Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas explained his reasons for holding out Thursday, writing for The Players' Tribune that he deserves to be paid accordingly as the only "Legion of Boom" mainstay still on the team.
He implied that he has taken a discount in the past to keep the Seahawks' storied secondary together,
Thomas has stated his "pay me or trade me" stance on social media, but Thursday's comments are the first time he has explained why he feels that way.
"The last contract I signed with Seattle, I did it with the Legion of Boom in mind," Thomas wrote. "I think our unit will be remembered as one of the greatest in history. And I wanted the team to be able to keep us together. But one by one, pretty much all of those guys have left -- and a lot of the time, not on great terms."
He said he loves Seattle, but last season's game against the Arizona Cardinals, in which Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman suffered career-altering injuries, showed Thomas how fragile a player's future in the NFL can be. Chancellor suffered a neck injury that ultimately ended his career. Sherman suffered an Achilles injury that ended his season and, as it turns out, his time with the Seahawks, as he was released after the 2017 season.
"... That Thursday night game really cemented in my mind the truth -- which is that your entire life can change on one play. And when it does, no matter what you've accomplished in the past ... you can still get cut without even so much as a negotiation. That's what happened to Sherm. One of the all-time greats. And I know it could happen to me too," Thomas wrote.
He also pointed to the case of linebacker Lofa Tatupu, whom he called the "heart of our defense." Tatupu was released after his sixth season because he wouldn't take a pay cut.
"I love Seattle. ... I also have learned why I need to take care of this business side of things. In the NFL, no matter what you've done or what you've accomplished, teams are constantly reminding you that you don't matter," Thomas wrote.
He also said other players have reached out to him since his tweets, including Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle, who had a messy ending with the Chargers when he was seeking a new contract.
"When he asked the team to make a commitment, they treated him like he was being selfish. All he wanted was the opportunity to finish his career where he started it. After a decade of grind, he just wanted some security. How is that selfish? I don't know, man. I just don't," Thomas wrote.
Thomas said he is working out on his own and has been "preparing my body all offseason to be at an NFL camp."
"In the end, it's like I said: If the Seahawks don't intend on having me around for the long-term, then I understand. And if they want to start over and rebuild, then that's their right -- it's part of the business. It's not what I want ... but I get it. All I ask, though, is that if that's the case, and they don't want me anymore -- just please trade me to an organization that does.
"Please trade me to a team that wants me, so I can give my all to them for the rest of my career," he wrote.
The Seahawks are not in negotiations with Thomas, and there has been nothing to indicate that they are interested in giving him an extension while his current deal has a season remaining. Thomas' current deal carries an $8.5 million salary in 2018.
ESPN's Brady Henderson contributed to this report.