It sure sounds as if the Seahawks are going to give Kam Chancellor a contract extension.
Jimmy Graham’s contract status is definitely on the team’s radar, and its coach is “excited for him to come back.”
Outbursts this season by Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and others took “us to a place we don’t want to be” — and were a product of the environment the head coach had created.
And — you’ve been asking for it — improving the offensive line will be a strong consideration in the upcoming draft and free agency.
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But not a guarantee.
Those were the high points of coach Pete Carroll’s expansive 50 minutes of answers in the Seahawks’ final press conference of the 2016 season Monday at team headquarters.
Chancellor turns 29 years old in April. The four-time Pro Bowl safety holds the franchise record after playing in his 14th postseason game on Saturday, the season-ending 36-20 loss at Atlanta. He missed multiple games due to injuries in each of the past three seasons.
He has one year left on his contract that is currently scheduled to have a charge against Seattle’s 2017 salary cap of $8,125,008. That’s pricey for a player whose thumping style has made him prone to injury.
“We’re on it,” Carroll said. “We love Kam, and he’s a significant part of everything that goes on around here. I was so proud of him when we were done the other night for all the leadership that he had brought us in such a magnificent way. Coming out of (his holdout) last year and to turn things around and really be all in and just be the epitome of what leadership is all about.
“We know what is going on. And we’re involved with all that stuff.”
Last month, Chancellor saw teammate Michael Bennett, who is 2 1/2 years older, get what Chancellor’s wanted since the summer of 2015: a contract extension, in Bennett’s case a three-year deal worth up to $31.5 million with $17.5 million guaranteed.
That may or may not be the money the Seahawks will want to pay Chancellor. The team could approach him with a new deal that is more cap friendly this year.
Asked Saturday night on his way out of the Georgia Dome if he believed he’d be back with the Seahawks, Chancellor said with a grin: “Day to day.”
Graham is entering the final season of a deal that is scheduled to count $10 million against Seattle’s salary cap. None of that money is guaranteed, and the Seahawks could release Graham by this spring with no charge against its 2017 cap.
More likely, the team will ask Graham to re-negotiate a new contract with a lower cap charge in 2017.
“We know how that’s going and those conversations come up when we can get to them,” Carroll said, including general manager John Schneider.
“I’m glad you reminded us,” Carroll added with a grin, “but John is on that.”
Graham has 48 and 65 catches with two and six touchdowns in the two regular seasons since the Seahawks traded two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger and a first-round draft choice to New Orleans for what had been the league’s most prolific pass-catching tight end the previous four seasons with the Saints. Graham averaged 89 catches and 12 touchdowns from 2011-14 with New Orleans.
“I thought Jimmy had a terrific year,” Carroll said of Graham’s return from a torn patellar tendon in November 2015. “He was explosive. He was dynamic. He blocked like he’s never blocked before. He became a factor on the perimeter blocking stuff. And he’s a highlight film, he’s got so many big plays he made during the year.
“… I’m excited for him to come back. Imagine how much better he’ll feel. Look what he had to undergo last offseason to get back and be in the phenomenal shape that he was. This will allow him to come back again. He should be stronger this year and more fit this year.”
Carroll said Monday was the first time he was told of Bennett berating a Seattle television reporter in the locker room in Atlanta following Saturday’s loss to the Falcons in the NFC divisional playoffs.
“I think that’s just another example of not being poised at the time,” Carroll said. “I know Michael is a very remorseful guy when he makes his mistakes. I haven’t talked to him about it at all. I didn’t know anything about it until today. I don’t even know what took place. I haven’t even read the article.”
Asked if he was surprised about that, or Richard Sherman threatening to ruin the career of a Seattle radio host during a press conference last month, Carroll said: “Not necessarily surprised. But I’m disappointed we weren’t able to control it, that guys weren’t able to keep it inside. These guys have been very emotional players, and it’s part of the thing that we like about them. But there’s a point where you can go too far.
“Our guys are working at figuring that out.”
The coach said he takes responsibility.
“I do, because it’s important for me to tap into these guys, their emotional side. And it becomes part of their play that when it fits the person and that’s how they operate,” Carroll said. “But sometimes, like I said, we make mistakes. I needed to do a better job of helping them head that off.”
As for your favorite topic, the offensive line…
The inexperience of having first-time starters in three of the five positions — which played a part in getting quarterback Russell Wilson hurt with a high-ankle sprain and sprained knee in the season’s first month — are why the offense was as inconsistent as it was.
Indeed, inconsistency is the one word that describes the Seahawks entire, unfulfilled season.
“We’re going to work really hard this offseason to make sure that we make that spot really competitive again,” Carroll said of the O-line. “We’re not going to rest on anything or sit back (where) we think, ‘We’ve got it now.’ We’ll continue to work.
“There’s opportunities, of course, in the draft and free agency and all of that, that we’re open to.”
Carroll then added: “But if nothing happened, these guys are coming back, and they’re going to get after it. They’re going to be farther along than they were. It couldn’t be more obvious. That’s just a natural thing that’s going to happen. We need that natural occurrence to take place and help us be better from the start” of in 2017.
SHEAD’S “SIGNIFICANT” KNEE INJURY
Starting cornerback DeShawn Shead has a torn anterior cruciate ligament and other injuries in his knee Saturday, and faces a long road to being back.
“It’s going to be all the way until next season before he really gets to start seeing how far along he is and if he can come back,” Carroll said.
“So we have to think like we have to pull from the ranks of the guys and see how they do. … Obviously, there will be a chance to address that in the draft, too.”
Shead’s contract expired Saturday and he could become a restricted free agent; if he would sign elsewhere, the Seahawks would be entitled to draft-pick compensation.
Carroll reiterated the team’s belief three-time All-Pro safety Earl Thomas (broken tibia) and Pro Bowl kick returner and wide receiver Tyler Lockett (broken tibia and fibula) should be back in time to begin the 2017 season on the field. … Carroll said the team is expecting to keep Germain Ifedi at right guard, where the first-round pick spent his rookie season starting. Ifedi was a right tackle at Texas A&M. … The Sacramento Bee reported the San Francisco 49ers’ search for a new head coach is down to Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable, the former Raiders head man. “I think he has a real chance,” Carroll said of Cable. “So I am rooting for him, of course. And then we’ll root against him as soon as he gets it, if he gets it.”