Pete Carroll says Earl Thomas first in line to replace Golden Tate as punt returner

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Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas earned a four-year, $40 million extension this offseason. With the raise may come an added job requirement as well.

Head coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday that Thomas would be the team’s punt returner if they had to play a game this week. The team is searching for a replacement for Golden Tate, who signed with the Detroit Lions this offseason. Tate had 51 returns for 585 yards for Seattle last season.

“If we had to start today Earl Thomas would be the first guy back there, and he’s really excited about that,” Carroll said. “He’s a guy that has the most (punt) catches for us.”

Thomas said he’s been lobbying Carroll for a long time about the opportunity to return punts.

“I’ve been waiting on this opportunity,” Thomas said. “This is what I do – I’m an athlete. I’ve been trying to tell Coach Carroll to put me back there for the longest (time). I always try to go back there during walk-throughs, just to try to sneak a punt return, show them who I am and I want to score a touchdown.”

“This is perfect opportunity for me to score a touchdown. I’m an offensive guy at heart. That’s why I don’t try to go out-of-bounds when I catch interceptions.”

Thomas returned punts sparingly during his college career at Texas, but did have a 50-yard return against Kansas. He also had two kickoff return touchdowns and two punt return touchdowns during his high school career. However, he hasn’t done it yet at the NFL level.

Carroll said Richard Sherman would be next up with receivers Bryan Walters and Percy Harvin also in consideration. Though Harvin has been a prominent kickoff returner, he hasn’t returned punts. Rookie Paul Richardson may also get a chance.

It could be a bit surprising to see Thomas, an All-Pro safety, possibly putting himself in harm’s way as a punt returner. But Thomas isn’t worried about that.

“This is my future. I can help this team and I know I can,” Thomas said. “…I want to show everybody who I am and I want to be able to impact the game as much as possible. This is a great opportunity. I just need to capitalize on it.”

21 responses to “Pete Carroll says Earl Thomas first in line to replace Golden Tate as punt returner

  1. is the 10 yards really worth it Pete? He’s the #1 MVP (no matter what Sher says) on the team.

    Hate to see him blow out a knee or worse for 10 yards.


  2. Why not? If ET has a desire to do it, give him a crack at it, guys a beast of a competitor and has the it factor as a football player.

  3. Hawks most important defensive player. He shouldn’t return punts. Anybody remember Kenny Easly and how his career ended?

  4. You may be lobbying Earl but you’re not going to be back there. Hawks can find another excellent punt returner, they can’t just find another best FS in the league.

  5. You can’t be serious KR is it’s own position nowadays so stop being cheap and get a real returner that doesn’t put a huge piece of your defense in harms way, if he goes down on a KR you’re gonna look like a idiot with Percy(who will be better than earl anyway) and Baldwin the cheap and safe option for returner.

  6. Seahawks have made a lot of good decisions in the last couple years but I cannot see putting the best safety in football to return kicks. Why risk it? To lose him would be devastating to their secondary.

  7. Dumb move!!!!! ET3 s way too valuable to expose him to injury like this. Put Richardson or Walters back there

  8. “It could be a bit surprising to see Thomas, an All-Pro safety, possibly putting himself in harm’s way as a punt returner.”

    “Surprising?” This is football! He’s a football player! You are always “in harms way!” If you want safety, retire. Other All-Pro players have returned kicks & punts….ever heard of Deion Sanders?

  9. .

    I think Pete Carroll has lost his mind. If the consensus best safety in football ended up on IR while returning a punt, the Seahawks fans would be apoplectic.


  10. Not a Seahawks fan but I would not be a huge fan of Earl Thomas back there. He is crucial to that defense and the returner often takes nasty hits. I would not chance loosing a valuable piece like him. The same would apply to Sherman (who I can’t stand personally). Harvin was a great return man but between his migraines, concussions, and recent hip issues there is no chance that I would ever put him back there to take extra hits. They should find a 4th string wide receiver / running back whose contributions will be as a returner and as a gunner on special teams. Don’t risk injuries to your skill players!!

  11. All concerns about injury aside, raise your hand if you want to be the one tackling him.

  12. I DO NOT GET IT!!!!!! Does the name Tyrann Mathieu ring a bell? I honestly thought Pete Carroll had more brains than this. Having a starting defensive back returning kicks? I will never understand why teams risk their players like that.

  13. Please please put Thomas or Sherman out there. Talk about putting a target on your back.

    See Seahawks fans you haven’t been there before and you don’t know what it is like to have everyone trying to beat the champs…

    Stupid Move. period

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