Two days and one Christmas later, Earl Thomas asking the Dallas Cowboys to “come get me” remains a Seahawks issue.
Coach Pete Carroll was asked on his weekly radio show with Seattle’s KIRO AM Tuesday about his six-time Pro Bowl free safety walking to the Cowboys’ locker room moments after Seattle finished its 21-12 victory at Dallas on Sunday and telling Cowboys coach Jason Garrett “if y’all got a chance to come get me, come get me!”
“That’s unusual,” Carroll told the “Brock and Salk” show Tuesday morning.
“I sat with Earl afterwards and he was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He didn’t think he did anything wrong. He didn’t know. He was just having fun, and he was really excited about the game and he got, you know, a little bit rubbing it in a little bit, you know, and have a good time with it.
“And then he just said something into the future. And it comes across, you know, when you read it, it comes across bad. But, if he had another chance he wouldn’t say that again.”
“He was really concerned about our fans. That was his first thought: ‘Geez, I don’t want them to think that I don’t love being here,’ and all that.
“So he said what he could say to try to clear it up on that.”
This being 2017, right away we saw the video on Twitter of Thomas going to the Cowboys’ locker room as Seahawks reporters were massed outside the visiting locker room at AT&T Stadium waiting to enter following a standard, postgame cool-down period. When we got inside Thomas explained he was going to see his friend and Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, and that he, Thomas, was a Cowboys fan growing up in Orange, Texas, about a five-hour drive southeast of Dallas.
Thomas explained that on his way to the locker room he saw Garrett.
“The biggest thing is when I said ‘come get me,’ I mean, I don’t literally mean ‘come get me now,’” Thomas said. “I’m still in the prime of my career. I still want to be here.
"But when Seattle kicks me to the curb, please, the Cowboys, come get me. That’s the only place I’d rather be, you know, if I get kicked to the curb."
Thomas turns 29 in the spring. He has one year remaining on his contract. It’s clear he wishes the Seahawks, the only NFL team he’s played for, would have at least talked by now about extending his deal for a second time.
But the Seahawks rarely do that to guys with more than one year remaining on their deals. They waited until August of fellow star safety Kam Chancellor’s contract year this past summer before they gave him $25 million guaranteed in an extension for a 30-year-old fellow “Legion of Boom” member of the defensive secondary. Chancellor’s career is now in doubt because of a season-ending neck injury.
Oh, yes, Thomas noticed what the Seahawks did for Chancellor.
The Seahawks also have three-time All-Pro Richard Sherman’s contract expiring as the cornerback comes off a torn Achilles tendon next season. They have salary-cap concerns and decisions to make on whether to re-sign Jimmy Graham, who caught his 10th touchdown pass of the season on Sunday.
They have major contract issues and decisions with those stars whose deals expire before Thomas’.
Part of all this is, of course, Thomas is a one and only. He is renowned for his supernatural intensity; Carroll said Tuesday Thomas is “as tightly wound as anyone I’ve ever known.” And he’s well-known in the Seahawks’ locker room for his habit of speaking his mind freely, not caring about what his team, teammates such as Bobby Wagner (immediately after Seattle’s previous game) or anyone else think.
Those are sometimes positives, other times negatives for the Seahawks.
When I asked him Sunday in Dallas after his Cowboys locker-room visit if he saw signs the Seahawks may not want him around much longer, Thomas said: "I don’t know. But if they don’t, you know, please come get me."
Thomas signed a four-year, $40 million extension before the 2014 season. At the time it made him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. He played this season coming off a broken leg that briefly had him considering retirement the night it happened in December 2016. He is due $8.5 million next year, well below value in a safety market that has long since surpassed his contract. Thomas is now sixth in the league in average annual contract value.
Kansas City’s Eric Berry is first, at $13 million per year, with $29.8 million guaranteed. Then it’s Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu ($12.5 million average, $21.25 million guaranteed), Miami’s Reshad Jones ($12 million, $19,885,000 guaranteed), Chancellor, Minnesota’s Harrison Smith ($10.25 million, $15,278,000 guaranteed) and then Thomas.
Is Thomas happy in Seattle?
"Hell, yes, I’m happy here," he said Sunday. "I love being here. This is where I started. I built my resume here. I’ve got Kam and Sherm, coach (Kris) Richard (Seattle’s defensive coordinator and his former defensive-backs coach).
“I don’t want to leave."
I then asked him if he wished the Seahawks would have talked to him already about an extension
"Yeah,” Thomas said, “that would be a great Christmas present.
"I don’t know. I’m just going to keep ballin’. And hopefully they see the value."
Carroll was asked on KIRO AM Tuesday if he worries less about what Thomas said to Garrett and that his star went to the Cowboys’ locker room Sunday because it is Thomas.
“A little bit less, yes,” Carroll said, laughing.
“We all know Earl. Earl is a wonderful guy and a great competitor and an incredible player, and all that. You know, he sees things a little differently sometimes.
“It’s unfortunate, because it causes people to have to take a stand on stuff. And in this day and age, everything you say just goes ... and writing looks different than when you say it.
“And when you ask the kid, you know, ‘What happened?’ he was blown away. He couldn’t believe it. I was the first one to say something to him, because I had heard it in our locker room. I said, ‘Do you realize what just happened?’
“He said, ‘No, what are you talking about?’
“We were sitting on the bench together. Anyway... it bothers people, but we are OK. We get through it. Stuff gets said. On we go.”
On to Sunday’s regular-season finale at home. The Seahawks (9-6) must beat Arizona (7-8) and Carolina (11-4) must win at Atlanta (9-6) beginning at the same time on Sunday, 1:25 p.m., for Seattle to make the playoffs for the sixth consecutive January.
A loss or Atlanta win would mean Thomas will be entering his the final year of his contract, instead. Something tells me Christmas Eve in Dallas won’t be the last time Thomas expresses a desire on his future.
And the Seahawks may not like the next one, either.
“He is so introspective. Really, he is very quiet. He doesn’t talk much, and he’s not a guy that expresses himself very often,” Carroll said Tuesday. “When he does sometimes, you know, it’s coming out. You go, ‘What was that? Where did that come from, Earl?’
“But he’s awesome--in his way.”