RENTON -- Free safety Earl Thomas is ending his contract hold out and reporting to the Seahawks on Wednesday.
Thomas, 29, has skipped all of the team's offseason workouts and preseason practices in hopes of leveraging a new contract from Seattle as he enters the final year of his contract with the club. He said at the Pro Bowl in January that he didn't see himself playing this season without a new deal and followed through by skipping all voluntary practices, the team's mandatory mini-camp in June and all of training camp.
"I want everyone especially the 12s to know that I want to remain a Seahawk for the rest of my career but I also believe that based on my production over the last 8 years that I’ve earned the right to have this taken care of as soon as possible," Thomas wrote in a Twitter posting in June.
"I want to have certainty in regards to the upcoming years of my career. I’m going to continue to work my craft and put in work so that I can add to the team and give us the best chance to win. I hope my teammates understand where I’m coming from I believe this is the right thing to do."
Thomas did not speak to reporters on Wednesday about his decision to return.
Thomas would have forfeited $500,000 a week in game checks should his hold out have continued into the regular season. That's in addition to $84,435 in fines for skipping the mini-camp, $40,000 a day he was absent in training camp and $475,000 in signing bonus money the team could demand returned as well. While the exact number is tough to say because it depends on which days counted against him, Thomas had been subject to over $1.5 million in fines from the team due to his absence.
However, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Seahawks have agreed to wipe away most of his fines accrued from the hold out.
"It's really good to have him back," head coach Pete Carroll said on Wednesday. "He's been with us for so long. He's been a part of the fabric of what we've been about. It's an adjustment period as he jumps in with us now. We'll figure out how that works and we'll get through it. He is already on the field with our guys and he will practice today so we'll see what that all means."
Nevertheless, Thomas said in an instagram post that the "disrespect ... will not be forgotten."
As a matter of procedure, the Seahawks will get a two-week roster exemption for Thomas as he gets back into football with the team. He could play as soon as this weekend if the team adds him to the roster in time. He won't count against the 53-man roster during the duration of the exemption. However, Carroll said they don't know if Thomas will start or play this week.
Thomas is scheduled to make $8.5 million in the final year of his deal with the Seahawks. According to OverTheCap.com, Eric Berry ($13 million), Kam Chancellor ($12 million), Reshad Jones ($12 million) Lamarcus Joyner ($11.3 million) and Harrison Smith ($10.25 million) have contracts worth more on an average year-to-year basis than Thomas' deal ($10 million). And Joyner - playing on the franchise tag - is the only other player set to be a free agent at the end of the year like Thomas.
Nevertheless, the Seahawks have not seemed inclined to give Thomas a new contract to this point. At least not while he has been away from the team. Meanwhile, contract extensions have been reached with tackle Duane Brown and wide receiver Tyler Lockett in recent weeks while Thomas continued to hope he'd get a new contract from the team.
Carroll said he didn't anticipate any issues with Thomas coming back into the team despite his post about the "disrespect" he felt from the process.
"I've already addressed the team and talked with Earl and we're ready to go," Carroll said. "I don't anticipate any issues at all.
"He's one of the best players that plays the game. He's been a marvelous part of our program for a long time. That's why we never waived in the thought that he wasn't going to be with us and it was just a matter of time to try to make sense or do what we could do and fortunately we're back at it and we'd like him to be a Seahawk for the rest of his career. That's how we've always thought about it, so the rest of it will take care of it when the time is right."
Carroll would only say "we'll see as we move forward" when asked if there will be any attempt to secure Thomas' future with the team.
"He's a Seahawk," Carroll said when asked if a trade of Thomas was still a possibility.
Meanwhile, teammates Bobby Wagner and Doug Baldwin were happy to have Thomas back.
"Oh man, ecstatic," Baldwin said. "When I saw him sitting down in the meeting room, I couldn't help (but) just him a big hug. That's my boy. I love him to death."
Added Wagner: "He's been in the program for quite a long time. We've been playing together for quite a long time. It's kind of like if a guy was injured, missed a couple weeks and came back. Then we just embrace him and he steps into his spot. He's a once-in-a-generation player. I assume from all the videos he posted that he's been working out and we'll be fine."
Chancellor missed the first two games of the 2015 season as his hold out continued into the regular season. He showed after the first two weeks without a new contract. He didn't get an extension until just before the 2017 season, which likely will be his last due to neck injuries sustained last November.
Thomas also returns to the team without a new deal. Whether his presence in the building suddenly leads to a new contact being cultivated remains to be seen. And it's uncertain as to exactly when Thomas will be back on the field in a game. But the hold out is over and Thomas is back with the Seahawks.
-- Defensive end Branden Jackson was re-signed to the team's practice squad on Wednesday. Linebacker Antwione Williams was released to clear room on the squad. Jackson appeared in 12 games for Seattle last season and made the team's initial 53-man roster before being waived on Sunday.
-- Right guard D.J. Fluker did not practice due to a hamstring issue. If he is unable to play on Sunday, it likely puts J.R. Sweezy in the starting lineup. Sweezy did not play in a preseason game due to an ankle sprain sustained right after he re-signed with the team.
-- Rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin will start at weak-side linebacker with K.J. Wright out due to a knee injury that required surgery last week.
Photo Credit: GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23: Free safety Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)