UPDATE: The News Tribune has confirmed Earl Thomas and the Seahawks have reached a four-year, $40 million contract extension. The Seahawks will have an 11 a.m. press conference Tuesday. They did not specify why.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network first reported Thomas' extension.
The extension will make Thomas the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Jairus Byrd signed a six-year, $54 million deal with the New Orleans Saints before last season, an average of $9 million per season with $26.3 million guaranteed. Some more details on the numbers:
The sides reaching an agreement is not a surprise. Thomas reached the point that opposing offenses predicated much of their plan on keeping the ball away from him. According to NFLSavant.com, opposing offenses threw deep over the middle a scant 1.73 percent of the time last season and only had a 40 percent completion rate when doing so.
Thomas, 24, was heading into his final year of a five-year deal, $18.3 million deal. Thomas is slated to be paid $4.725 million this season, a cap number of $5.473 million. According to the NFL Players' Association, the Seahawks had $14,700,225 in cap space remaining before the deal.
The Seahawks' offseason management of their salary cap space was designed around re-signing Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman, who is heading into the final year of his deal.
Thomas' range and attitude are crucial parts to the league's No. 1 defense. Not only is he among the fastest players in the league, but he's arguably the most intense.
Thomas moved into the spotlight last year, emerging from his quieter days as a Seahawks rookie in 2010. He is arguably the best player on the best defense in the league. He’s no longer the mistake-prone loose-cannon safety that coach Pete Carroll thought of benching or the quiet guy in a vociferous secondary.
Thomas has been named to three consecutive Pro Bowls, plus three consecutive All-Pro teams as a free safety. He’s a dad. He might be the most amped member of the “Legion of Boom,” challenging the man next to him in the locker room, Sherman, for that title.
“I want to take over,” Thomas told the News Tribune during the season.
In January, I asked him about heading into the final year of his deal.
“Why stress it when you know it’s coming?” Thomas said. “You just focus on what’s in front of you right now. It’s already been taken care of. Your play is going to speak for itself. They already know how valuable you are to the team and what you bring. Those numbers don’t lie.”
This is a further step toward that.
Next for the Seahawks will be how they handle Sherman. There is some thought the team wants to get both deals done prior to the May 8 draft.