Let’s skip all the introductory crap: the Seattle Seahawks should not trade Earl Thomas. Let’s say it louder one more time for the people in the back:

The Seattle Seahawks should not trade Earl Thomas.

Ever since being drafted 14th overall back in 2010, Earl has been everything Seattle has ever hoped for. He’s met every standard, he’s achieved every goal, and he’s performed when no one else has. He’s a hall of fame free safety with a reasonable case for being the most talented, disruptive, and accomplished safety in NFL history. In an age where the league prioritizes offensive gains, Earl makes his presence known.

For years he has served as the lynchpin of the Legion of Boom. In eight seasons he’s missed a grand total of seven games. Five of those seven games came in 2016, after he freakishly collided mid-air with Kam Chancellor attempting to intercept a pass from Cam Newton. If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that ETIII’s presence is essential. Here’s a fascinating excerpt from Football Outsiders, discussing the impact of Earl’s 2016 absence:

“Measuring Thomas’ absence isn’t an individual thing. Thomas’ absence is felt on a macro scale rather than a micro scale. Over the first 11 weeks of the season, when Thomas was healthy, the Seahawks had a pass defense DVOA of -6.8%. That ranked fifth over that time. Since Thomas was first injured, the Seahawks pass defense has a DVOA of 25.8%, 26th in the league over that time. That drop in pass defense resulted in a dropoff from third to 17th for the unit as a whole. Thomas is the foundation of the Seahawks pass defense. When he isn’t available, the structural integrity of the unit is compromised.

He’s a five time All-Pro, six time Pro-Bowler, Super Bowl Champion, and the lynchpin to the decade’s greatest secondary. And don’t even try to tell me that value is declining, that his talent is declining, that his career is declining… are you kidding me? He may have missed two games in 2017, but he was still very much Earl Thomas. Here’s just a couple of examples…

Personally, I believe there are three sacred cows on this team: Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, and Russell Wilson. You don’t even answer a trade phone call unless you know the opposing team is offering an absolute eternity of draft picks.

In 2018, Earl will carry a $10.4M cap hit (ranked 5th out of all safeties). Considering the value he provides, that is an incredibly reasonable number. So what do you do with Earl? He wants a new contract, and he likely wants to be the highest paid safety. Well guess what: he deserves it. He’s a 28 year old Hall of Famer. Let me say that one more time: Earl Thomas is a 28 year old Hall of Fame free safety. Extend him to a 3 year deal at $15M per year with reasonable guarantees. If you’re worried about 2018 cap space, don’t be. Extending Earl would lower his cap number for 2018 (freeing up additional space). If you really want to, you could probably get out of the deal in year two. I promise you….he’s worth it.

I spoke with Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap, who said this:

“From a logical standpoint I don’t see how they could invest all that money in Kam Chancellor and then somehow decide they want to move on from Thomas. I think because of the way the team has handled extensions in the past with players Thomas should strongly consider holding out and make it pretty well known (which I think he has already done) to force their hand into making him the highest paid safety.  I don’t see the value in a trade and I think he can still be highly effective for the next 2-3 years which in my mind justifies an extension.”

If you trade him for a second round pick (which has been the rumored compensation), you’ll greatly regret it.

Over the years, the Hawks have set a precedent for extending their cornerstone talents entering the last year of their deals. Earl is entering the last year of his: he deserves a new deal. You can make arguments to trade many different players, whether it be Sherman, Wright, Britt, Kam, Bennett — whoever it is, I’ll listen. But you don’t trade Earl.

Every once in awhile a generational talent will fall into your lap. You don’t let those players walk. Earl Thomas is one of those players.

 

15 Responses

  1. Uncle Bob

    Okay, I’ll pipe up as one of the shy little voices from the back of the room.

    There’s no way to take reasonable issue with any of the glowing descriptives about Earl’s individual play and his role in being an in sync and significant cog in the LOBs of the past. He simply is at least one of the best 2 or 3 active FS in the game today, if not THE best.

    The kicker of course is that this is a TEAM game, and for all his greatness, Earl didn’t get the Seahawks into the playoffs last season because the team failed as a whole. It’s pretty well accepted now that the team is desperately working to reassemble an effective whole team to compete more successfully next season. As the resident “capspert” you probably know as well as anyone how being over invested in any number of formerly and present high caliber talents has constrained options for improvement. So far they’re nipping at the edges of freeing up value with probable releases of Lane, trading Bennett, and so on. Small potatoes in the bigger picture of roster building.

    That business of trotting out the DVOA stats when Earl fell to the broken leg is as specious an argument as pinning the loss of SB 49 on not handing the ball to Lynch. The worst of Monday morning “logic”. Looking at four years of stats on Lynch shows he was only 45% successful in scoring from inside the two yard line………and that’s supposed to be the go to play? A look at the pre-snap alignments showed the Pats absolutely stacked to defend a Lynch run……….as was likely the case for most opponents that led to that 45% rate. The pass failed because it wasn’t executed perfectly (admittedly difficult to do). It’s very similar for the outcomes when Earl was out. The team lacked the ability to execute due to inadequate replacement personnel, and/or inadequate coaching to adjust/scheme to the talent available, and to a degree the change in chemistry thing.

