The issue with Earl Thomas’ trade demands

Yesterday Earl Thomas played his latest card, demanding an extension or trade via Instagram (how very 2018).

Fans have since been debating the merits of paying Thomas or trading him. Most, it seems, want to see a conclusion one way or another.

There’s something fundamentally wrong with Thomas’ demand though.

The Seahawks have seemingly been willing to trade Earl for months. Thus we endured the slow dance into the draft with Dallas.

They’ve already granted his wish. They don’t want to extend his contract so they’re open to dealing him. And nobody took the bait.

Maybe his next Instagram post should be aimed at the Cowboys?

‘Make a reasonable trade offer and let’s finally get this done’

If Dallas is only willing to offer a day three pick (for example, a fourth) for a player they know will be a free agent in a matter of months, should the Seahawks just gift Earl Thomas to a NFC rival? Of course not. There has to be something in it for them. Otherwise, they might as well just wait it out and see what kind of comp pick they get in the future.

It’s very easy to just say ‘pay him or trade him’. Not paying him is clearly an attempt to learn a lesson from the Kam Chancellor, Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett third contracts. Thomas, after all, threatened to retire just over 18 months ago. He’s missed seven games in the last two seasons. Surely most will understand Seattle’s conservative approach, even if you’d prefer to extend his deal?

‘Just trade him’ comes down to a team making a fair offer. The Seahawks can’t force Dallas to offer a second or third round pick. Seattle paid a second rounder for Sheldon Richardson and a 2+3 for Duane Brown. You can’t blame them for wanting a similar offer for a better player.

So it’s time for Thomas to aim his frustration at the team he wants to join, not the team currently willing to use him in 2018. The Dallas Cowboys are the reason there hasn’t been a conclusion to this saga.

The moment they offer a fair deal, this gets done.

What are they waiting for?

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  1. David Palfenier

    Everything’s gone wrong for Earl’s strategies:

    – He’s heading into his 30’s
    – The safety position has clearly been devalued. Berry may have gotten that big contract two yrs ago but today he’d not get close to that
    – Relatedly, no one offered anything meaningful for him during the draft. \
    – Also relatedly, this year’s safety franchise tag is $11.2m and next year’s will almost certainly be lower still.
    – Unfortunately for Earl, Kam’s injury happened. If Seattle was reluctant to give guarantees to older players before, for sure they’re gun shy now
    – Speaking of Kam, arguably as important to Seattle’s secondary as Earl, he held out and it didn’t work. Did get a contract but on Seattle’s traditional timetable. Hard to see why it’d be any different now for Earl
    – The more he yaps about his contract demands, the less likely it is someone will trade for him. He’s been too vocal about the dollars and guarantees he wants, every time he restates it, he scares suitors away. Especially the Cowboys who are cap-strapped.
    – The new CBA is about to be negotiated. Schneider definitely is trying to minimize his long-term contracts till he knows what the new rules are. Bad time to be looking for multi-year/heavy guarantee contracts
    – He’s been so disgruntled that for the first time, he risks being viewed as a locker room problem.
    – His colleague Mr. Sherman isn’t helping him much, says things that add to the general uncertainty now surrounding him
    – Seattle seems ready to turn the page, for good or for bad. Bedrock Seahawks like Bennett gone, Sherman gone, Cable gone, Bevell gone, Richards gone, Haushka gone, Kearse gone, Ryan soon, etc. Graham and Richardson not bedrock but big commitments retracted, moving on.

    Sure seems like Earl should rethink his strategy, if he still can. Play out his contract in All-Pro style and take his chances on the tag or free agency. Show he’s a leader and give comfort to whoever his new team is going to be. Current strategy ain’t working, makes no sense to keep beating this particular drum.

    • Ukhawk

      Very well put

    • rugbylock

      Very well said. Can’t disagree. I hope they work something out.

  2. Saxon

    100% correct. Thomas killed his own trade value with his shenanigans. Other teams that might have dealt for him know he is a headcase whom only wants to play for the Cowboys. Meanwhile his love for Dallas is unrequited since they won’t even offer a 3rd for his HOF talents. He had genuine love from Hawks fans and coaches now he is a man without a country and probably without a team for 2018. I sincerely hope we suspend him and create a precedent. Idiot, selfish behavior should not be rewarded.

