Kam Chancellor has been holding out, skipping Seattle Seahawks camp for about three weeks running. His agent just clarified that there’s no way he’s coming to camp unless the ‘Hawks are willing to give him a new contract.
Chancellor, perhaps the most important piece of the Hawks’ secondary for the physicality he brings, got an extension back in 2013. It was for $28 million over four years, and he’s only played a single year of that extension—the 2014 season. The 2013 season appears to have been part of the old deal, though the contract was signed prior to that year.
It puts the Hawks in an interesting position because the standing policy for the club is that negotiations can’t happen until players get down toward the final year of their contracts. This isn’t something they want to deal with every year. They thought they had him locked up long-term, and now he’s coming back to the table.
Part of their fear is likely showing other players that they can force the team to negotiate. If they let Chancellor do it, will players like Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, who just got extensions, show back up next offseason to ask for even more money?
At the same time, as noted above, Chancellor is a key piece of the puzzle in the secondary. He’s a heavy hitter who can dictate a game and make wideouts scared to go across the middle. While players like Richard Sherman are very good at what they do, they’re not the reason teams look soft and scared when they roll into Seattle.
The reason is Chancellor.
Exactly how long he’ll keep this up remains to be seen. He’s already hit the point where he can be fined and part of his signing bonus can be returned to the team. He seems alright with that—or he thinks the club won’t actually do it.
To some degree, the Seahawks dug this hole for themselves last year, when Marshawn Lynch held out and they didn’t fine him. Now the players know that the team doesn’t stick to its policies, so they’re more likely to incur fines and ignore regulations.
That could actually be Kam’s mindset on the whole thing. The team doesn’t want to negotiate yet and John Schneider, the GM, even said they had to stick to their principles and their plan—implying that negotiations wouldn’t happen until that one-year mark.
It’s a gamble, certainly, but one that could pay off in a big way.
In the past, the Seahawks have not been too concerned about parting with pieces of their secondary. They let Brandon Browner go after winning their first Super Bowl, and he joined the New England Patriots and beat the Seahawks in the 2014 Super Bowl. They let Byron Maxwell go this offseason, and he’s now an Eagle.
It’s fairly clear that the Seahawks believe Sherman and Earl Thomas are their best defenders, and they can plug guys in around them. It’s worked so far, but would it work with Kam? If his holdout gets all the way into the regular season, we may get to find out.
One thing is for certain: The identity for the defense would not be the same without Chancellor. He’s the most physical safety in the NFL and he loves contact. However, from a pure skill perspective, Sherman and Thomas are better. Though it would be quite a shift to see Chancellor on the sidelines, refusing to play, the Seahawks would still have one of the best secondaries in the NFL.
It’s a staring contest now, a game of chicken, and neither side wants to crack first.