RENTON, Wash. (AP) For the second time in four seasons, the Seattle Seahawks have started training camp with a star safety absent because of his contract situation.
This one may not end as amicably as the last time.
In an offseason already filled with big name departures, the Seahawks opened camp Thursday without safety Earl Thomas, who is trying to force the hand of the only franchise he’s played for in his attempt to get a new contract.
Thomas’ current deal runs through the end of the upcoming season. He announced his intentions in June to skip any team activities until Seattle addressed his long-term security and he held true to that statement by skipping the mandatory minicamp and not showing up for the Seahawks’ first practice.
While Thomas’ teammates seemed to understand what he is doing, coach Pete Carroll seemed less than thrilled to be facing another prolonged holdout.
”We always expected him to be here. That’s kind of how it is. He should be here and he’s not,” Carroll said. ”It’s really about the guys that are here and we’re going to keep moving and grooving and putting it together. It’s unfortunate.”
If this feels familiar, it’s because the Seahawks went down this road before the start of the 2015 season with safety Kam Chancellor. Chancellor unexpectedly decided to hold out as he also sought a new contract even with three years remaining on his deal. Seattle never budged from its position, causing a contrite Chancellor to finally report after the second week of the regular season.
Chancellor eventually got a new contract before the 2017 season.
Thomas may not be as fortunate, especially considering some of his antics late last season indicating he wanted out of Seattle, and one social media post in particular where he asked the Seahawks to trade him if he wasn’t getting a new contract.
”We’re expecting him back. He’s under contract,” Carroll said.
But so many of the familiar faces that defined Seattle’s roster for the past half-decade were gone. Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Jimmy Graham all have new addresses. Chancellor is unlikely to play again due to a neck injury and had to be placed on the reserve/PUP list Thursday as a procedural move due to his contract. Cliff Avril, another standout in recent seasons, was on the sideline as a sports talk radio co-host with his own neck injury clouding his chances of ever playing again.
Hanging over it all is uncertainty about Thomas, the last player still on Seattle’s roster from the first draft class under Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Bradley McDougald and Tedric Thompson were both getting time at free safety with Thomas absent. McDougald is expected to be the replacement for Chancellor at strong safety, but has played both safety positions in the past. Thompson is entering his second season after being a fourth-round pick out of Colorado a year ago.
”Right now we can’t focus on him. He’s not here. He has our support but we’ve got to focus on who is here and make sure those guys get right and make sure we’re doing everything we can for the guys that are here,” Wagner said. ”I’ve voiced my support. I understand this is a tough business. Like I said before, it’s not a business that is necessarily in favor of the players … but we’ve got to focus on what we’ve got right now.”
NOTES: Seattle has injury concerns on the defensive line from the start. DE Dion Jordan has an undisclosed injury and is starting camp on the physically unable to perform list after a career that’s been filled with knee issues. DE Frank Clark had surgery on his wrist over the summer and will be limited at the start of camp. Defensive line is one of the big questions for Seattle after losing Avril, Bennett and Sheldon Richardson in the offseason. … TE Ed Dickson is starting camp on the non-football injury list due to a groin injury suffered during his offseason workouts, Carroll said. … Seattle released DL Malik McDowell and CB DeAndre Elliott. McDowell, a 2017 second-round pick, never played a down for the team following an ATV accident. McDowell was released with a non-football injury designation, while Elliott failed his physical. … Seattle claimed TE Kyle Carter off waivers from the New York Giants.
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