp this week, Earl would be subject to a fine of up to $84,000.

It’s safe to say that this could really get ugly. And I’m not about to take a side here, because I have too much respect for Earl and the Seahawks organization and understand both perspectives.

But what I will say is this: Earl Thomas was once a beneficiary of time and circumstance, and now is a victim of the same thing.

What do I mean by that? When Earl entered the league, he benefitted by two things: First, the timing of being drafted a year before the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, which limited how much teams could spend on rookies. To compare, Earl was the 14th overall pick and signed a five-year deal worth $18.3 million. The very next year, Robert Quinn was picked in the same exact spot, and signed a four-year deal worth just $9.4 million.

Earl also benefitted from the circumstance of being a centerpiece of a brand new era in Seahawks football – being just the second drafted player by Pete Carroll and John Schneider.

The question now is whether Earl should remain a centerpiece of an arguably “new era” of Seahawks football, and would it really be a cost-effective decision for this franchise?

Which brings me to the timing aspect of this deal. If we were talking about this just one year ago, I think re-signing Earl would’ve seemed like a no-brainer. But now we’ve all seen the ill-effects of signing both Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor to longterm extensions, and there’s no doubt that this organization is gun-shy about potentially hamstringing itself any further – and appropriately so!

This isn’t about this season. This is about the future. This is about a fresh start, and whether or not Earl Thomas fits into that plan.

I love Earl. I love his passion. I love his playmaking ability. I’d love to see him be a Seahawk for the rest of his career. But only if his value on the field is at least equal to what he’s being paid for the length of the deal – and not at the expense of this team forfeiting its chances to compete for championships down the line. That’s the incredibly difficult question that I can’t answer that needs to be answered.

Again, this isn’t personal. It’s business. And the timing and circumstances that were once in Earl Thomas’s favor are no longer the case.

I hope for a suitable compromise between both sides. But I have a feeling we’re a long way off – and a lot of sleepless nights for all parties involved, including the fans - from a proper resolution.

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