    If the argument is that because Earl is so good we need to go out and recruit talent to build around him, that I could easily agree with. But that takes us back to limited assets to make that happen. We (at least in theory if we can find willing dance partners) can free up much more asset value in trading Thomas than we can in any other team player (with the probable exception of Wilson). Where else on the team can we regain/free up sufficient value that is comparable? Or, we bite the bullet, keep him as a foundational player and accept that we’ll continue to be a relative mediocre team that will be “rebuilding” for some number of years.

    Reply
    • hawkdawg

      Uncle Bob, the difference between 1) the team with Thomas and 2) the team without Thomas and with an extra second round pick, as the article suggests we’d get for trading him, is nowhere near the difference between “relative mediocrity” and something significantly better, in the short or even medium term.

      If that is really what the market is suggesting–Earl for a second round pick–then the answer is crystal clear, at least to me: extend him.

      Reply
      • hawkdawg

        And, just for yucks, I never had a problem with not running Lynch in the SB. What I had a problem with was putting the game in the hands of a 5th string receiver by throwing into the teeth of a stacked defense on a pass play that required Kearse to neutralize Browner–the biggest, most physical CB in the league.

        Pass v. Run was always debatable, which is why Pete did his level best to keep the discussion on that particular debate in the aftermath. THAT pass vs. virtually any other pass they could have called was the issue he avoided like the plague, and for good reason.

      • Uncle Bob

        dawg man, I doubt there’s much disagreement between us that a second round pick is lean compensation. If that is/were the case that tells you how comparatively invaluable the rest of our players are if in fact Thomas is our most valuable (again excluding Russ). But it’s also the nature of the pick; if it were a Browns or Giants second rounder it would be much more valuable than say a Patriots (native) second rounder. The known floor in the unlikely event that Earl plays out his current deal with no extension is a 3rd round comp, not nearly as valuable as a second. Keeping the value of Earl intact leaves us with less ammunition to wheel and deal, JS may be able to pull some rabbits out of his beanie and make us all proud………..we can hope anyway.

      • Doug

        It isn’t just a 2nd round pick… it is (potentially) a 2nd and the CAP SPACE. I would love to see ETIII retire as a Seahawk but I can also see why trading him would make sense–and it is ironic that the cause of NOT extending ETIII would be the extension given to Chancellor. Chancellor’s dead money in 2018 hamstrings the team quite a bit.

        It looks like the Seahawks are releasing Sherman (although they may re-sign him to a lower deal if no one will step up with an offer given his injury/operations). I can see the Seahawks wanting to keep Earl for next year at least just to support what will be a very young CB group.

        Either way, it is going to be a very different D this year, but not necessarily worse than what we saw in 2017.

    • andy

      Good points but using the analogy of statistics in referencing the SB debacle, then that STUPID pass play had less than 45% chance to succeed if you consider the two most important variables- RW and RL. Let’s see, pass plays in that area under RW’s era- he had 3 tds, all to TEs, which I remembered two were off a broken play. RW’s red zone efficiency has been on the decline going to that SB. RL never had a target in the red zone area, never had more than 15 targets in the season prior to that debacle loss. If we go by ‘statistics” then I’d rather pick the 45% successful rate rather than less than 5-10% one (I am being generous) unless you are praying for a miracle. Regardless, one of the STUPIDEST CALLS in the SB has cost this team big time. This is one of the reasons Seattle is rebuilding.

      Reply
  2. Hawkman

    Young and hungry on D- experience and savy on O- That is the recipe – Now get a Quality Guard in FA and move Ifedi nback to RG and let him see if he can win a job and move Pocic to Rt and fight it out with Fant !!! Draft another Guard , and the rest mostly D! DT, DE and then it’s fill intime with LB for future and depth !

    Reply
    • AustinHawk

      hawkman! Yes!, yes!, yes!, yes!….i believe thats the plan as well. Having a change in coaching (OC & OL) hopefully will see the same thing (about your offensive points), its also exactly what i see & think they should do as well. My view is from the couch so im hoping their view is even better, but it seems obvious! Luke “the joke” Joekel was trash from the start! Ifedi seemed to just not be prepared or have the ability as a Tackle (possibly coaching, possibly talent, or both?), but his power and size with lack of quick feet seem to fit better at the gaurd position (seems an nfl OL coach would notuce this). From what ive heard there are 3 pretty solid sounding gaurds(1 gaurd/center- Ohio st.) that would be great to get. In the past 2 days ive already heard some vet. olinemen getting cut as well. If we have to cut salary/trade for picks to open up the room & options for signing vet and drafting a COLLEGE GAURD TO PLAY GAURD IN THE NFL im 100% for it!- they have proved they know defensive palyers to draft, SO LETS GET OLINE & RUN GAME GOING! 1ST AND FORMOST! IF THAT HAPPENS ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! With no Jimmy, Bennett, Sherman, Lane, Shead, Richardson believe we can afford to extend earl and resign Sheldon as well as extend LT Brown & still be good on vet. Gaurd, DE, WR- draft rest as well as bring in as many undrafted freeagenta as well- 2011/2012 like! Go hawks….2018 may feel like a huge step back, but im confident its just us stopping to tie our shoes to make ourselves ready for another run!

