Yeah, it’s “personal,” all right.
Earl Thomas remains personally angry at the Seahawks.
Two days after I wrote Thomas missing practices Wednesday and Friday were him ratcheting up his anger at his team over it not paying him or trading him, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported the Seahawks are “considering a significant fine to Earl Thomas for conduct detrimental for twice missing practice.”
“No final decision made,” Mortensen reported on his Twitter account Sunday morning hours before the Seahawks (0-2) hosted Dallas (1-1) in Seattle’s home opener. “He’s expected to play vs. Cowboys AND the Chiefs have emerged as a possible trade partner if Thomas is dealt this year, per sources.”
That remains a huge “if,” though the prospect of Thomas disrupting each week of Seattle’s regular season as he and the Seahawks move closer to the league’s trading deadline of Oct. 30 surely is giving general manager John Schneider added thoughts about a deal in the next five weeks before Thomas leaves in free agency in March.
Of course, Thomas blowing off practices and disrupting is a way to force such a trade.
The three-time All-Pro safety is in the final year of a $40-million contract with Seattle. For months he’s wanted an extension at the top of the league’s market for safeties—something like the $13 million per year and $40 million guaranteed Kansas City gave Thomas’ 2010 NFL draft classmate Eric Berry last year.
The Seahawks have stayed firm in not wanting to pay Thomas that rich of an extension that would take him past his 33rd or 34th birthdays.
Absent that new deal, Thomas has demanded the Seahawks trade him. No other team thus far has come close to Seattle’s asking price. That’s believed to be a first-round draft choice, another high-round pick and perhaps a veteran player.
The huge complicating factor in any trade of Thomas: an acquiring team would need to meet his asking price on an extension beyond 2018 before the trade. If not, that acquiring team would be giving up a lot to merely rent him for a few months of this season before his contract expires in January.
Thomas missed all offseason workouts and all of training camp while in a holdout. He accrued daily preseason and offseason fines approaching $2 million. There have been conflicting signals on how much the Seahawks have collected or will collect in those fines; coach Pete Carroll has refused to comment about them.
When Thomas returned from his holdout this month, days before he played in the opening game at Denver and avoided missing a $500,000 weekly game check, he wrote on his Instagram page he won’t forget “the disrespect” shown to him throughout his holdout. After he played the opener, he said he would seek to take care of himself as he played through this season.
That Sept. 9 interview at his locker is the only time he’s spoken to the media for an interview.
Thursday, the only day this week the Seahawks listed Thomas as a full participant in practice, he politely declined my request to talk to him about how he came out of the Bears game and about this game Sunday against his home-state Cowboys.
The Seahawks’ longest-tenured player—they drafted him in 2010, in the first round—told me on his way out to the field when I asked Thursday if he was OK: “Man, I’m just trying to get out here to practice.”
Thomas did not practice Wednesday nor Friday, though Friday he was at the walk-through workout wearing a visor.
“Yeah, he couldn’t work today,” Carroll said cryptically Friday of Thomas.
Carroll said Thomas did not have an injury or physical issue. Thomas played 65 of 66 plays for the Seahawks on defense Monday night in the loss at Chicago. That was his second game since he ended what essentially was an eight-month holdout two weeks ago. He had stayed away all winter, spring and summer into this month over bitterness about his expiring contract and the team not extending it to his liking, or trading him, by now.
Carroll was asked Friday how Thomas came out of Monday’s game at Chicago physically.
“Fine,” the coach said. “Came out fine.”
Asked about Thomas’ availability for Sunday, Carroll said: “We’ll see how he’s doing. Make sure he’s OK.”
Is it injury related?
“No,” Carroll said. “He’s got some other stuff going on, that we are working on.
“Yes, it a personal nature. That’s why I’m not talking about it.”
Thomas was not at his locker in the time the team allotted to the media to be in there reporting following Friday’s practice.