    • joel

      I’m not sure what’s gained from “suspending” him (freeing up a roster spot)? It’s ugly politics to play that sort of hardball with any player, especially a player as well known and respected as Earl is. You do yourself no real favors in future negotiations with such an aggressive stance. If Earl holds out and sits this season, he loses quit a bit of money and makes himself even less attractive to other teams. So let Earl do what Earl decides to do, and he can pay the consequences himself. No need for JS and PC to look like vindictive bad guys.

      • Saxon

        Three options:

        1) Trade him for below market value.
        2) Sign him to large new contract.
        3) Let him hold out until he is forced by the CBA to report and then add a disgruntled player to your locker room.

        Options 1 and 2 are unlikely. Option 3 is very likely at this stage. If it materializes do you want him polluting the younger players once he returns? I use the word ‘pollute’ advisedly because Thomas was disloyal and remains so. He continues to use his Instagram to display his preference for another team. So letting someone like that into your locker room is sending a message to the younger players. Pete wants guys to be “All In”. Thomas presence contends with that philosophy in multiple ways. He should never wear the blue and green again.

        • Rob Staton

          The atmosphere will be equally polluted if they give in to Earl’s demands and trade him for peanuts. It’ll send a message to Frank Clark and a lot of other players. Basically, if you’re unhappy with you’re deal — do what Earl did and you’ll get what you want.

          • Brashmouse

            Agree Rob, to pile on Marshawn and Kam both chose to pollute the waters by their retirement actions effectively showing bad faith on the 3rd contracts and creating a pattern that Seattle desparately needs to break in the mindset of the players and agents.

            Earl has zero leverage and has with his public statement of expectations put himself in the same boat as Leveon Bell. Both players will never get what they want for annual pay as the market is so far below it that the franchise tag over multiple years still doesn’t cost as much. Both players also have an anticipated lifespan in the 2-4 year range based on historical decline at the position.

            The 2020 cap numbers are expected to be lower across the board and as such all contracts will shrink further. In Earls case this means that Seattle can pay him 10M this year, 10.5M next year 12.6M in 2020 and then decide if they want to pay what he is asking for in year 2021 which would cost them 15.12M when he is entering his last year before historical decline and if the have an alternative or he is not the missing piece for a SUperbowl run that year let him test the market which will be less than $10M/year for the best in the business at the position at that point.

            • Saxon

              Exactly, Rob. I’ve made that point a few times. We set a bad precedent trading him and create what is known as moral hazard in business, since others will follow Earl’s strategy. I really want the FO to suspend him.

      • neil

        Who cares if it’s ugly ? It’s a bizz just as he says,. nothing personal.

  3. Uncle Bob

    It’s probably typical human “oh woe is me…..”, but a guy who earns $40 mil in 4 years is hardly an underdog, not to mention all the public admiration he’s earned.

    You’re spot on as usual Rob with the point that the trade offer has been on the table for quite awhile with only the one feint by Dallas at draft time (that we know of). Like it or not, the safety market is just flat out flat right now. I’ll stick by my speculation that given that market pricing (except for Berry), demand, and the best guess comp formulation, the most likely comp pick if he plays out the contract is a 4th rounder. JS can probably figure that out too so is biding his time. Perhaps the team’s best hope is that an early season (or pre) injury will open up some additional interest in a trade at a better offer than they’ve had so far, or than the projected comp.

    • Rob Staton

      IMO it’s all about Dallas determining they want to go into this season with Earl, giving themselves the best possible chance to succeed, versus waiting until the off-season. Because they’ll know they’re in the driving seat for him in free agency. So how badly do they want him now? I get why that’s a toughie for Dallas. You never want to give away decent draft stock, especially when you can wait it out.

      But that’s why Earl’s IG post is misguided. He can complain at Seattle all he wants. He should aim his angst at Dallas instead. They’re the ones not willing to pony up now. They’re waiting you out Earl. They don’t want to pay you now and give up a high draft pick. Simple.

      • Georgia Hawk

        That seems to say they don’t want him as badly as he wants them. Whats to stop them from low balling him in FA knowing full well he wants to play there more than anything?

