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Seattle Seahawks lock up safety Earl Thomas to big extension

The importance of the versatile safety in today's NFL is becoming paramount and it's arguable there's no better safety in the league than Earl Thomas.

The Seahawks know what they have in Thomas, a free safety whose recognition in coverage is fantastic. And he's willing to deliver a big hit. There are many reasons Seattle's defense is great, and a big one is that no matter what coordinator Dan Quinn needs Thomas to do to combat an opponent's strength, he knows Thomas can handle it.

One of the Seahawks' biggest priorities was locking up Thomas for the near future, and they didn't wait any longer to cross that off the list. Thomas signed a four-year contract extension that "easily" makes him the highest-paid safety in football, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported. Rapoport said the four-year extension is worth $40 million with $27.725 million guaranteed, which is a huge number for any safety. But if any safety deserves that kind of money it's Thomas, because he's the best in the game.

Thomas has been in the NFL four years, and has three Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro nods and a Super Bowl title. He doesn't turn 25 until next month. The money given to Thomas by the Seahawks will be well spent.

The Seahawks have also reportedly been in talks with cornerback Richard Sherman about making him one of the highest paid cornerbacks in the NFL. It'll be hard to keep all of the nucleus of their championship team together (quarterback Russell Wilson's contract will need to be extended soon, as well), but the Seahawks were going to make sure Thomas never came close to testing free agency. It was a smart move.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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