Unfortunate Earl: How the NFL's Best Safety Lost Millions on One Play

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas was holding out. The best safety in the NFL caught some criticism from some places, praise from others. As is customary in the NFL, if you outplay your contract's dollar figure, you hold out to avoid injury in the final year of said contract. Get your money, or risk not getting paid later. 

Thomas caved. He returned to the Seahawks before Week 1, albeit unhappy. On Sunday, his fear became reality. And everyone who has ever held out in the final year of a contract (Le'Veon Bell) let out a resounding "I told you." 

The Injury

Thomas broke his leg on Sunday against the Cardinals. As he was carted off, he gave the middle finger to his own sideline, aiming it directly at head coach Pete Carroll. 

What Happens Now

It's pretty simple. Thomas' year is done. His contract will come to an end. As a free agent in 2019, he'll be lucky if a team gives him a contract -- to an injured, aging safety -- worth anything near what he deserves. 

To be fair to the Seahawks, they gave Thomas a 4-year, $40 million contract back in 2014, making him the highest paid safety in the league. But when that fourth year arrives and there's no future guarantees, you're faced with a dilemma; holdout and you're not a team player, or risk injury and lose out on millions. 

Thomas lost. Everyone lost. Players will use this situation as a measuring stick in future contract negotiations. And the once-feared Seattle secondary that boasted Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Thomas is now desolate. 

NFLJeff Yoder