        • Rob Staton

          I think if he reaches free agency he’ll be in for a shock. The safety market is ice cold.

          • Georgia Hawk

            100% agreed. The fact that starting caliber Safties are still on the market should tell him an awful lot.

            • Uncle Bob

              Earl’s eccentric (not stupid or crazy) note the outfit he chose to be married in. He’s also likely a bit narcissistic which is where the “underdog” whine comes from. Those two traits won’t allow him to be rational in assessing the current market conditions. In his mind he’s above those rules/standards/circumstances that apply to mere mortal safeties. If he ends up staying for whatever time with the Hawks he’s also probably forfeited any leadership cred. Sad, sad ending……..

          • Coug1990

            Yes, he will be in for a shock. He may ultimately end up in Dallas, but not for the money he wants. I think I remember reading that Dallas does not have much cap space. I doubt next season that Dallas is the highest bidder for his services.

  4. Pedestrian

    This is the kind of thing that bugs me. Earl didn’t help us or himself with his “come get me” statement nor is he now. He has clearly become part of the problem rather the solution.

    I’d still like to see him traded to Texans even if it’s only for a 4th. They have the cap room, earl shouldn’t cry about being on the ‘other’ Texas team, and is out of NFC. Plus I really don’t want to see cowboys win this standoff. If Dallas got him for anything less than a 2nd (2019 1st really is 2nd and would be fair, but don’t think we get it), or waited it out in free agency would be a total win for them and loss for Seahawks. I understand we’d get a third rounder in 2020, but really is that a win for us? : /

  5. AlaskaHawk

    There is still a possibility that a strong team loses their safety in early season, and starts looking for a sub that would keep them in the hunt for the superbowl.

    All the things working against Earl Thomas getting a high salary now will still be in play a year from now. My gut feeling is that a lot of teams loaded up on safeties in the draft over the last few years. That might be the reason the market is so soft now.

    • Rob Staton

      I don’t think teams see the safety position as that vital. Thus, why the market has gone flat.

      • DJ 1/2 Way (Sea/PDX)

        Agree. His greatest value is to the Seahawks or another team that uses a similar scheme. Remember when he said that he was the reason they could get away with 5th round picks at cornerback? He has a chance this year to show he was the real anchor of the LOB.

        I would hold on to his rights and give him the franchise tag for a year or two if he keeps healthy and performing. As his speed declines his experience and instincts may still allow this defense to work. Keeping a home grown first ballot Hall of Famer is preferred. Earl is breaking my heart and, like Sherman, “talking” his way out of town. Is it ever better for a player like him to go to another team? Who has changed teams at this age and continued to be an All Pro?

        • Hawktalker#1

          Great post – I am 100% in agreement with it. Let him sit if he wants, but don’t take a crap trade or overpay an extension in an icy market. If I did anything, it would be offer him a small incremental amount in a new 1-2 year deal that would get him around what the franchise tag money would be. Doubt he’d like that as it wouldn’t amount to a lot, but it’s a small concession that wouldn’t ruin future talks that will be needed with Clark and others about extensions.

  6. Ty the Guy

    Earl Thomas is a legend. He still allows our Cover 3 scheme to function the way it is designed. He allows our corners and linebackers to play freely. He will be very difficult (if not impossible) to replace.

    That being said, Rob is spot on. If the Cowboys wanted him bad enough, they’d have him. The closer the season gets, the more pressure will be on them or another team to step their offer up. The only way this turns into a “lose-lose” situation, is if Earl sits out games. He may have the conviction (be crazy enough?) to do that, but probably not.

    Prediction: Earl Thomas is the starting FS for Seattle in 2018. In Dallas at a discount in 2019.

  7. EranUngar

    It is really puzzling that Earl makes his stand when everything is stacked against him. If its “just business”, he should have someone in his corner to advice him not to paint himself into a corner.

    With the Seahawks’ cap space for next year, the comp pick we’ll get after Earl leaves will be similar to the comp picks we’ll get after Graham/PRich/Richardson left this year…NOTHING…

    • Rob Staton

      Probably so.

      But the Seahawks don’t seem inclined to just take whatever terrible deal Dallas or anyone else is willing to offer. And more power to them for that IMO. Thomas is under contract and if Seattle wishes, they can franchise him next year. Rather than complain at Seattle he should be questioning why Dallas hasn’t stepped up to the plate.

