Report: Earl Thomas trade price remains high amid drama

Published 10:41 am Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Courtesy Derek Lewis 247SPORTS


If Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas‘ decision to skip practice was part of a larger strategy to force his current organization into action, he didn’t move the needle at all.

While head coach Pete Carroll continues to dance with all the grace of an elephant around the subject regarding Thomas skipping practice and his future as a Seahawk; the organization is also holding firm on exactly what it would take to pry the best safety in football out of their hands. The facts of the matter remain that the talented free safety is under contract with them for 2018 and his potential relocation flows completely and totally through them. Even when the season ends, they can franchise tag him and restart this whole ordeal in 2019 (unlikely).

Where a trade is concerned, the Kansas City Chiefs came into public view on Sunday as a contender for Thomas but have actually been involved longer than that. According to Good Morning Football’s Pete Schrager, the Chiefs have been in trade talks with the Seahawks for the veteran defender since August but talks have slowed since the season started. Week one marks the end of Thomas’ holdout and perhaps his return emboldened the Seahawks to return to their original asking price or perhaps it never went down.

Either way, their standard trade policy on the matter seems to be that they have Thomas and you don’t. Thus, you have to wow them to get him. . And, they’ll keep him through his contract if they have to do so.

“For Seattle, this really would be about just price,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said on Monday. “First of all, they want Earl Thomas to be a member of the team this season. As far as going forward, they have not signed him to a long-term deal but he is under contract for the season. They refused a pretty good offer from the Cowboys after training camp, of a second round pick, before he showed up. Clearly Seattle needs to be blown away. Remember, they traded for [left tackle] Duane Brown last year. Gave up a second rounder and change. They think Earl Thomas is much better. So it would be much more than they gave up for Duane Brown.

“And as far as the Cowboys, they are still interested in potentially trading for him. The Kansas City Chiefs are another team that would have some interest. I know they did in August too but the contract that he’s going to command is at least an issue for them. It’s not like they have a ton of cap space. So there are teams that are interested; it’s just a matter of are the Seahawks going to get the price that they want or do they simply say, ‘He’s playing for us this season and that’s it?'”

The Chiefs only have $6 million in cap space remaining in 2018 and would have to take some salary-clearing measures to fit Thomas’ salary onto their books; although that aspect becomes less and less of a problem every week Thomas gets another game check from Seattle. They do have a projected $47 million in cap space next year, according to; so they have enough to dedicate towards Thomas’ $13 million or above asking price on a contract extension but they’ll be working from a hole the rest of the summer as they try to make any other moves. For instance, the Seahawks have a projected $62 million in cap space and remain unsure if they want to pay Thomas.

As of right now in week four, the Seahawks have all the leverage. They don’t have to move a muscle and as long as they’re willing to endure whatever drama an unhappy Thomas can bring, they can enjoy his services on Sundays. They hold all the cards where his money in 2018 and even a potential contract beyond this season are concerned. Add to that, teams are only going to get less healthy as the season moves along and they’re sitting in the catbird seat.

The question becomes when does that leverage start to wane. If they’re actually willing to walk away from the negotiation table and eat the chance they could lose Thomas in free agency or franchise tag him and have much less leverage next offseason in attempting to trade him, they’ll never lose any leverage in 2018. As long as they’re willing to say no, teams are forced to come up to their price or continue to be without Thomas help. It should also be noted that a significant injury to Thomas would knock off trade leverage but that issue would also lessen Thomas’ contract negotiation power.

Another way they lose leverage is this. If they become worried about letting yet another franchise cornerstone walk away without so much as a pick in return, like they did with cornerback Richard Sherman, they may start to lower their price around the week eight deadline and get a deal secured.

If Thomas walked in free agency, they may get a third-round comp pick or they may not. They’ll have money to spend and thus could cancel out whatever pick they get from him signing elsewhere with their own big-name signings. And even if they get a comp pick, Thomas piles into the picks they’ll get from losing multiple free agents in 2019. It’s cumulative value. You don’t get a pick for each free agent lost.  It’s not the same as getting a trade done. If they take this battle into next season, it be hard to see them getting more than a third-round pick, if that, with teams knowing they’re officially on borrowed time.

In other words, the Seahawks have never had more leverage than they’ll have right now and likely never will have more leverage again.

Being willing to walk away from the table may get them their desired treasure trove of assets or it could end in a comparative disaster. But make no mistake about it, they’re asking for a hefty sum. They acquired Brown for a 2018 third-round pick and 2019 second-round pick; so it sounds like their original reported price of a first-round pick and third-round pick for Thomas still stands. They may be willing to take back a young rising player in lieu of the third-round pick.

Currently, Seattle holds the cards. Will they check all the way into disaster in 2019 or bluff their way into a king’s ransom? That is the question.