Should The Seahawks Consider Trading Earl Thomas?

In my continuing series entitled:  To Blow Up The Seahawks Or Not To Blow Up The Seahawks, I’m taking a look today at Earl Thomas.  Recent comments he’s made – I guess dating back to the Dallas game? – indicate he’s not too thrilled with his current contract status, and is considering any and all options, up to and including playing for his hometown Cowboys someday (not technically his hometown, but you get the idea).  He’s also indicated that a holdout could be forthcoming if he’s not extended before Training Camp starts.

Thomas has 1 year remaining on his deal.  He’s set to count a little over $10 million against the cap.  He’ll be 28 years old.  He played ALMOST a full year in 2017 after having that devastating injury in 2016.  He appears to be back to normal, which is one of the best safeties in football.  And, as this figures to be his final major contract (before, I’m assuming, a slew of minor deals before he calls it a career), he’s gonna want to be paid like the best safeties in football.  Perhaps, even, the very best.

So, that’s what we’re confronted with:  a guy who’s getting up there, who’s had a couple serious injuries the last couple years, threatening a holdout, and likely to command a max deal (or close to it).

What do you do?

One option is to extend him.  Probably a 4-year deal on top of his 1 year remaining, with at least 3 of those years guaranteed (2018-2020) at a top-flight salary.  Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs is the guy everyone points to; he’s the highest paid safety in the game, making $40 million guaranteed, and averaging $13 million per season.  So, that’s the range we’re looking at, more or less.

Another option is to trade him.  That could be exceedingly tricky, because he’s already on record as planning to hold out if he’s not extended, and he’s also on record as saying he’d love nothing more than to play for the Cowboys (he’s also on record as saying he’d like to retire with the Seahawks, so long as they’re willing to pony up the cash, so take pretty much anything he says with at least a grain of salt, as all is fair in love and contract negotiations).  If it’s true that he’s favoring the Cowboys, that limits our trade partners down to pretty much that one team.  Something tells me, though, that money talks and he’d learn to love whatever team is willing to pay him the most.

A third option is to do nothing and call his bluff, but for me that’s not an option, that’s a death sentence for the Seahawks’ 2018 season.  We all saw what Kam’s holdout did to this team in 2015; imagine that only 50 times worse because it’s Earl.

I’m really torn on the matter though, because I can see it both ways.  I wouldn’t mind extending him if the deal makes sense; I also wouldn’t mind trading him if the deal makes sense.  But, if you have to over-pay to keep him, or take pennies on the dollar to trade him, then fuck all of that.  Any way you slice it, there’s risk.  If you extend him and he has a major neck injury a la Kam and Avril, then you’ve effectively handcuffed this franchise.  If you trade him, you’re all but guaranteed to be less effective at the position in 2018, with no real guarantee that the draft pick you get in return will be a capable player in the NFL.

If I had to lean one way, I’d lean toward figuring out if there’s a trade partner that makes sense.  But, I’m only willing to trade him if I get fair value in return.  I doubt the Seahawks will be able to land a high first round pick (if they did, I’d trade him in a heartbeat).  Seems more likely that he’s worth a second rounder, and maybe a swap of lower-round picks or something.  If it was a second rounder near the top of the round, with maybe a nice kicker of a fourth rounder or early fifth rounder … I dunno.  I’d think about it.  Getting a high second rounder from someone means this team isn’t forced into trading its first round pick, and I would love nothing more than for the Seahawks to stay at 18 and get the best player available, regardless of position (but, ideally, running back or safety, if they’re true studs).

But, you know, I’m not super gung ho either way.  Keep Earl or don’t, as long as whatever we decide is in the best interest of not just 2018, but going forward.  Frankly, I don’t want to see this team continuing to mortgage the future for these ill-advised Win Now propositions.  They pretty much never work out, and you just leave your franchise in worse shape for the future.

Seattle Seahawks Extend Earl Thomas

You hear that?  That’s the sound of 31 other teams banging their heads against the wall in frustration over losing out on a chance to sign the best free safety in the game after the 2014 season.  I don’t care WHO these other teams have at that position, deep down in their hearts, every single team would rather have Earl Thomas manning that position.

