If you’ve been fretting—OK, panicked—that Seahawks safety Earl Thomas would holdout, miss training camp or even be traded, here’s a bit of good news.
Thursday evening, at his annual Ben’s Fund charity event, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said representatives for Thomas have told him that Thomas will not hold out to start the 2018 season.
I asked Schneider during a part charity, part football question-and-answer session at El Gaucho restaurant in Bellevue, before the event, if the GM has any reason to believe Thomas will hold out this year. The three-time All-Pro whose contract ends after 2018 said in January at the Pro Bowl he'd consider holding out if he doesn't get a new deal to his liking by September, or preferably sooner.
"No, I don't. I don't," Schneider said. "He has not said he'd hold out. His representatives told me that."
I asked for clarification, that Thomas' representatives said Thomas would not hold out, even if he doesn't have a new deal by the time the season starts Sept. 9 at Denver.
"Right," Schneider said.
Thomas is still under contract for the final season of his four-year, $40 million contract extension with Seattle. But he has been giving signal—some subtle, others not so much—since last summer that he wants to rework his deal. The three-time All-Pro free safety skipped the start of Seattle's voluntary offseason workouts that began Monday.
In December, after a win at Dallas in his home state of Texas, Thomas went to the Cowboys' locker room and told coach Jason Garrett to "come get me." A few minutes later in the locker room in Arlington, Texas, that Christmas Eve day, Thomas said he meant when Seattle "kicks me to the curb."
The Seahawks cannot fine Thomas because these conditioning workouts and exercises with the team's training staff at its headquarters are voluntary, per the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. So are the organized team activities that will begin on the practice field May 21.
The only mandatory event of the offseason is the Seahawks' lone veteran minicamp. That is June 12-14. The team could fine Thomas for missing that, and any of training camp that begins at the end of July.
The Seahawks have had stars skip these offseason workouts in previous springs. Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett used to stay at his winter home in Hawaii then show up for the mandatory minicamp and training camp to avoid fines. Former cornerstone running back Marshawn Lynch also usually only showed up when he was mandated to, usually by the start of training camp.
Thomas, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, turns 29 next month. He has been talking about wanting an extension from the Seahawks since August.
Thomas has a base salary of $8.5 million this year, with a $10.4 million cap charge. The Seahawks would save $8.5 million in cap space by trading him. They have been rightly asking for something approaching the moon—two high-round draft choices next week and perhaps more—for Thomas.
Schneider spoke Thursday at his charity event in which Seahawks players serve as celebrity waiters to benefit Ben's Fund. The charity provides grant opportunities for Washington state families that have children with autistic spectrum disorders. Schneider's son Ben was diagnosed with autism at age 3.
Bradley McDougald was one of the waiters. He re-signed this offseason to likely be Thomas' partner at safety because of Kam Chancellor's career-threatening neck injury.
McDougald said he's received assurances, through social media and otherwise, that Thomas will be on the field and not holding out when the 2018 season begins.
"As far as I know, yeah, Earl is going to be (there). It's going to be BM30 (30 is McDougald's jersey number) and ET29," McDougald said. "And I'm looking forward to it."