With talks that the Seahawks are really serious about moving on from Earl Thomas I wanted to take a look at the impact that would have on the defense, the team as a whole and who could be potential suitors in a trade.
It’s being said that Seattle is looking at a first round pick and a third round pick as compensation to trade to All Pro free safety who will be entering a contract year in 2018. With that said though, Earl has been very clear that he wants a new contract which is pretty normal for a player of his calibre, he wants security after all. So why doesn’t Seattle extend him? Well…
I firmly believe they have tried and I don’t think for a second the team is concerned about the actual dollars per year (something between $13-14M in my humble opinion), but the amount of guarantees in the contract. Seattle got burnt hard with Kam Chancellor and his $12M in injury guarantees and, thankfully, they seem to be learning from their mistake. The Kam extension was a bit of a head scratcher from the start however it is what it is and the team are now suffering because of it, they’re likely not prepared to risk their jobs by putting themselves in exactly the same situation on the very next big extension. Earl will want lots of guaranteed money and the team aren’t prepared to give it up, it’s as simple as that.
So what do you do when you know you can’t get an extension done? Move the player of course, and that’s exactly what the team seem to be doing as has been reported over the last 24 hours, multiple teams are interested which puts John Schneider in a fantastic position to pick the best offer both from a trade value point of view as well as the best team in terms of potentially doing damage to Seattle as a hole. If the Rams were offering a 1st and a 2nd and the Steelers were offering a 1st and a 5th, I’d take the Steelers offer ten times out of ten to keep Earl in the AFC.
It's also worth pointing out that not a single safety (at least to my knowledge) has been signed in free agency, it seems a whole lot of teams are waiting to see what happens with Earl, it's the most likely scenario for the market stall of safeties.
So who could be the potential trade partner? There’s quite a few, actually.
The picks – Round 1 #11 + Round 3 #73
The Dolphins could be a potential suitor for sure. They will have the cap space as well with the gutting of the roster that we’ve seen them do over the last few days.
Pick 11 overall as well as their 3rd (73rd overall) would be a fantastic take for them as well as moving Earl to the AFC. It seems Adam Gase, the Dolphins head coach wants to put his own identify on the ‘Phins, having Earl cover the back third could be just the thing he needs to restore some fan support after all their recent moves.
The picks – Round 1 #17 + Round 3 #84
The Chargers have a roster that is actually pretty stacked, but they could absolutely use Earl Thomas in their defense given they don’t have a single free safety under contract currently. They’d not exactly in cap heaven, though, with a little over $15,000,000 in available spends, they’d likely have to move some money around to get it done, which is very possible. Russell Okung, Phillip Rivers or Melvin Ingram could potentially restructure their contracts.
The picks – Round 1 #19 + Round 3 #81
This has been the most talked about trade partner given Earls comments to head coach Jason Garrett on Christmas eve. However, they are currently severely lacking in cap space. Dez Bryant would be as good as gone ($8,500,000 in cap savings if cut or $12,500,000 if cut with a June 1st designation). If the team gives Earl any say in this, this would be his number one choice.
The picks - ???
Although the Bills could use Earl, I’m certain they will be packaging both their 12th overall and 22nd overall to move up for a quarterback this draft. They do have the cap space, though. I doubt this would happen though given their need at QB.
The picks – Round 1 #24 + Round 3 #85 OR #88
Alternatively – Round 2 #55 + Round 3 #85 + Round 3 #88
The Panthers actually have two third round picks this year so I wouldn’t be too shocked if they gave them both up plus their second, I’m not convinced it would be the best offer on the table, though. They currently have nearly $18,000,000 in available cap space so could afford him, but would likely convert a current rostered players base salary into signing bonus to lower their cap hit and rise their available money.
The picks – Round 1 #28 + Round 3 #92
The Steelers are another possibility as they have a need at free safety however as things stand, really don’t have the cap space for him. (whispers – they do have Antonio Brown, though). Currently they have $2,724,015 in available money so they’d need to make some big changes however they do have the resources to do it with a restructure or two of their current roster.
My left field suggestion -
The Picks - Round 1 #4 and Seattle sends Earl + Round 1 #18
This is an intriguing one, the above trade would have Earl valued at a mid to late first rounder which sounds about right, I doubt the Browns would have to send another pick to get Schneider to pull the trigger. This trade could very easily result in a franchise changing amount of capital. With QB needy teams wanting to jump in front to get their guy, Seattle could turn that 4th overall pick into an absolute haul. The Rams/Titans trade in 2016 netted the Titans two firsts, two seconds and two thirds! This trade is somewhat unlikely, however I wouldn't rule it out entirely. Admittedly the Rams traded up from #15 not #18 and for the first overall pick not the fourth, but with multiple trade backs from #4, Seattle could easily turn that pick into the same amount when it's all said and done.
The Texans and Chiefs also have a need however don’t have a first round pick this year, however I wouldn’t rule them out entirely, although not ideal, if they offered a 2019 1st plus extra to compensate for that it could happen.
It seems a trade is imminent at this point and I’d expect to hear more today from Ian Rapoport and the likes.
The Seahawks would be $8,500,000 better off with Earl not on the roster, too. Taking their current cap space up to $26,323,267. With Avril also off the books they’d have $33,448,267. The smart thing to do would be to use that money on extensions for the likes of Duane Brown/Frank Clark or Tyler Lockett but it would open up the possibility of both Suh and Richardson on the defensive line, however I doubt that comes to fruition.
One things for sure, this team is going to look a whole lot different!