4 years, $40 million.  The benchmark for all safety contracts in the history of the NFL.  Earl Thomas may or may not be the greatest of all time, but he’s certainly being paid like he is.

A lot of people like to doubt the Seahawks.  Truth be told, we’re unconventional in the way we build our team.  We took a too-short quarterback in the third round and gave him a legitimate shot to win the starting job … and then he went out and won it!  We took a troubled running back off of Buffalo’s hands and watched him blossom into one of the best two or three running backs in the game.  We dedicated our whole offensive scheme around running the ball, controlling the clock, and limiting turnovers in an era that’s evolving rapidly into a pass-first, Arena League-type system.  We built the best defense in the game largely around players most other teams either didn’t want, or undervalued.

Take a look at that last statement again, and think about the players who’ve made the biggest impact in the last few years:

  • Chris Clemons was received in trade for an underwhelming lineman, after the Eagles gave up on him
  • Bobby Wagner was a second round pick from a small school
  • Kam Chancellor & Richard Sherman were both fifth round picks, deemed too big & too slow to play their respective positions
  • K.J. Wright was a fourth rounder; Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was a seventh rounder
  • The Seahawks were killed for drafting Bruce Irvin in the first round; he went on to lead all rookies in sacks before converting to strong-side linebacker
  • Red Bryant was a defensive tackle converted to 5-technique defensive end

Hell, even Earl Thomas – a first rounder – wasn’t the first safety taken in that draft class!  I don’t think anyone doubted Earl’s abilities to be a potentially elite safety, but the vast majority agreed with the Chiefs in their opinion that Eric Berry was the cream of that draft class at the position.

Oh yes, even the Chiefs would rather have Earl Thomas right about now.

People doubting the Seahawks didn’t just stop with the defense.  We were doubted by the public at large in the Super Bowl; there was NO WAY we’d hold the greatest offense of all time down for very long!  And, then, when we did, the argument shifted to:  there’s NO WAY the Seahawks will be a dynasty.

It’s too difficult!  They’ll lose too many players.  THERE’S NO WAY THE SEAHAWKS WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP ALL THEIR ELITE STARS!

Well, the first domino to fall is Earl Thomas.  Actually, the first domino was Michael Bennett, but from a national perspective, this extension dwarfs Bennett by a large margin.  This offseason saw an increase in the NFL salary cap, which in turn saw a lot of teams go hog-wild with their spending.  As expected, the Seahawks were up against it a little bit, which is why we had to let guys like Clemons & Bryant go (ditto Sidney Rice, who we eventually re-signed to a much friendlier deal).  That opened up miles of cap room we could have used to sign any number of free agents out on the market.  However, we stayed strong and held firm to our convictions; we had a plan:

  • Extend Earl Thomas
  • Extend Richard Sherman
  • Set things up so we’re able to extend Russell Wilson next year
  • Hopefully have enough room to extend one or more of our quality linebackers next year

Now, if we could do all of that AND sign someone like Jared Allen for a song, more power to us.  It didn’t work out that way, and that’s okay.  We’re still set up well to achieve all of our personnel goals.  The Seahawks ARE going to extend Richard Sherman, they ARE going to keep Russell Wilson long term.  And it’s NOT going to cripple us financially.

With future rises in salary cap, it’ll help mitigate some of the additional cost.  In addition, you’re talking about one of the smarter front offices in the league; we’ll find a way to fill out this roster with quality players on the cheap at other positions.  Maybe that means restructuring or cutting ties with Marshawn Lynch after this year.  Maybe that means finding Russell Okung’s replacement sooner rather than later.  Maybe that means replenishing the linebacking corps via the draft every few years.

As it stands, there are no bad deals on this roster right now.  The only thing that comes close is Percy Harvin, but we still have an out with him after another couple seasons.  Cap Hell isn’t in this franchise’s vocabulary.  By this time next year, we’re going to have the highest paid safety, the highest paid cornerback, one of the top five highest paid quarterbacks, and one of the top five highest paid wide receivers … AND WE’RE STILL GOING TO BE ONE OF THE BEST TEAMS IN FOOTBALL!

