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Packers should explore trading for disgruntled Seahawks safety Earl Thomas

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With Mike Pettine’s safeties struggling and the Seahawks looking at a rebuild, there could be an opportunity for Green Bay to add an All-Pro player at a position of need.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos
Earl Thomas would be the cure for what ails the Packers safety room.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The team formerly led by the Legion of Boom sits at 0-2, with losses to teams quarterbacked by Case Keenum and Mitch Trubisky to open the season. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been running for his life. His best receiver is hurt. His best teammate is hurt. And his best offensive lineman is one of the mannequins at the Nike store.

With that in mind, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst ought to reach out to his former colleague John Schneider about facilitating their rebuild in exchange for safety Earl Thomas. Just over 10% of teams starting 0-2 make the playoffs and there’s little reason to expect Seattle to buck that trend (though they did in 2015 with a much different team). The best team in the division is clearly not coached by Pete Carroll and after losing so many defensive stars, it’s looking like the Seahawks need the chance to reload, if not rebuild.

Earl Thomas clearly wanted a new contract before the season, with trade rumors surrounding the six-time Pro Bowl safety during a contentious holdout. Schneider reportedly wanted more than the Dallas Cowboys were willing to offer and a deal couldn’t be reached, but he hasn’t reached a contract agreement with his former first-round pick either.

Thomas, who turns 30 this offseason, will likely be looking for a top-of-the-market safety deal should he become a free agent this spring. A leg injury in 2016 is just about the only thing that has kept him from being an every down terror in the back of the Seahawks defense over the last seven seasons. When he’s healthy, he’s the best eraser in the league.

Mike Pettine knows that, having watched him as a consultant in Seattle last season. It likely would take less time to acculturate Thomas into this defense given that familiarity. Former Seahawks defensive backs coach Kris Richards now coaches in Dallas, one of the reasons the Cowboys were such a heavy favorite to land Thomas before the season started.

It’s understandable Seattle wouldn’t want to deal him before the year, even if the team doesn’t plan to re-sign him. With Russell Wilson, good health, and some luck, the Seahawks could have been a playoff team. They’re already short the last two, and after two weeks they sit in a historically untenable position. They should find a trade partner and play the long game with roster building.

And Gutekunst should offer to help.

If we assume the Packers would be given the chance to negotiate a new contract with Thomas as a contingency of the trade, Green Bay should be willing to go up to a first-round pick to get Thomas. This isn’t the Khalil Mack situation, where they would have to give up both firsts and shell out a quarterback-sized contract.

A first, and a front-loaded deal in the low teens for four years (including 2018) wouldn’t be nearly as big a burden on the Packers’ future flexibility, but would give them a field-tilting defender in the back end. For an All-Pro, Seattle gets a premium pick plus financial relief of its own.

On Twitter, I suggested Jason Spriggs and a third if the Seahawks really wanted to get better this season as well. Spriggs is hardly a proven asset, but he might already be better than the guys they’re trotting out there on an offensive line that is leaky, to say the least. The Packers brought in Byron Bell to be a backup swing offensive lineman, keeping some level of depth intact.

After two straight disappointing weeks following an underwhelming season from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Packers can no longer be content to play the young guns, as Gutekunst suggested before the season. Clinton-Dix busted his coverage on the touchdown to Laquon Treadwell last week, playing too deep and reacting to the outside on a play where he has inside responsibilities. He’s an inconsistent tackler and frankly just not an impact player.

Kentrell Brice, after a solid Week 1, played too passively in Week 2, failing to get to plays on the boundary and recognizing routes too slowly. He let up on the touchdown to Adam Thielen that tied the game and failed to see Stefon Diggs running free past Davon House on a play where he has to give help.

Those are plays Earl Thomas makes.

The return of Josh Jones won’t cure those ills. He’s the kind of player the team wants in the box coming downhill. Coincidentally, he’s precisely the kind of safety to pair with a player like Thomas. And while the cheaper option would be to sign a reliable safety like Eric Reid, it seems as though (to borrow a phrase from Austin Powers) that train has sailed.

So long as Reid remains unsigned, the Packers aren’t truly doing everything in their power to put together the best 53-man roster because based on what we’ve seen, Reid would be the best safety on this team right now. It’s no secret why he’s not an option and regardless of how you feel about that, it’s the unfortunate reality of the situation.

Green Bay can’t continue to delude itself when it comes to these safeties. They aren’t good enough. Especially when these young cornerbacks look like the real deal, it’s not fair to their development or to this team to pair them with sub-par safeties when better ones are out there to be had.

Gutekunst said he wants to be in on every player available. He showed that was true this offseason and nearly reeled in the biggest fish since Reggie White. It’s time to put the line back in the water and snag a prize-winning Seahawk.

Go get Earl Thomas.