The comment and Thomas' situation with the Seahawks deserve a closer look. Here are some thoughts.
Earl being Earl? Thomas is a different guy. He donned a crown and a cape at his wedding. He has referred to his "inner voice" and will share deep thoughts even in casual conversations about football. He hugged an official after a touchdown last season. It's tempting to dismiss what Thomas did Sunday as a case of Earl being Earl, but it felt different. The timing was bad. Thomas -- who grew up in Orange, Texas, and has been a lifelong Cowboys fan -- is certainly not the first player to have a strong interest in one day playing for his hometown team. Players usually don't express that interest to an opposing coach moments after a game while their own team is still fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Thomas deserves credit for not ducking reporters or giving evasive answers to questions about his "come get me" comment. But the comment itself feels problematic.
Context for Thomas' contract situation. In clarifying his comment to Garrett, Thomas said he was referring to whenever Seattle "kicks me to the curb," a phrase he used more than once. Thomas seems to have the impression that the Seahawks may be ready to move on from him. It's not clear why. He's signed through 2018 and is still playing at an All-Pro level, so he's in no danger whatsoever of being released this offseason. Thomas didn't state explicitly that the Seahawks have yet to begin negotiations on an extension, but his comments strongly implied that's the case. The Seahawks' M.O. under general manager John Schneider has been to not sign players to extensions until they're in or entering the final year of their contract. That's when they extended the likes of Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor (twice), Bobby Wagner, Doug Baldwin, K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril. Michael Bennett's most recent extension with Seattle's current regime was an exception. He signed it last December, when he had just over a year left on his existing deal. So if the Seahawks have yet to start talking about an extension with Thomas, it could simply be in keeping with their preferred way of operating.
No obvious replacement. Thomas said this when pressed about whether the Seahawks have approached him about an extension: "I don't want to get too deep into it, but it's a business, and we have great young guys coming in. And you just never know." Thomas' comment about "great young guys" implies the Seahawks have an in-house replacement waiting to take his spot. They do not. They drafted four defensive backs this year, including safeties Delano Hill in the third round and Tedric Thompson in the fourth. Hill is a strong safety. Thompson is a free safety but has shown nothing over his rookie season to suggest he'd be a viable full-time replacement for Thomas. Free-agent pickup Bradley McDougald has played well while filling in at both safety spots, first when Thomas missed time with a hamstring injury and currently for Chancellor at strong safety. Chancellor's football future is up in the air because of a neck injury. Re-signing McDougald is shaping up to be an offseason priority for Seattle, but that may be to take over for Chancellor, not Thomas.
Eyes on Berry's deal. The Seahawks made Thomas the NFL's highest-paid safety when they gave him a four-year, $40 million extension in 2014. Mike Silver of NFL.com reported recently that Thomas may seek a raise that matches or surpasses the $13 million average of Kansas City's Eric Berry, who's now the league's highest-paid free safety. That should surprise no one. Thomas took note of the six-year, $78 million deal Berry signed over the offseason. He pointed to that as one of his motivations for shaking off thoughts of retirement after he broke his leg last December. Thomas can credibly argue that he's worth that type of money. Will the Seahawks agree? He was just named to his sixth Pro Bowl and could be a first-team All-Pro selection for the fourth time in his career. While he turns 29 in May, he's still playing at a high enough level to remain one of the centerpieces of the Seahawks' defense even if the team moves on from some of its other, older mainstays on that side of the ball. In fact, it's hard to imagine Seattle's defense without Thomas when you see him dart across the field to make plays that few if any other players can make. But as Thomas said, you never know.