This isn’t the Dallas Cowboys.  This isn’t the Washington Redskins.  We’re talking about the elite of the elite.  In that realm with the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, and Baltimore Ravens.  Where their down years still find them at .500 and their great years find them as champions.

Russell Wilson is the key to the whole thing, but if he’s #1a, Earl Thomas is #1b.  Earl Thomas makes this defense go.  He’s the leader, the heart, the soul of this team.  He makes everyone around him better, and that’s exactly what you expect out of someone making the most money at his position.  It’s not about the numbers with Earl, it’s about the W.  Don’t count the interceptions, don’t add up the points allowed as a unit; just count up the wins.  THAT’S where you find Earl’s value.  THAT’S what makes him worth every penny.

Oh yeah, and a week from tomorrow, he’ll be turning 25.  Best safety in football AND he’s got another decade-plus to go.  You know you want it …

#3 – Earl Thomas

To see the full list of the 20 best Seahawks in 2012, click here.

Earl Thomas might not be the best safety in the NFL.  Then again, he might.

The raw numbers do not necessarily paint the full picture of what Earl Thomas brings to the table.  Fourth on the team in tackles, tied for second on the team with 3 interceptions, alone on the team in second in passes defended, with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown to his credit in 2012.  But, he’s so much more than just those stats alone.  He’s the anchor to this defense – and especially this secondary – that lets other guys do what they do best.  Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are both top-notch, physical cornerbacks.  But, would they be able to do what they do (and do it as well) without Earl Thomas in centerfield?

If Richard Sherman is “Optimus Prime,” then I’m going to lobby that we start calling Earl Thomas “Batman.”  He is EVERYWHERE at once!  He’s on top of you before you even have time to react!  He only reveals himself at the last second, when he swoops in to save the day.  How many quarterbacks are baited into throwing down field, only to find Batman swinging in to knock the ball down?  How many balls fall helplessly to the ground thanks to the sheer force of Batman’s hits?  How many times are running backs and running quarterbacks stopped in their tracks as Batman pounds them into submission?

Earl Thomas was an All Pro in 2012.  For some reason, that had previously slipped my mind and I was going to come on here and rail against the Associated Press, but then I double-checked and lo and behold, there he is!  2012 was his third season in the NFL.  He was the second safety taken in the 2010 draft, behind Kansas City’s Eric Berry.  Berry was always going to be the guy we compared Thomas to because both were so highly touted.  Thomas was picked 9 spots after Berry, yet both have had their share of success.  Still, Berry lost all of 2011 to an ACL injury, and I don’t see that he’s been an All Pro (just a couple of Pro Bowl selections).  When you factor all of that in, plus the fact that Thomas’ rookie contract was worth about $40 million less (Berry being the highest-paid Safety in football at the time of his deal, at 6 years, $60 mil), there is no doubt in my mind that the Seahawks got the better deal.  Of course, when Thomas’ contract expires and it’s time to renew, I think there will be a new leader for highest-paid safety in football.

There’s no reason to expect anything less than his All Pro level of play going into 2013.  What’s truly frightening is that, since it’ll be his fourth year, odds are he’s going to continue to get BETTER.  Opposing receivers should be shitting their pants when they see the Seahawks on the schedule.

Twenty Ten Round One: O-KUNG!!!

Hope you enjoyed round 1, Seahawks fans, because rounds 2 and 3 have a combined ONE pick for the home team. Of course, unless we Trade Down, but considering we merely have the 60th pick to work with, I SERIOUSLY doubt we’ll be able to work our way into the 3rd Round while also making a pick in the 2nd round.

As for the weekend, we’ve got two 4th Rounders, two 5th Rounders, a 6th and a 7th. In the next 2 days, we’ll need to get D-Line help, maybe another cornerback, a wide receiver, a running back, maybe a 3rd string quarterback, maybe another O-lineman, and certainly some Special Teamers (I’d like to see a low-round linebacker to replace Lance Laury, but that’s neither here nor there).