  8. smitty1547

    I hope the hawks wait until he’s an old man before they let him in the ring of honor, it would be never if I had my way.

    • rugbylock

      Over this tiff you’d not want to put Earl in the ring of honor? Seems pretty petty to me. He’s arguably one of the greatest hawks ever.

      • Hawktalker#1

        Agreed. Great player, just in a bad situation that is making the Seahawks uneasy. IMO doesn’t spoil the greatness of his history and his ability to get into the LOB. Sometimes it’s even hard to say if it’s him talking, or Sherm talking through him. Sherm is sure one guy that I lose more respect for on a daily basis. Just shut up and keep whatever respect you have left. Not a bad philosophy in general.

      • smitty1547

        I’m not going to disagree it is petty, however ring of honor is special and should mean so much more than just what is done on the field. If you can not appreciate a SB win, being the highest paid safety in game (he was when he signed) and playing in front of the 12’s, then I do not think he is worthy. If you go out a petulant child go riddance.

  9. JimQ

    IMO-The best option for ET is ignore him completely and if and when he comes into camp, make him compete for the position he thinks he unquestionably owns. If he wins the job fine, he’s being paid plenty already but in any event, retirement may end up being ET’s best option unless the Seahawks can convince Cleveland to give them say a mid-round pick. ET should really love playing in Cleveland because it’s closer to Texas than Seattle. Shape up or ship out seems to be the new Seahawks mantra & it’s maybe about time. I think PC is very serious about “reconfiguring” his team this year & the days of accommodating players wishes for a trade partner should be over, get what you can from whoever you can and move on already. I have to ask myself, what would the Patriots do with ET?

    IMO-PC needs to apply a lot more discipline & accountability to both coaches and players on his team in order to have optimum success. Every garden needs weeding from time to time and you usually start the weeding process with the big and ugly ones taken out first.

  10. Eric R

    Maybe Dallas is hanging on to their remaining cap space through training camp to see what needs rise up / injuries happen. If all goes well then they do the deal for Thomas.

  11. H

    This nonsense is getting tiring. I love Earl and I want him to remain a Hawk, but at this point I just want this resolved, wouldn’t even be that upset at taking a poor trade deal.

    Training camp can’t come soon enough, let the new era begin.

    • Kenny Sloth

      I’d rather sit him on my bench than take a less-than deal.

      I’ll eat that cap and get the comp pick 10/10 times.

      • Troy

        Just want to point out if he sits, the Hawks make the money back that they would have paid him.

      • Troy

        If he sits on the bench, the hawks actually recoup the money that he would have earned, so it actually benefits their cap if he sits.

  12. Lewis

    Rob, I had almost the exact same thought when I saw what Earl said: “Shouldn’t he be annoyed that the Cowboys don’t think he’s worth very much?” And if I’m Dallas, there’s no way I’m trading for him without having an extension in place. And to the best of my knowledge, they don’t have a ton of money to work with when you take into account some of their other players needing new deals. I’d like to be a fly on the wall when they offer to extend him at well under what he thinks he is worth (part of that being because of the market being soft, not because he isn’t great).

  13. Edgar

    I’d like to see the Seahawks close the door on bending over for their exiting players. Sherman was released very early on so he could sign where ever he wanted. They asked Bennett to pick between NE and Phil. Kam was extended and never played a down on his new contract but gets 2 extra years of pay. Lynch was given multi million dollar parting good will gift. They gotta sit on Earl and stop being pushed around.

  14. GeoffU

    Trade him to the Browns.

    • Pedestrian

      Not that easy. A team has to want him, and that is less likely so if the player is asking for top dollar/is whinning about their contract/is stating the team they want to play for. Would you want a player that sounds like that description on your team?

      A Texas team that will pay him close to what he wants is likely the only viable option. Sure the chargers could step in, but it’s harder to do because he’s already expressed, several times, how badly he wants to go to one team. So you’d probably have to pony up a little more money than the Cowboys to make him happy.

      • rugbylock

        I think Houston might be a more realistic destination than Dallas.

