In this case, Thomas has the right to hold out

Salary cap logo“Extend (me). If you don’t want me, let’s make a trade happen. I understand it’s a bizz.” — Earl Thomas.

K.J. Wright and Earl Thomas are in the same situation, but they are handling it differently. And, in this case, neither is wrong — because John Schneider is.

Wright is taking the high road, not making a stink about his contract — a highly respectable position to take, especially since Schneider and Pete Carroll have done an about-face and made a lot of unexpected moves that have the few remaining veterans wondering about their long-term status with the team.

“Why am I not holding out? I just want to control what I can control,” Wright said at the June minicamp. “I want to get better in the offseason. I believe spring ball is the way to improve yourself. And it’s my job to make sure to build this chemistry with my defense. And I want this defense to be good. I want coach Norton to have a good first year. I’ve always believed you control what you can control, and that’s what I’m gonna do.”

Thomas, meanwhile, is trying to control his future with the leverage he has: a holdout. In this case, with Schneider and Carroll turning the roster upside-down, the safety’s request to extend him or trade him is very fair. And holding out is a legit way to exercise his dissatisfaction — even if it won’t accomplish anything beyond that.

This is not Kam Chancellor’s ill-advised boycott or Michael Bennett’s griping — both with multiple years left on their deals. This is a star who has seen a bunch of high-profile teammates go and wants to know his future now — not when his contract is up next year. He has earned the right to hold out.

Not that he should even have to.

As we’ve said before, Schneider should extend the All-Pro and keep him as one of the core defensive stars — along with Bobby Wagner and Wright. The Seahawks will have a ton of cap room — over $60 million — next year, so they can easily afford to pay veteran stars Thomas ($14M APY), Wright ($8M) and Duane Brown ($11M).

But, Schneider apparently has turned gun shy after extending Marshawn Lynch, Bennett and Chancellor and seeing none of those guys play a down under their new deals — Lynch got hurt and retired, Chancellor suffered a career-ending neck injury and Bennett was traded after Schneider and Carroll decided he was no longer invested. Schneider wasted $45 million on those guys ($12 million on Lynch, $8 million on Bennett, $25 million on Chancellor).

This offseason, Schneider has continually referred to third contracts being different than second deals — an obvious change in his thinking after the three failed veteran extensions. But he’s over-correcting now, making a bad decision the other way.

Sure, maybe Schneider and Carroll are so upset with Thomas’ so-called treachery in Dallas last season that they just want him gone. But then why not just trade him for that third-rounder the Cowboys reportedly offered?

The Seahawks are undergoing a SEA change on defense, with Bennett, Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Cliff Avril all gone. Thomas clearly is next — since Schneider obviously is not interested in paying him. And Wright might follow, too, even though he also should be extended.

Schneider has basically cut bait this offseason. He chose not to take anything for Sherman last year, then simply cut him while injured because the team finally grew tired of his griping. And Schneider ditched the divisive Bennett, too, trading him just 14 months after giving him an extension that never kicked in.

Schneider got no value for Sherman and terrible return for Bennett (Schneider was in such a hurry to dump him that he missed out on a third-rounder from the Patriots), which is why it is odd the GM stands so steadfast in trying to get more than a third-round pick for Thomas.

Schneider and Carroll obviously are counting on the safety not wanting to miss real paychecks once the season starts and his $8.5 million salary kicks in. But you can expect Thomas to miss all of training camp and then report for the opener — or at least before midseason so he qualifies for free agency.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be like this.

Extending Thomas would not be a cap killer. The Hawks are projected to have $66 million in 2019 cap space — and making Chancellor a June cut would return $5.3 million more (even counting his injury guarantee). With all of that space, the Hawks could easily handle extensions for Thomas, Wright and Brown this year and Russell Wilson and Wagner next year.

(No, we’re not forgetting Frank Clark or Tyler Lockett. Clark probably will want more than Seattle will pay, and Lockett has to prove he can return to rookie form after two injury-affected years.)

Thomas wants to top Eric Berry’s $13 million APY, so a four-year extension worth $56 million would do it. Figure a new deal that pays a $14 million signing bonus, a $5 million salary in 2018 and then $10 million to $13 million the rest of the way (with roster bonuses built in). As long as he played through 2020, when he will be 31, the Hawks would be fine. Dead money would drop to $5.6 million in 2021, meaning the team could move on from him then if he was no longer worth it.

The reality though is Schneider and Carroll already feel like he is no longer worth it. And that’s why Thomas has good reason to hold out for a better situation.

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6 thoughts on “In this case, Thomas has the right to hold out”

  1. Any player has the right to hold out but don’t whine about the result. The Seahawks shouldn’t offer Earl anything until he is in camp why would you? You don’t know where his head is at how his health is, so until they get an offer for what they THINK he’s worth he will sit out. And lose out on money he agreed to in writing. EARL GO TO WORK if your not happy let them know on the clock they will get you out of town and you will be paidd till then no brainer.

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    1. That’s the John Clayton view. The response is that after five years, Earl Thomas is a known quantity and that Pete Carroll and John Schneider get paid a lot of money to make calls like this.

      These guys are executives: By now, neither of them can legitimately say that they need to see Earl Thomas on the practice field in order to gauge his commitment. If either really believes that — and it’s doubtful that they do — they should be looking for another line of work.

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  2. Agree. The knee-jerk response is understandable, but over time it becomes baffling.

    Here’s a question: If you’re not going to extend Thomas and have written off the idea of building the defense around him and Wagner, why extend Wright?

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  3. I would extend both, obviously. They probably won’t extend either because Schneider is so skittish about third-contract vets now.

    The argument for keeping Wright and not Thomas? Wright’s game is not built on speed, just length and savvy, and he has been very durable, which means he could offer better value for another 3-4 years …

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    1. I would extend both, too. And given that there’s salary cap space after this season, extending Wright is defensible even though he’ll be 30 in 2019. I’m coming from the perspective of if you’re going to rebuild, then rebuild.

      The counterargument to the gun shy mentality is this:

      1. Lynch got paid for services already rendered. In spirit, his extension was a like a bonus.

      2. Chancellor’s injury was a fluke that could have happened at any time in his career — i.e., it wasn’t age-related. (IMO, the extension was the price of getting him to end his holdout.)

      3. Bennett’s extension was a mistake. No argument there. But is that reason enough to not extend Earl?

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  4. Not to flog a dead horse, but Clayton’s position that Thomas has to show up to camp and prove himself exposes a weakness that many reporters have: They’re lone wolves who have never had management responsibility.

    If SEA insists on ET reporting first, every guy in that locker who has played a down with him will think it’s so much b.s. And they’ll really think it’s b.s. if ET reports and then doesn’t get extended — no matter what JSPC say.

    Luckily, they are too seasoned and too aware to go down the road of creating a pointless wedge. If they continue to wait ET out, it will be for other reasons.

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