RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Seahawks safety Earl Thomas ended his lengthy holdout in time for the start of the regular season, even without the long-term contract he was seeking.
Thomas showed up at the Seahawks facility Wednesday morning and was welcomed back by his teammates. Coach Pete Carroll said he met briefly with Thomas, but wouldn’t commit to whether Thomas would play in the opener Sunday against Denver.
“He’s been with us for so long. He’s just been part of the fabric of what we’ve been about,” Carroll said. “It’s an adjustment period as he jumps in with us right now and we’ll figure out how that works. ... I don’t have any thought about what to share with you right now because we have to see what he does and how he feels and all that stuff, but it’s great to have him back.”
Thomas posted to Instagram Wednesday announcing his return, saying he’s never let his “teammates, city or fans down as long as I have lived and don’t plan to start this weekend.”
The post was a surprising conclusion to a long offseason of drama centered on whether Thomas would play out the final season of his contract, receive the extension he hoped for, or possibly be traded. Thomas’ reaction to the lack of a resolution was clear in his post: “The disrespect has been noted and will not be forgotten.”
“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 wrote.
For the moment, Carroll put an end to the speculation about whether Thomas would possibly be traded, saying “He’s a Seahawk. He’s always been and will be one forever.”
Thomas held out from Seattle’s entire offseason program, mandatory minicamp and training camp. He has sought certainty over his long-term future and used social media to make his case during the offseason. By reporting, Thomas won’t miss any game checks — $500,000 per game — and he shores up a defense that saw many of its more prominent players depart in the offseason for a variety of reasons. Thomas, one of the top safeties in the NFL, is scheduled to make $8.5 million in base salary for the upcoming season.
His teammates understood what Thomas was trying to accomplish by holding out.
“I think football is football, business is business. That’s coach Carroll and John Schneider, that’s business,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “At the end of the day you can’t really hate a person for wanting to provide for his family. That’s how I look at it. He’s been playing at a high level, he wanted more money. That’s kind of on them.”
Thomas is a three-time first-team All-Pro and was the anchor for the Seattle defense that appeared in consecutive Super Bowls, winning the first. Aside from suffering a broken leg late in the 2016 season, Thomas has been a durable starter from the time he arrived in the league. He has missed just seven regular-season games in his career.
In a post for The Players’ Tribune earlier this summer, Thomas wrote that he was shaken by the injuries suffered by Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor — two other members of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary — in a Thursday night game last season. Sherman ruptured his Achilles tendon, ending his season, and Chancellor suffered a neck injury. Sherman was released by Seattle in the offseason and signed with San Francisco. Chancellor — while not officially retired — is not expected to play again because of the injury.
With Thomas out, Seattle has used Tedric Thompson as its primary free safety. Thompson missed the final preseason game with a shoulder stringer and rib injury suffered a week earlier, but was in line to start the opener.