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.