Earl Thomas is holding out from the Seattle Seahawks' mandatory practice activities. The 29-year-old veteran safety, who has consistently earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors throughout his career, is seeking a contract extension from Seattle that will likely make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL.
Entering the final year of his four-year, $40 million contract extension that he signed in 2014, Thomas released a statement on social media stating that he wishes to have his contract situation taken care of as soon as possible and that he will not participate in mandatory team activities until he gets what he desires. This has caused a considerable amount of drama across the league and rampant speculation about the Seahawks possibly trading him to another team, particularly the Dallas Cowboys.
Thomas has been an integral part of Seattle's historic "Legion of Boom," which propelled the team to a victory in Super Bowl XLVIII and is considered to be one of the best defensive backfields in NFL history. In addition, Thomas himself has earned recognition across the league as one of the best safeties in football's recent memory. A six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro, Thomas excels at playing the middle of the field and erasing deep completions. Given that a player of his caliber is so rare, it is only natural that Thomas desires a contract extension of the highest order.
The thing is, Seattle is already quite tight against the salary cap over the next few years. They may have enough room to re-sign Thomas to an extension he wants, but they have traded away and released key components to their defense to free up cap space for the future. They claim to be in re-tooling mode, and signing a 29-year-old player to a massive contract does not seem ideal for many in that situation.
In addition, Thomas has drawn fire for telling Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett to "come get me" if they had the opportunity after Seattle's Week 16 victory over Dallas last season. Thomas, a Texas native, later clarified that he meant that he wants to play for the Cowboys if the Seahawks choose to part ways with him. The safety has reiterated several times that he wishes to remain in Seattle for the rest of his career, but the storm of drama he has created will not stop until something is done about his situation.
On the other hand, dealing Thomas would create yet another void at a very important position in the game. Despite the overhaul of some key positions, it would be less than optimal for any team to cut ties with certain players who could still serve as key pieces in the future. Thomas could be one of those players. He is, after all, a generational talent at the safety position that no team can hope of finding in every draft that comes along. Thomas seems like he still has at least a few years of All-Pro caliber football left in him and he could be instrumental in speeding up this re-tooling process.
This much is clear: Thomas is holding out for a contract extension, and the Seahawks must make a decision that will impact both the organization and Thomas' future with the team.