  15. Gohawks5151

    I get his frustration. He is the best in the NFL of a position group that has fallen off a cliff in value. Other teammates with 3rd contracts have gotten hurt making the management gun shy on him getting hurt. It should be noted that besides the hammy pull this year the only reason he got hurt was due to friendly fire at the hands of Kam. Injury is not a trend here as much as people make it out to be. I get him not wanting to devalue himself as a HOF type guy.The media has made the exhausting with the same old story re-posted again as new. Personally I don’t overreact to him playing his cards anymore than i do the management. It will all shake out in camp. My guess is he is still a Seahawk this year with a 50/50 chance to be here after.

    • glor

      He was the best in the NFL at his position. Is he still? That he needs to prove, and I would suspect that he is not. He seemed to have lost a step last year.

    • Hawk Eye

      just Earl being Earl. I am not going to panic, neither will John or Pete.
      Let the situation play out, he won’t miss the season, and he has to play well to get a big contract from someone.
      I find it hard to see them extending him to a contract that Earl will accept. I think they would want to give him a 3 year extension that is easy to get out of, and I think Earl wants “Berry money”.
      as Patrick Star so famously uttered “It appears we have reached an impasse”

      I don’t spend much time worrying about a millionaires’ issue with a billionaire. Life keeps me busy

  16. EP

    Wild trade scenario: NYG don’t fancy paying OBJ big bucks and lack in the cap space, they want to build around Barkley and Defence while they hunt for a new QB. Trade for Earl Thomas who they are willing to pay giving them the best safety duo in the league. Seahawks take OBJ and extend him with the space departed by Earl and others. Wilson has a real weapon for the foreseeable future. Saying this because Russ was working out with Odell and I was imagining him on the team.

    • JimQ

      EP; You could be on to something there. An unhappy player (ET) traded for another unhappy player (??) from another team that has a similar value/cost thus making the cap costs relatively equal. That option would allow both unhappy players to land on a different team, change of scenery and all of that.

      The question would then be what other unhappy player would fit best as a good roster replacement for ET(?). Other players like OBJ, for one, could maybe end up as a Seahawk. Player trades seem to be a lot less frequent than trading of draft picks, but it still may be a solid “possibility” for finally resolving the ET situation in a positive a manner for all concerned.

      To date, the Seahawks have had a for sale sign on ET’s back and nobody is biting, might be time for more innovative solutions. ET may want to be in Dallas, but he can’t really control that because he’s just a piece of meat for sale to the highest bidder at this point. A pretty sad demise of one of the best safeties ever, and one of my all time favorite Seahawks, but as they say, it’s a business after all is said and done.

      • Rob Staton

        Beckham is one of the ten best players in the league. To get this deal done, the Seahawks would need to be willing to break new ground in a WR contract and give up Earl plus probably early round picks.

        • smitty1547

          Trading one headache for another, although OBJ still appears to be hungry and pissed off for greatness and needs a SB win.

      • JimQ

        I agree Rob, OBJ would be nice, but VERY expensive to add, however, maybe there are a few other active players out there that would be an effective replacement for ET’s roster spot? I wouldn’t totally dismiss the idea of a player trade, perhaps with a later round draft pick thrown in for either side. It seems like a lot of teams are not willing to trade away their top draft picks for aging players these days, so it may be time to look at all of the other avenues of player acquisition. There is more than one way to skin a rabbit.

        • Rob Staton

          A decent young pass rusher would be a nice addition via trade.

  17. Greg Haugsven


  18. Greg haugsven


  19. Thy Hawk is Howling

    Here’s a Beautiful heart warming story to focus on instead of other negative or distracting dilemmas.

    Go Julianna!

    Go Hawks!

  20. Coleslaw

    As much as it pains me to say, I want New England to go after Earl. I would love to get the Detroit’s 3rd rounder from them or even better their second or Chicagos 2nd from them. We can sweeten the deal a bit with late rounders, or a player like Quinton Jefferson/ CJ Prosise.

  21. MyChestIsBeastMode

    I always see these options listed and only these options in regards to what to do with Earl Thomas:
    1. Extend him
    2. Trade him
    3. Let it ride and lose him next year for a comp pick.

    Is there not another option, especially given that the free safety market is cold (and cheap!)?

