by Max Mulitz
Over the past couple seasons, numerous articles have been written explaining why Earl Thomas is the most important player in the Seahawks defense. Basically, the entire scheme of the Seahawks defense relies on Earl Thomas being able to cover the deep middle third of the defense on the majority of the snaps.
Passes to the deep middle of the field are the most dangerous and efficient passes in the game, so Thomas is charged with defending the most important area of the field on a down to down basis. As Numberfire points out, the Seahawks deep passing defense went from allowing only about one expected point per game with Thomas to about three per game without him, for a net increase of two points per game allowed. Football Outsiders data also evidences that the Seahawks defense of the deep middle of the field has gone from elite to very poor with the loss of Thomas.
Thomas’ salary of $10 Million per year (6% of the Cap) values him at about .9 win a year, though Numberfire’s valuation of him would put his value in the 12-14 million/year range, which seems reasonable.