Earl Thomas reportedly told Mark Davis to come get him in Las Vegas. The Oakland Raiders owner would be smart to listen to the safety by making a trade.
Thomas is currently holding out for a new contract. Even before that, it seemed the Seahawks might move on from Thomas. Seattle is transitioning as they move on from Thomas’ marquee teammates like Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and the retired Kam Chancellor. The Cowboys were rumored to trade for Thomas due to his roots in the state.
Thomas has 25 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles in 121 career games. The 29-year-old missed three games over the last two regular seasons. His salary is over $10 million this season and his contract expires after this season.
What would it take to get Thomas?
Current Raiders and former Seahawks edge Bruce Irvin already weighed in on the possibility of adding Thomas. He said E.T. Is his big dog but he would rather pay Khalil Mack than trade for the safety. What if the Raiders could do both?
Now, the Raiders only have about $2 million in cap space. That could change incrementally by parting ways with veteran backups like E.J. Manuel, Athyba Rubin, Leon Hall and others like them. A million here or there adds up
Oakland could also part ways with bigger roster pieces who would free up larger sums of cap like Donald Penn or Jared Cook. Both veterans might occupy key roles now but the previous regime brought them in so they could be phased out.
Added, the Raiders could add more cap space by signing Khalil Mack to an extension. They could lower his cap hit this year by giving Mack more money on the back end and over the length of his new extension.
Theoretically, those are all ways Oakland can clear cap space for Thomas. Of course, they would have to send compensation to Seattle in a trade. It was rumored that the Cowboys offered Seattle a second round pick for the safety.
The Seahawks could face the reality of losing Thomas for nothing after the season or letting him hold out this season. Either way, getting a second round pick is a better alternative.
Further, consider that the Raiders have not been great in round two. Outside of Derek Carr, Mario Edwards Jr. is the only player you could point to as a solid contributor. The jury is still out on our last two round two selections, Obi Melifonwu and PJ Hall, but Menelik Watson and Jihad Ward are two picks who are not even with the team anymore.
The point is, a second round pick is more than a fair price for an impact player like Thomas. Oakland should not let the crap shoot that is a draft selection prevents them from getting a playmaker like Thomas in their secondary.
How would Thomas fit with the Raiders?
Oakland could also include one of their younger safeties in the deal for Earl Thomas. Perhaps adding Karl Joseph or Obi Melifonwu into the deal lowers the draft asset Seattle would require moving Thomas.
Moving Joseph in the trade would be ideal. Joseph makes more than Melifonwu, which would make it easier for Oakland to absorb Thomas’ salary. Further, Joseph and Thomas are around the same size. Both Joseph and Thomas could combine for a hybrid safety duo that can both ball hawk and deliver punishment.
However, there is no real precedent for having two safeties start together when they are both under six-feet tall. That means teaming Thomas with Melifonwu makes more sense. Melifonwu earned comparisons to Thomas’ former teammate Chancellor due to his size and athleticism coming out of college. Melifonwu would play the linebacker safety role which would free up Thomas to provide coverage support to the safeties as well as roam and make plays on the ball.
Adding Thomas gives the Raiders a real playmaker in the secondary. The Silver and Black will not have to rely on an aging Reggie Nelson to find the fountain of youth as a starting safety. Raider Nation would not have to wait until Week 12 for our first interception either. The corners could play more aggressive with Thomas bringing support. Oakland’s defense would be able to create more turnovers as a whole.
Obviously, boosting the pass defense with Thomas’ addition also improves the pass rush and run defense. Thomas is the sort of leader and communicator who brings Super Bowl experience that boosts the entire unit. Not to mention, the linebackers and pass rushers will get an added boost getting after the quarterback since they know they have a safety who can take the ball away. Thomas also covers so much of the field that the other safety and defensive backs can help in run support since they know Thomas can help them out.
Does Thomas make sense for the Raiders?
Ultimately, E.T. wants a new contract. That is the only reason this is even a possibility. Oakland can play it two ways. They can tell him to play out the final year of the deal to see how he adapts to a new team and city. This way Oakland can assess Thomas’ value and the safety can maintain his right to test the market after this season. Thomas can determine how much he likes Oakland in a one-year trial.
On the other hand, the Raiders could give Thomas a long-term contract. They are already in negotiations with Khalil Mack so Thomas’ negotiations might not be a priority.
Nonetheless, they might be able to work out a deal that stretches Thomas’ big salary this year into a more manageable number over the next few seasons. Thomas might also be willing to work with the Raiders if they give up a draft pick to go get him instead of waiting for his possible addition in free agency.
Sure, Thomas is approaching 30 but he has not showed too many signs of slowing down. He is certainly younger than Nelson who has started the past two seasons despite being in the twilight of his career. E.T. also fits into the future at safety if the Raiders do decide to move Joseph in the trade to get Thomas.
Moreover, Gruden has already added many veterans like Derrick Johnson to this roster. Clearly, this regime values the experience of veteran players. Therefore, they should be willing to make a move for a Super Bowl winning player like Thomas who can help transform the culture.
Will the Raiders trade for Thomas?
At the end of the day, the Raiders have a need in the defens