For months, star safety Earl Thomas and the Seattle Seahawks have been heading towards an inevitable split.
After all, the disgruntled Thomas went into the Cowboys locker room telling coach Jason Garrett to sign him late in the 2017 season, held out of offseason activities and training camp seeking a new contract, and gave the Seahawks sideline the bird as he was carted off the field with a broken leg in Arizona.
With the relationship between the front office and the perennial All-Pro seemingly fractured beyond repair, Seattle allowed Thomas to become an unrestricted free agent and seek one more lucrative pay day elsewhere.
Based on comments from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider at the Scouting Combine, the organization hasn’t had any discussions with Thomas or his representatives since his 2018 season ended prematurely in September.
But according to former NFL cornerback Will Blackmon, who spent time with the Seahawks in 2013 and 2015, Thomas may still have interest in returning to Seattle.
“You know what’s crazy? I would love to see the Jaguars go all in and sign both Nick Foles and Earl, especially because they’re win-now ready and they can afford both." Blackmon said while interviewing with ESPN 710. "But I don’t know… I heard some conversations, rumors that he may possibly want to come back.”
Before taking Blackmon’s words too seriously, it’s worth noting Thomas and his representatives may have spawned these rumors hoping to drum up interest from teams such as the 49ers and Cowboys, two suitors that have been linked to him for several months. That’s the nature of business in today’s NFL.
Given how badly the bridge has been burned between the Seahawks and Thomas, it still seems improbable the two sides could reconcile their differences enough to lead to a surprise deal.
But on the flip side, there may be some truth to the idea that Thomas overestimated his value as a free agent. As pointed out by analyst John Clayton, he reportedly has been seeking $15 million per year and to this point, many teams looking for safety help have already signed another player.
As examples, the Chiefs signed Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year deal worth $42 million, the Redskins signed Landon Collins for a whopping $84 million over six years, and the Texans replaced Mathieu by signing Tashaun Gipson at a cheaper price, among other deals.
The Cowboys and 49ers still remain in play as teams needing safety help who could pursue Thomas, but they may not be willing to budge when it comes to Thomas’s asking price. Coming off two broken legs in three years and set to turn 30 years old next season, he may not be in as high of demand as he anticipated heading into free agency, which opens the door for the Seahawks to make him a competitive offer.
Ultimately, it still seems like a stretch Thomas will ever play another down in a Seahawks uniform after how poorly things ended last year. Both sides seem content with moving on without one another.
But if Thomas is forced to accept a deal for less due to age and injury history, it’s not out of the realm of possibility Seattle could re-emerge as a potential landing spot in coming days. At the very least, if Blackmon's intel has any truth to it, what seemed virtually impossible a few days ago isn't quite as far fetched now.