Obviously, we’re not here to talk about that party & bullshit. We’re here to talk about Okung! O-KUNG! Get a load of the pancakes on THAT guy!

I find that watching the NFL Draft is a lot more entertaining if the only thing you compare players by is how many pancakes they show on the highlight reels. Oh really? You took Eric Berry from us? Well, did he PANCAKE anybody? I don’t think so; HE SUCKS!

For the record, my boy O-KUNG pancaked a HELLUVA lot more guys than both of the San Francisco-drafted linemen combined.

So, what’s the skinny on O-KUNG? 6-5, 307, long arms, mobile, and starting immediately at Left Tackle for YOUR Seattle Seahawks. Walter Jones retired? Problem solved: O-KUNG!!! I feel like we need a giant gong to be hit every time his name is announced.

We’re also here to talk about Earl Thomas – who, I’ll admit, doesn’t have nearly as cool of a name. Nevertheless, doesn’t “Earl Thomas” just sound like a guy who’d be good at playing football? Like a combo of Earl Campbell and Derrick Thomas.

The only thing I remember about Earl Thomas in doing my “research” over the last weeks and months is that he wasn’t as good as this guy from Tennessee, but everyone had him rated higher than Taylor Mays (who was presented as a bruiser of the Ken Hamlin variety). The ESPN douchebags (seriously, does Steve Young ever shut the hell up?) likened Eric Berry to Ed Reed … but they likened Earl Thomas to Bob Sanders. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ll TAKE a Bob Sanders! I’ll take a Bob Sanders with a side of gravy!

With Kansas City virtually making our pick for us – as I have a feeling if they would’ve taken O-KUNG, we would’ve waited on our Left Tackle need and either gone with Berry or traded down – this first round was a slam dunk. I got a little nervous when Philly traded to jump ahead of us in the draft, as all the ESPN guys were convinced they were going with Thomas. Instead they took some linebacker/end. I have a feeling we never had any intention of drafting that Defensive End from Georgia Tech, so that probably would’ve been a prime time to trade down.

BUT, whatever. We got our guys, we filled two needs, and we got two NFL-ready starters who will hopefully be going to Pro Bowls and leading us to championships in no time.

After what I deemed to be a shakey-at-best beginning for Pete Carroll and John Schneider, they proved in the first round of their first NFL draft together that they know what the fuck they’re doing.

They went the sensible route in picking O-KUNG, and they went even more sensible in picking E.T. I can’t wait to see what they do for an encore.

In other Draft News:

I was surprised to see C.J. Spiller go in the top 10. I was even more surprised to see him go to the Bills. Not for nothin’, but I heard rumors that the Bills are shopping Marshawn Lynch, and even MORE rumors that the Seahawks might have interest. I gotta say, that’s not the worst thing I’ve ever heard, but I certainly wouldn’t overpay (especially now that they’ve got a logjam and are probably desperate to unload), because I think we can get a runner in the draft just as easily.

In “What The FUCK Are The Raiders THINKING?” news … what the FUCK are the Raiders THINKING? I don’t want to sound like I’m siding with the consensus just to fit in or sound like I know what I’m talking about, but Christ! You should’ve taken Clausen! Give up on Jamarcus Russell, he’s a bust already! Even the rookiest of rookie quarterbacks manage to post better quarterback ratings than he’s done in his, what, third? fourth year? You certainly DON’T take an inside linebacker at 9! The more I think about it, the more I think you should probably NEVER pick a linebacker in the first round. Taking Tatupu into account, not to mention David Hawthorne who wasn’t even drafted and filled in admirably when Tatupu went down, not to mention all the other teams with all those other lowly-picked linebackers … I think the track record has been proven. For every Lawrence Taylor picked high, there are tons of Good-Enough linebackers taken with much lower picks.

With all his heart, Tim Tebow is going to suck a lot of dick and do whatever his coaches ask of him with all his heart.