      Reply
  3. Hawkman

    Heard today that Sherm maybe gone – If that is true it is STUPID and a HUGE mistake !!! He will be 30 end of march and am sure he has two to three great years left in the tank !!!! Dumb, Dumb, Dumb !!!

    Reply
  4. Hawkman

    Uncle Bob – first post- The Hawks are at least 11-5 if they have a decent kicker last year , with all the injuries! That is not mediocre or in need of a complete overhaul at this time. To get younger in stride is only a smart move but not in huge idiotic steps !
    Like kicking to the curb Earl or Sherman !

    Reply
    • Uncle Bob

      Thank you, that’s the best argument I expected might be offered. Yes, the kicking game was weak, but as always, if you recall those games where the missed kicks were roughly equal to the loss point value, most of us commented there were other factors in the game that were at fault that left the slim margin for error. But lets say that Walsh made a couple of those and the 11 – 5 happened. Does anybody realistically think the Hawks were, overall, good enough to get past the first round of the playoffs? Injuries, in general, aren’t the result of choices (such as switching kickers), they’re in the “bad luck” category, but also are not unexpected in a tough, physical game like football. The best preparation/contingency for that is the best quality depth you can afford (key word). My reference of mediocre is couched in relative terms. They’re awarded a draft pick just a tick off of the very middle of the pack…………the definition of mediocre. The Rams and Niners are no longer the doormats of a couple seasons ago (and also not all conquering…….yet). If the drubbing the Rams gave the Hawks toward season end meant anything it is that the Seahawks had to up their game considerably (but not panic).

      I suspect you’re being a touch dramatic in a loyal fan way with the “kick to the curb” reference. Those of us that think ETIII should be in the “trade for value” mix aren’t advocating “kicking”, but rather leveraging a valuable asset in exchange for other valuable assets that have the potential of a longer term return. Now, all the hubbub yesterday with Sherm might look like curb kicking. I’m in the “let’s wait and see…” camp, I don’t trust much of the hurry to market reportage we see nowadays. Last year at this time I was saying similar things about extracting value from Sherm much as I advocate this year for Thomas. I think they asked just a bit too much and missed a chance to capitalize on the richest freshman group of defensive backs we’ve seen in years. There was no predicting his injury as a factor in devaluing his market exchange potential, but he also probably wouldn’t ever be as potentially valuable as he was last year. To me, there’s a lesson/message in that experience that could be valuable when measuring the offers they may be getting on Thomas. Don’t panic and give him away, but don’t cut of your nose by getting greedy either. Now we’ve got Sherm MAYBE at a point where the only gain is salary cap space…..with no sugar in the exchange (draft pick or player). This was probably complicated by his choosing to be his own agent. He can’t solicit info to determine his actual market value without risking tampering charges for the teams he’d contact (an agent isn’t supposed to do it either, but they aren’t in the direct a to b path so can be sneaky about it). PC/JS may be doing a friendly/honorable thing by cutting him (if that’s really what is planned), free him up to test his value. Maybe there’s enough mutual respect that once Sherm has done his due diligence he’ll give them “first right of refusal” and remain with the team at a friendlier price. We’ll see. I suspect JS has a good feel for Sherm’s market value from discussions at the Combine. These boys play a high stakes game every day…………..

      Reply
      • Doug

        I basically agree with you Uncle Bob. If there is effectively no trade value for Sherman right now given his contract, the logical thing to do is cut him–but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is ‘gone’. It allows Sherman to shop himself for the best deal he can get with a team/coaches he wants to play for and if he finds out there isn’t much of a market he may very well come back to the Seahawks on a one-year deal.

        As for ETIII it might come down to a defensive philosophy point of view. Do they want to build the best front 7 they can (resign Sheldon, get Jordan under contract, hope Malik gets right and draft another DT and DE; sign a F/A versatile LB) and hope to take the pressure off the back end by putting the pressure on the opposition QB OR try to develop LOB 2.0? The first option allows for trading ETIII for picks; the second option means ETIII needs to be extended to support a developing DB room.

        If the NFL change the PI foul to a 15 yard penalty instead of a spot foul then I can see value going the “front 7” approach coupled with a fast, aggressive DB group. ETIII would not be essential in that case.

  5. JoeB

    The key will have to be, can the Hawks create a new LOB in the next few years? If so, ETIII fits with those plans. Losing Sherman today means a replacement will have to come from the draft, if not two (Lane’s gone, too). Now, to cover the interim, Maxwell and Shead become essential resignings, giving JS a year to reload. Looks mediocre at best to me.

    Reply
  6. JoeB

    I’ve decided that maybe a lost season is what’s needed to reload this team with high-level players at all the same time. Trade some of this year’s picks for higher ones over the next two or three years. Trade middle talent or older good players for future draft picks. Draft positions that take time to develop (line, usually). Don’t tank on purpose, but a couple 4-12 seasons and stocked up draft picks might mean a second shot at some SBs, instead of endless 9-7, 8-8 seasons.

    Reply

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