Via Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune, Wagner said during a radio interview on KJR (with former Seahawk Cliff Avril) that the business realities of the NFL made him sympathetic to Thomas’ plight. The decorated safety has stayed away from all offseason workouts, and skipped the team’s mandatory minicamp.
“You’ve got to do what’s right for you,” Wagner said. “Because at the end of the day, whenever you are done they don’t care about you. You’ve got to get what you’ve got to get while you can. Because as soon as you can’t play, . . . ”
At that point, Avril added: “As soon as you get hurt.”
“Yeah,” Wagner replied. “As soon as you can’t play and they don’t want you no more, it’s over. So you’ve got to make the best of your opportunity.”
Thomas is entering the final year of his contract, and is underpaid by any tangible measure. But the Seahawks have also turned over their defense this offseason, with a number of veterans hitting the door. Thus, they might not be as eager to give the 29-year-old Thomas the kind of deal he wants. As a result, Wagner hedged when asked if he expected to see Thomas in camp.
“I mean, I don’t know. It’s up to him and management to figure that out,” Wagner said. “You don’t want to get into a person’s contract. . . . At the end of the day, they are trying to figure out a way to best provide for their family. You are involved, to a certain extent, but he’s trying to take care of his family. And you want him to put himself in the best position to take care of his family. So whatever that looks like, whatever that is, that’s between him and the management.
“Do I hope comes? I do. I hope he comes. But I’m not necessarily focused on that, because I understand both sides. I understand wanting him here. And I understand the business aspect, which is not good for players. Like, we have contracts that don’t necessarily favor us all the time. So you have to do what’s right for you.”
Of course, there’s also the possibility the Seahawks trade Thomas (that chatter hasn’t died down), and let someone else deal with the contractual unpleasantness. And if that happens, they’ll say it was just business.