Clausen & McCoy. No soup for you! Did I really just see that? Are teams finally starting to wisen up to these Not Ready For Primetime Players in lieu of guys who will actually produce? I know they won’t fall forever, but I hope they sweat just a little bit longer as the chickenfuckers that they are. Tired of loser quarterbacks commanding a premium price for either riding the pine or throwing interceptions in football games. Says a lot about their level of skill, when you have all these teams with all these quarterback issues. Of course, if either one of them turns into an All Star, then that team will have gotten the steal of the draft, bar none.

Today Is The Greatest / Day I’ve Ever Known (in the 2009 NFL season)

(I had this title and intro all thought out in my head last night just before I went to sleep … go with it)

Every team has a Best Day in an NFL season. For some, it’s the day they clinch their division title, for others it’s the day they clinch a wildcard spot. For a few, it’s a playoff victory, and for fewer still it’s reaching a conference title game or even the Super Bowl. And for 1 lucky team out of a possible 32, the best day in your season will be the day you win the Super Bowl, followed by the celebratory parade shortly after (followed by, if you live in New Orleans, the bender of all benders as Mardi Gras slides into full swing).

For all the losers out there, those who’ve been out of the race since October, those who suffered through injuries and mediocrity and GMs being fired and Head Coaches being fired and Steve Spurrier Urban Meyer Butch Davis Dennis Erickson Pete Carroll being hired and Charlie Whitehurst being annointed as The Future Of The Franchise armed solely with the track record of being a 3rd stringer for San Diego … the best day of the 2009 season doesn’t even happen IN 2009.

It happens today, at 4:30pm PDT, when the NFL – for the first time ever – enters the Thursday Primetime lineup for Round 1 of the 2010 Draft.

I for one can’t wait. Will they go Offensive Tackle/Defensive End like a sensible team? Will they go Offensive Tackle/Running Back in hopes to energize a lackluster fanbase? Will they go Safety/Running Back so Matt Hasselbeck gets killed for yet another season behind a string-cheese offensive line? Will they trade for Ben Roethlisberger and completely alienate every last living and breathing Seahawks fan?

I’m, like, 97% sure that would never happen, but I wouldn’t put it past them. I’m pretty sure the Seahawks could sign Clayton Bennett to play quarterback and the fans would prefer it to Ben Roethlisberger. Just imagine what a pick-me-up he’d be for our offense after the 6-game suspension! We already know he can take a sack! He’d be PERFECT for this offensive line!

All right, calm down, let’s not go crazy.

In reality, the Seahawks SHOULD go OT/DE with the 6th and 14th pick. No trades, no funny stuff. Of course, a part of me REALLY wants Eric Berry as our starting safety for the next decade. That same part of me wants that Clemson running back handling our kickoffs and being a home run threat on offense for 15 plays a game. But, that part of me is FOOLISH, and needs to look at the bigger picture. I know this. But still …

The only way I’m going to be REALLY upset is if we draft a quarterback like Clausen, Tebow, or McCoy. Because what was all that Whitehurst bullshit about? I’ll be less upset, but still kinda peeved, if we end up trading down a bunch. Unless we’re getting back into the 3rd round or moving up in the 2nd round, I don’t see the point in compiling a bunch of 4th rounders or later. Those guys almost NEVER pan out.

Other than that, I’m all good. Let’s go, Seahawks. Let’s enjoy the best day of the 2009 season.

The Reunion Of The Seahawks & Incompetency

Shit man, we’re like 3 weeks away from the NFL Draft. I’m finished speculating about what we might do in the first round though. At this point, I’m fully prepared to give up on this season.

To be more specific: I’m fully prepared to give up on even winning FIVE GAMES this season. At this point, I just want the Seahawks to draft Eric Berry 6 and C.J. Spiller 14 and call it a day. Because surely my hair-brained notion of drafting OL and QB is going right out the window thanks to Charlie Whitehurst and our offensive line coach. Bah!

Here, read THIS. It explains a lot about the relationship between me and the Seahawks. Those years with Mike Holmgren aside.