    4. Keep him (disgruntled but still all-pro caliber) and franchise him next year for a modest increase in pay from what he’s currently getting paid. And do it again the following season. Milk his talent for all it’s worth.

    Normally, I’d say this is a dickish maneuver, but when negotiating you’ve got either the carrot or the stick. Given that Earl has broken trust a few times now, I’d say it’s time for the front office to bring out the big stick. It’s business. The Seahawks are better with him on the fields even if he is a pain in the ass off of it. And I, for one, do not feel it’s acceptable in any way to trade this Hall of Fame talent for a bag of peanuts. So, ya, let’s manage the drama and keep the talent. Go Hawks!

  22. southpaw360

    Why doesn’t Seattle ask Dallas for a 2019 4th and a 2022 2nd for Earl? I’m pretty sure you can only trade a draft pick 4 years into the future. Dallas is in win now window and Earl would make that defense a ton better. The “shock” of losing a 2nd round pick is minimized because it’s so far out. If I’m Dallas I don’t turn that trade down.

    • Rob Staton

      Well, I suppose the reason they wouldn’t ask for that is the Seahawks aren’t getting any benefit for years. Russell Wilson will be in the year of his 34th birthday. If you’re trading Earl you want something you can use in the next draft. Seattle’s priority has to be to max out the next 2-3 years before Wilson drifts into his mid-30’s.

  23. Richy

    None of us know anything for sure. I’m going to add my uneducated guess into the pot.
    Earl has no leverage. I woudn’t let him go for anything short of a haul. He’s under contract for this year. If he doesn’t report, the Hawks, make money in fines. If he doesn’t want to play ball, they “franchise tag” him and they still have his services for 2 years. He’s too good to let go, let alone give away to the cowgirls.
    If this National Anthem garbage keeps up, the nfl won’t be any of my concern anyway.


  24. McZ

    I think, ET just cut his ties with PCJS. With Kam gone, the situation is irrepairable.

    I’m not sure about his desire for money. Sure, he wants a bit more, but as he understands “it’s a biz”, he must know that he will be a happy man with $10m/y.

    Above all, he wants to have another shot at a Superbowl, and that’s a thing the Hawks cannot offer. He expects the Cowboys to be a contender.

    So, IMO, John Schneider should call anybody he knows who have an opening championship window, and who needs him fast. Chargers would be really nice for Earl, and think about that secondary… Hayward, James, Thomas, Verrett. Giants could also work.

    Both can afford to loose a high pick next year.
    Just my $0.02.

    • Rob Staton

      I sense if anyone was truly motivated to trade for Earl, it would’ve happened by now. A point seemingly lost on the player or whoever runs his Instagram.

      • McZ

        Certainly not preseason.

        I guess, teams interested and falling into the opening window category would wait till halftime of the season to make a deal happen. If you’re 6 and 2, and you know your staff lacks playoff experience. Hence the Chargers would be a perfect fit.

        If the Hawks are 6 and 2, which is not entirely implausible, a deal wouldn’t make sense at all. For both parties.

        • Rob Staton

          In-season trades are incredibly rare. I think a deal for Earl will be even more unlikely than usual for two reasons:

          1. His position, currently, doesn’t seem to be a priority for many teams. And the lack of interest in his services to date is further evidence that teams just aren’t motivated to go big at safety.

          2. He’s out of contract in the off-season. He’ll be a free agent. Giving up a pick for Earl likely means having to get a new deal sorted during the season. Or you risk losing him for nothing — or having to franchise him and handling all the chaos that could come with that. The tag for a buying team forces their hand towards Eric Berry money with no wiggle room. Not appealing in any way at all and likely makes any potential move a total non-starter.

          I suspect this situation is done. Dallas the only motivated party and they’re unwilling to pay up. So Earl’s choices are to hold out for as long as possible (a totally pointless episode given it won’t change anything). Or to come and play for the Seahawks in 2018 and become a free agent in the off-season.

  25. Largent80

    If he does come to his senses and decide to play this year, if he holds out of camp and pre-season I would have him RIDE THE PINE for a couple games.

    Frank Clark will be entering his final contract year and this would let him know where the Hawks stand on the issue of not playing when you are under contract.

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