Thomas is done, Sherman is next

Earl Thomas is in. Richard Sherman likely will be soon. The Seattle Seahawks are making the moves they said they would make to secure their future.

News broke Monday that Thomas had reached a four-year extension with the Seahawks that will make him the highest paid safety in the NFL as the first $10-million a year man at his position.

Team officials also are believed to be close to reaching an extension with Sherman that likely will make him the highest paid cornerback in the game, somewhere north of $12 million a year.

This is the payoff for the moves earlier that forced the Seahawks to release defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, along with seeing receiver Golden Tate sign with the Detroit Lions.

But general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll said all along they had a plan to keep the key young players they needed to keep without ruining the team's salary structure.

Most of Thomas' new deal won't start until 2015 and runs through the 2018 season when Thomas will be 29. He's in the final year of a contract that will pay him $4.6 million in 2014 and count $5.5 million against the salary cap.

The Seahawks are $14.7 million under the cap for now. Obviously, some of that money will go to Thomas up front but most of his new deal is backloaded, including $27.7 million that is guaranteed.

Sherman's extension will be next. Could the Seahawks have a news conference for both players on the same day?

The Seahawks want to get Sherman's new deal out of the way before they have to renegotiate Russell Wilson's new contract after the 2014 season. Those three deals will count somewhere between $35 million and $40 million against the salary cap.

What that means is a few starting players on the team now won't be on the team after 2014. But the Seahawks are doing a remarkable job of playing the salary-cap game well to keeping the nucleus of elite players that won the Super Bowl.