Superstar safety Earl Thomas gave the Seattle Seahawks an ultimatum Thursday: Trade me or give me an extension.
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) August 2, 2018
Thomas is holding out of Seattle’s training camp
Thomas, 29, expressed his displeasure with the Seattle organization in a letter he penned for The Players’ Tribune. Normally a quiet player off the field, he starts by acknowledging why he’s writing: The average NFL career is short, he says, and all players — not just Thomas himself — deserve to be paid according to their production. Thomas is a six-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, a Super Bowl champion and arguably the best safety in the league. He’s entering the final year of a 4-year, $40-million extension, and he’s making $8.5 million this season, seventh among safeties.
If you’re risking your body to deliver all of this value to an organization, then you deserve some sort of assurance that the organization will take care of you if you get hurt. It’s that simple. This isn’t new, and this isn’t complicated. It’s the reason I’m holding out — I want to be able to give my everything, on every play, without any doubt in my mind.
And it’s the reason why I’m asking the Seahawks to do one of two things:
Offer me an extension.
Or trade me to a team that wants me to be part of their future.
Thomas used Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor as prime examples
Further into his piece, Thomas presents evidence of why he feels he deserves either a longer deal or a trade to a team that will give him one.
His first example is former Seahawks middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, a three-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro. Thomas’ career began just as Tatupu’s was ending. The Seahawks asked for him to take a pay cut following the 2010 season, and when Tatupu refused, the team released him. Tatupu didn’t play a single down thereafter.
That kind of shook me — but it was also a good lesson of how, at any given time, a team can refuse to honor your contract and get rid of you. So no matter how much you like a team or you care about the game, you have to look out for yourself when it comes to the business end of things.
Thomas also referenced two more recent examples: Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, both pillars of Seattle’s once-feared “Legion of Boom.” Neither are with the team. Sherman suffered a torn Achilles on a Thursday night game against Arizona in November. Chancellor suffered a neck injury in the same game and retired this offseason. Both of those players — top players at their position — had their careers drastically altered in an instant.
Of course, we all know what we’re risking every time we take the field. But that Thursday night game really cemented in my mind the truth — which is that your entire life can change on one play. And when it does, no matter what you’ve accomplished in the past … you can still get cut without even so much as a negotiation. That’s what happened to Sherm. One of the all-time greats. And I know it could happen to me too.
Thomas knows a rebuild could be coming
With Sherman gone to division rival San Francisco and Chancellor no longer in the league, Thomas knows Seattle may be looking more toward the future than the present. After making the playoffs for five straight seasons, the Seahawks fell just short last year.
And although he stressed, “I love Seattle” in his piece, he wants to be part of a team committed to winning with him contributing.
In the end, it’s like I said: If the Seahawks don’t intend on having me around for the long-term, then I understand. And if they want to start over and rebuild, then that’s their right — it’s part of the business. It’s not what I want … but I get it. All I ask, though, is that if that’s the case, and they don’t want me anymore — just please trade me to an organization that does.
Please trade me to a team that wants me, so I can give my all to them for the rest of my career.
Thomas remains a no-show at Seattle training camp, and it appears that his holdout will continue until Seattle takes action.
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be there. It’s quite the opposite, in fact: “I wish I was at a camp right now — and I’m talking right now. I’m ready. I’ve been preparing my body all off-season to be at an NFL camp. All I want is to be out there playing. Instead I’m here working out… and waiting.”
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