Earl Thomas got his. Finally.
After more than a year of anger at his Seahawks for not giving him $13 million per year in a contract extension, after a bitter holdout and even going to a rival team’s locker room to tell the Cowboys’ coach to “come get me when Seattle kicks me to the curb,” the three-time All-Pro safety agreed Wednesday to a $55 million, four-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
That’s $13.75 million per year for the six-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl champion with Seattle, who is turning 30 in May while coming off his second broken leg in three years.
The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who said it comes with $22 million guaranteed in 2019. Thomas gets $32 million guaranteed in all, $20 million of that in a signing bonus.
The Ravens made the deal official Wednesday afternoon at exactly 1 p.m., the time the league’s free-agency signing period began.
The Seahawks will host Thomas and the Ravens in the 2019 regular season, in what is now one of the must-see games of the year. The NFL will announce the exact date of that and all other match-ups for the coming season next month.
The Seahawks played this wisely. There was no way they were going to pay Thomas his demand. And they didn’t trade him to home-state Dallas, as he wanted, or anywhere else because they justifiably believed they another deep playoff run in 2018 was more likely with their likely future Hall of Famer on the field for them instead of someone else.
That plan went awry when Thomas broke his leg during the win at Arizona on Sept. 30. It was the exact kind of season-ending injury Thomas feared when he was holding out and wanting to get all the money he could, when he could, in this nothing-is-fully-guaranteed NFL.
The end for Thomas effectively came that day in Glendale, Ariz. Thomas was so irate that his feared scenario became reality, he flipped off the Seahawks’ sideline from the back of a cart while he was getting motored out of the stadium. And out of the franchise’s future.
Yet that’s not we should remember Thomas for as a Seahawk.
It’s not how coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks will remember him.
Asked two weeks ago if he had any regrets with how it ended between Thomas and the only NFL team he’s known, until Wednesday, Carroll said yes.
“Yeah, because he got hurt,” Carroll said Feb. 28 at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. “He was off to a great start in the season, and just an unfortunate injury again got in the way of it.
“That’s what I regret, that he couldn’t finish on high note and build his case for the future and all of that. He was just on such a tear at the beginning of the season. It was really frustrating for him, I know.”
Carroll’s first draft pick for Seattle, 14th-overall in 2010, was one of Seattle’s greatest players during the greatest run in franchise history: five consecutive postseasons, two consecutive Super Bowls and what remains the team’s only NFL championship, at the end of the 2013 season.
That was when Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and their now-all-gone “Legion of Boom” secondary were in their primes.
He played his impending free agency his way, and got the money he was seeking.
The Seahawks played his impending free agency their way, and got the salary-cap management they were seeking.
Forget how it ended. This franchise and region eventually will.
Thomas will be in the team’s Ring of Honor someday.
He said goodbye to the Seahawks on his Twitter account.
And the Seahawks saluted him in kind.