See, it always felt like Mike Holmgren had a plan, you know? He had his offensive system – a proven system that produced winners in San Francisco and Green Bay – and he had a knack for finding not only Quarterback talent, but coaching talent put in place around him to help out in all those areas he didn’t have time for. I mean, just LOOK at all the head coaches who used to work for the man! That’s a direct result of a man with a good head on his shoulders.

Did all of Holmgren’s moves pan out? Of course not. Nobody has a perfect track record of drafting and bringing in free agents. Lamar King comes immediately to mind, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, he won more games than he lost, he gave the Seahawks their best chance to win a Super Bowl EVER, and that’s saying a lot because before he got here this was a franchise in total disarray.

It appears the disarray has returned with a vengeance.

In that article I linked to above, Art Thiel introduces us to Andre Hines, for those of us who aren’t old enough to remember. I quote:

“Longtime Seahawks fans may recall that Hines was an offensive tackle from Stanford the Seahawks took with a second-round pick in the 1980 draft. Problem was, the Seahawks actually wanted his teammate, Brian Holloway, an All-America selection.”

See, this is the kind of crap we all have to put up with as Seahawks fans! These are the kinds of blunders the Pittsburgh Steelers never make! They don’t have any Brian Bosworth’s on their resume. They’ve never taken a running quarterback from Notre Dame with the Number 2 overall pick. They haven’t botched anything even remotely resembling the Steve Hutchinson debacle.

And, as far as I know, they’ve never swapped 2nd round picks, given away a 4th rounder, and handed over $8 million all in acquiring a 3rd string quarterback whose biggest accomplishment is losing three turnovers to the Seahawks B-Squad defense in a preseason game last year.

This is the sort of move the Seahawks did all the time before Mike Holmgren got here. I had hoped he might have broken the curse, but let’s face it, even Holmgren couldn’t fix the bad juju hanging over this organization. Hell, the Seahawks were doing dumb shit like this even when he was still head coach (see: making Jim Mora the successor before Holmgren had even declared his resignation).

Look, I’m more than willing to give Pete Carroll and John Schneider a chance. I have to, I don’t have any other option. Just don’t piss in my coffee maker and call it Taster’s Choice, all right? I see what you’re doing here. It’s all over your faces.

Even if the price is exorbitant, I understand going after Charlie Whitehurst. A team needs a quarterback of the future, and this guy has the same chance to be a Great Success as any douche we’d draft this year. Likewise, we aren’t getting Sam Bradford and we’re unlikely to get that Notre Dame guy (the consensus 2nd best quarterback in this draft), so I’m sure Whitehurst projects as being better (and more ready) than anyone else in this year’s draft. Since it’s all a crapshoot anyway, why not give it a shot?

It appears we’re setting the table for this year’s draft by what we’ve done so far in free agency. By giving away all the crap we don’t want (Deon Grant, Darryl Tapp, Cory Redding, Nate Burleson, Rob Sims … any day now) I now believe we won’t be as conservative as I once imagined.

If we don’t trade down in the first round – maybe to re-acquire a 3rd round pick – then I’m pretty sure we WILL get Eric Berry with our #6. Leaving our #14 as either C.J. Spiller or Best Defensive End Available (I’d put money on the latter). 2nd Round pick will likely be an offensive lineman that “fits the zone blocking scheme”.

Of course, that’s just what fits under my Common Sense ideal of what the Seahawks will do. Nothing they’ve done this offseason, however, has coincided with Common Sense, so who the fuck knows what’s going to happen?

One thing’s for certain: don’t be shocked if we end up 2-14 next year. We play the NFC South (Saints, Falcons, Bucs, Panthers) and the AFC West (Chargers, Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders); as well as the Giants and the Bears (both either better than us last year and/or much improved in their offseason moves). I could see us losing to pretty much all the teams on our schedule except the Rams; and you never know what could happen on the road.

Like I said, I see what they’re doing here. They’re setting the team up for a top draft choice in 2011. Jake Locker, baby. Jake Locker.