That's the issue facing the Seahawks now that they have paid their All-Pro safety and reportedly are resuming contract talks with their All-Pro cornerback.
Thomas reportedly received the biggest deal for a safety, at $10 million per year and $27.7 million guaranteed. As it was reported, his five-year, $44.7 million deal breaks down to just under $9 million a year and about $5.5 million per year in guarantees.
So how much more than that will the Hawks pay Sherman, whose deal will be compared to top corners?
The top corner deals this offseason were signed by Darrelle Revis and Aqib Talib. Revis received what is basically a one-year deal worth $12 million from the New England Patriots, who have the option to keep him for 2015 for $20 million (but probably will redo that or let him go). Revis received $16 million from Tampa Bay in 2013, so his 2013-14 total is $28 million.
Talib got a more conventional contract from Denver -- $57 million over six years -- but due to his injury history just $11.5 million is guaranteed right now (per OverTheCap.com). The $15 million for 2015 and 2016 is guaranteed for injury only until those league years begin, when his salaries become fully guaranteed.
Perhaps the purest high-money cornerback contract right now is the one Brandon Carr signed with Dallas in 2012. That was worth $10 million a year, with $25.5 million guaranteed.
Sherman will blow that one away. His agents probably are taking aim at Revis' deals, wanting at least $14 million a year and as much as $45 million guaranteed in the first three years of a six-year deal. That guaranteed money would come close to Revis' projected three-year payout and to the 62 percent in guaranteed money (first three years) that Thomas received.
It's hard to see the Hawks paying that much, though. ESPN's John Clayton thinks they might end up somewhere between $35 million and $39 million guaranteed on a six-year deal worth a little more than $13 million per year.
That would be as much as 50 percent guaranteed, which would about match Carr's percentage. And the $6 million to $6.5 million per year in guarantees would trump all defensive backs (Revis is technically at $5.75 million and Carr is at $5.1 million).
Do the Hawks really need to pay Sherman?
Some think Sherman is a product of Pete Carroll's defense and Thomas' ability to cover the back end of the defense -- and thus Sherman is not worth what it appears he is about to be paid.
It sounds like Thomas kind of agrees.
"People always say: 'How come Seattle can have fifth-round or sixth-round corners and they can have so much success?' Well, 2-9 is right here. I’m pushing that thing, you know? I’m dead serious. I say that as humbly as possible.”
He drew a big laugh with that humility addendum, but it also is hard to argue with the fact that he has helped Carroll's Secondary School become so productive.
Of course, the one guy who could argue he doesn't need Thomas is Sherman, who had a league-high eight interceptions last season despite being the least-targeted corner in the league.
MORE HAWK TALK
**Great story by Thomas about getting pulled over by police on the way to VMAC to sign his deal. He and his family were running behind and he said he was going 30 in a 25 mph zone. “I didn’t try to bulldog (the cop) and say, ‘My name is Earl Thomas,’ ” Thomas said. “He’d be like, ‘This dude is cocky’ and give me a ticket. But, he let me off. That’s the moral of the story.”
**As the Seahawks finish off the Thomas and Sherman deals, they will be free to look into extending guys such as LB K.J. Wright, DE Cliff Avril and WR Doug Baldwin. Avril, entering the second year of his two-year deal, told 710 ESPN: "I would love to be with the Seahawks. I would love to hopefully sign some kind of extension. I know they have some of the big dogs to get out of the way first. We'll see how it plays out."
**Despite the heavy negotiations for Thomas and Sherman, the Hawks have not been idle in seeking to improve in other ways. Kevin Williams, a 33-year-old former Pro Bowl DT for Minnesota, reportedly visited the team.