The Seahawks are extending their key pieces and they've signed safety Earl Thomas to a long term contract, described by NFL's Ian Rapoport as a "blockbuster." Edit: Per Rapoport, the deal is a 4 year extension for $40 million, with $27.725 million guaranteed. This adds to the final season of his contract, for a baseline of 5 years, $44.625 million, or an average of $8.925 million per season.
Thomas is regarded as the best safety in the league by the majority of people who watch football and his new deal will make him the highest paid player at his position.
Patriots fans need to take note because safety Devin McCourty is due for a contract extension and you'd be fooling yourself if you don't think he and his agent are watching the market. Here are some points:
1) Devin McCourty is an excellent safety for what the Patriots do and what Bill Belichick schemes. He's a tremendous backstop who doesn't make mistakes, can go sideline to sideline, and can defend a pass or two per game. He'll put in consistently positive games week after week, and that's a degree of stability at the position that the defense hasn't had in over half a decade.
Earl Thomas is on a whole 'nother level. While McCourty plays within the system and, at points, can be a game chager, Thomas is the system. The Seahawks defense doesn't work without him on the field. He's their centerfielder that allows every other defensive back to sit into their role. He's the Darrelle Revis of safeties- and that's not hyperbole.
So while McCourty's camp will be watching Thomas's deal, think of it as a ceiling. McCourty won't be exceeding it.
2) McCourty wants to stay in New England. I don't have anything to back this up other than he's the kind of player who wants to have a career in one location. He fought to bring back Vince Wilfork and he's a leader on the team. He's not going to chase the money- but he's going to be fairly compensated. So don't expect him to hold out if he doesn't receive a Thomas-like contract offer (and he shouldn't).
3) The cap is going to keep rising. Teams are constrained by the salary cap when it comes to retaining players and the Seahawks are doing their best to sign their youth while the cap is growing. The signing of Thomas preludes the extensions of Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman- both of which will take advantage of the rising caps.
When the Patriots extend McCourty, it will take the new cap math into account. He'll be paid like the top 5 safety that he is. He won't receive Thomas money because he doesn't fill a Thomas role on the defense.
He'll be paid. Let's just see how much.