Something’s up with Earl Thomas.
The already angry, disrespected All-Pro free safety was present Friday wearing a visor on the sidelines but did not practice for the second time in three days. It was a light, not-at-all-taxing walk-through before the Seahawks’ home opener against Dallas on Sunday.
The Seahawks listed the reason for Thomas not practicing was the same they gave Wednesday: NIR. That’s “not injury related.”
That in itself is no big deal. Veterans such as Thomas get rest days in the regular season all the time.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Tri-City Herald
But it’s what Carroll said, how he said it, and what he didn’t say about Thomas’ status that is cause for wonder. Especially because Sunday’s game is against a Cowboys team whose coach Thomas told outside Dallas’ locker room after a game in Texas this past Christmas Eve “come get me when Seattle kicks me to the curb.”
“Yeah, he couldn’t work today,” coach Pete Carroll said Friday of Thomas.
Carroll said Thomas did not have an injury or physical issue. Thomas played 65 of 66 plays for the Seahawks on defense Monday night in the loss at Chicago. That was his second game since he ended what essentially was an eight-month holdout two weeks ago. He had stayed away all winter, spring and summer into this month over bitterness about his expiring contract and the team not extending it to his liking, or trading him, by now.
Carroll was asked how Thomas came out of the Bears game physically.
“Fine,” the coach said. “Came out fine.”
Asked about Thomas’ availability for Sunday, Carroll said: “We’ll see how he’s doing. Make sure he’s OK.”
Is it injury related?
“No,” Carroll said. “He’s got some other stuff going on, that we are working on.
“Yes, it a personal nature. That’s why I’m not talking about it.”
Thomas was not at his locker in the time the team allotted to the media to be in there reporting following Friday’s practice.
Thursday, the only day this week the Seahawks listed Thomas as a full participant in practice, he politely declined The News Tribune’s request to talk to him about how he came out of the Bears game and about this game Sunday against his home-state Cowboys.
The Seahawks’ longest-tenured player—they drafted him in 2010, in the first round—told the TNT on his way out to the field when asked Thursday if he was OK: “Man, I’m just trying to get out here to practice.”
Thomas hasn’t talked to the media for interviews since after his first game back, Seattle’s opening loss at Denver Sept. 9.
“The disrespect has been well noted and will not be forgotten,” the 29-year-old Thomas wrote on Instagram Sept. 5 the day he ended his holdout and returned to the Seahawks for the first time since the 2017 season finale on New Year’s Eve.. “Father Time may have an undefeated record but best believe I plan on taking him into triple overtime when it comes to my career.”
Thomas has publicly demanded the Seahawks either give him the top-of-the-market contract extension beyond his current deal ending after the 2018 season, or trade him.
To this point, the Seahawks have done neither.
The trade deadline for the NFL’s 2018 league year is Oct. 30.
The Seahawks and general manager John Schneider have stood their ground of not wanting to re-up with Thomas at $13 million per year with $40 million guaranteed. That’s what Thomas’ draft classmate and safety Eric Berry got from Kansas City last summer, when Thomas said “there ain’t never enough of that.” Such a deal would run until Thomas was 33 or 34 years old, after the team would prorate his rich signing bonus across four or five years for salary-cap management.
Meanwhile multiple NFL teams, most prominently the Cowboys, have not come close in meeting the Seahawks’ demands for a first-round draft choice, another high-round pick and perhaps a veteran player. Schneider and Seattle have stood on the premise they have a future Hall-of-Fame talent under contract for this season, and they didn’t have to do anything short of another team backing up a Brinks truck of enticements to move off that position.
Asked if Thomas’ return changed the status of the Seahawks perhaps seeking a trade for Thomas, Carroll said: “He’s a Seahawk. He’s a Seahawk. He’s always been. I want him to be one forever. I’ve already said that.”
That didn’t exactly answer that. Or least did only in the metaphorical sense.