On the second day of NFL free agency, when TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins passed on interest from his hometown Seahawks to sign with Jacksonville, when WR Jordy Nelson signed with Oakland, and when DT Sheldon Richardson was being courted by Minnesota, the most intriguing Seattle news came via tweet about the future of Earl Thomas.
NFL reporter Jason La Canfora wrote the Seahawks were having conversations with multiple teams about their All-Pro free safety, and asking a high price:
Seahawks in discussions with several teams regarding Earl Thomas. Seeking a 1st and 3rd round pick in return. May get more
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 15, 2018
Obviously at this time of the NFL year, discussions are as ubiquitous as poodles in Beverly Hills. But since general manager John Schneider two weeks ago at the scouting combine said there were “no untouchables” on the Seattle roster, and in December, Thomas went out of his post-game way to find Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and tell him, “come get me,” it is open season on rumors surrounding Thomas.
The last healthy man standing from the Legion of Boom and Seattle’s second-best player, Thomas won’t be 29 until May and enters his contract year wanting to be the game’s highest-paid safety. After six Pro Bowls in his eight seasons, there’s a lot to like and and it’s all expensive.
The Seahawks apparently are ready to let someone else sort it out.
The problem isn’t talent. It’s whether the acquirer has the ability, desire and resources to satisfy team and Thomas.
The Seattle price is steep; a report Wednesday said the Cowboys passed on the demand for their first-round pick, one behind Seattle at 18. If Schneider sticks to the reported demand for a first and a third, he could walk away empty-handed.
If it’s true that Thomas wants to top the best-paid player, the Chiefs’ Eric Berry ($13 million) for multiple years, that cuts the candidate list considerably.
Nevertheless, there a lot of coin being thrown in the field of 525 free agents. Landing Thomas and extending him before his free agency in 2019 could upgrade any defense to playoff-readiness.
The Seahawks already made a priority out of re-signing a potential replacement, Bradley McDougald, before free agency began, giving him $13.9 million over three years for a six-year veteran who will be 28 in November. He started twice for Thomas when he sat out with a a sore hamstring, and then the final seven games at strong safety when Kam Chancellor went down with a neck injury.
The Seahawks have no second- or third-round picks in the April draft.
So if Schneider gets his asking price, the flong-term future will look brighter.
As for the near-term of 2018, potentially without Thomas, Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril . . . not so much.