It appears that Jairus Byrd won't be the highest-paid safety in the NFL for very long. The Seattle Seahawks have agreed to a long-term contract extension with All-Pro Earl Thomas that will make him the position's best-paid player, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.
Rapoport reports that the extension is worth $40 million over four years with $27.725 million in guaranteed money.
Byrd signed a monster six-year, $54 million free agent contract with the New Orleans Saints in March, $26.3 million of which is guaranteed. His $9 million per year was briefly the most lucrative deal among the league's safeties, but it comes in at a cool $1 million under Thomas's new average salary.
Thomas earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in each of the last three years and was a key cog in Seattle's Legion of Boom secondary that paved the way to a Super Bowl victory last season. With Thomas entering the final year of a five-year, $18.3 million deal he signed in 2010, the Seahawks made locking him down a priority this offseason.
Thomas wasn't the only star in Seattle due a contract extension. With Thomas taken care of, the question for Seahawks fans becomes how the blockbuster deal will affect potential deals with Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson. Sherman is entering the final year of his contract while Wilson can begin renegotiating his rookie deal next offseason.
Sherman is arguably the league's top corner, but his $1.43 million 2014 salary ranks 40th among his peers. Wilson is the worst-paid quarterback on the team behind Tarvaris Jackson and the recently acquired Terrelle Pryor.
Thomas's big payday has scarfed down a good bit of the available funds. Prior to his signing, Seattle was $15 million under the 2014 salary cap, according to Spotrac.com. Since the structure details of Thomas's contract haven't been released yet, there's no telling exactly how much of that space is left; it will certainly have a sizable bite taken out of it, though. That means the team will need to get creative in its structuring if it intends to extend Sherman and, down the road, Wilson.
ESPN's Ed Werder reported last week that Sherman and the Seahawks are still far apart in their negotiations. The All-Pro cornerback told NFL Network that he's looking for lots of dollar signs.
"Whatever they feel I am due. I will take it as respect," Sherman said. "It's all about respect in this game, and the only way people show respect is the dollars. We'll see what happens."