As the Seahawks conduct their annual mandatory minicamp, a key member of the defense remain absent, vowing to stay away until uncertainties regarding his contract (he has one season left) are resolved.
Quarterback Russell Wilson, who with two years left on his deal may be closing in on a contract showdown of his own with the team, addressed the situation on Tuesday while trying to avoid making any comments about his teammate’s business affairs.
“Earl is our brother,” Wilson told reporters. “He’s one of the best players to ever step on the football field. I think you have to credit him for all the amazing things he has done for our organization, as a teammate, as a player, as a friend. I’m super close with Earl. Obviously we wish he was here, he’s one of the best players in the world and it’s always great if he’s on the field. That’s a better thing for us if he’s on the field just because he’s a great player. When it comes to people’s contracts those are business deals that each person is different, it’s a business, it’s a part of the situation. Unfortunately he’s not out here because you have a great friend and a great player and you want him out here for that.”
While Wilson didn’t want to talk about the Thomas contract, Wilson was willing to say that the player’s absence has meaning.
“I think it matters, obviously, he’s one of your best players on the team,” Wilson said. “I know more than anything else, Earl knows how to prepare. There’s no better player in terms of safety [position], and really out of most of the defensive players I’ve ever played that knows how to prepare better than him. I’m not concerned about his preparation, you know he’ll translate that and be ready to play when it’s time. Hopefully we can get him out here. He makes our team a better football team. He’s a great player. We have great guys that can step up and the good thing about the young guys, like Tedric Thompson, those guys get to step in and learn a little bit more. Bradley [McDougald] is a great player, we got other guys that can step in, learn, and get those extra reps and play at a great level. But you’re talking about a Hall of Fame player so you’d love for him to be out here.”
So how will it all end?
“I don’t know,” Wilson said. “I can’t talk about people’s contracts. It has nothing to do with me and trying to figure that out. Ultimately he’s a great friend and a great teammate so I hope that he can get out here.”
But Thomas says he won’t be getting out there without a new contract, which may come only if he’s traded to a new team. At a time when the Seahawks have made major changes on defense, swapping out big contracts and cap numbers for younger players, the team may not be willing to make the kind of commitment necessary to make Thomas willing to sign a deal that will ensure his presence on the roster beyond 2018.