The anticipated deal securing FS Earl Thomas has come to pass: A four-year, $40 million extension, $27.775 million guaranteed, that will make the Seahawks’ premier defender the highest paid safety in the game, according to multiple reports, including ProFootballTalk.com. Thomas will make $4.6 million in 2014, his final year before he would have become a free agent.
Previously, free agent Jairus Byrd left Buffalo for New Orleans and a six-year, $54 million deal, with $26.3 million guaranteed.
As much as any player, Thomas, 25 next month, helped lead the Seahawks to the Super Bowl championship. His speed, ferocity and intense preparation set a tone for the defense as much as Russell Wilson drove the offense. Thomas is the commander of “The Legion of Boom.”
The Seahawks’ first pick in the 2010 draft (14th overall) from the University of Texas was the first by the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime that transformed the franchise.
“I think Earl Thomas might have one of the highest football IQs I’ve ever heard of, and he studies the game to a T,” Sherman told si.com’s Doug Farrar in January. “He studies it day, night, night and day. In the morning, at night — he’s probably studying it right now. You’ve got Kam Chancellor, who does the same thing.
“So when you see Chancellor going downhill to make those huge hits and those huge plays, and Earl going to make those, it’s because they know the play is coming. They’re not guessing out there. It’s a real testament to us as a group.”
Thomas is the Seahawks’ fourth major contract extension of the offseason, including coach Pete Carroll. The Seahawks also re-signed DE Michael Bennett before he became a free agent, and re-structured the contract to bring back TE Zach Miller.
Next up for an extension figures to be CB Richard Sherman, who, like Thomas, is eligible for free agency after this season.
“Whatever they feel I am due, I will take it as respect,” Sherman told NFL Network last week. “It’s all about respect in this game, and the only way people show respect is the dollars. We’ll see what happens.”