The “Legion of Boom” was minus its biggest boomer to begin the 2015 preseason.
Kam Chancellor wants more money.
That is why Seattle’s hard-hitting strong safety and perhaps most respected and popular teammate among the defending two-time NFC champions skipped the first practice of training camp on Friday at team headquarters in Renton.
The Seahawks could fine Chancellor up to $30,000 for each practice day he misses in camp. But coach Pete Carroll didn’t sound at all punitive -- and in fact was glowing -- when asked about the absence of one of his core leaders.
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“We’ve been messaging back and forth,” Carroll said after his sixth training camp as Seattle’s coach began. “Kam is an amazing Seahawk. He’s been a great part of this team. We love him in every way. He stands for exactly what we love about this game and being a Seahawk and playing for us. Our hearts are with him. We want to make something happen. We want him back. We’re trying to figure it out. I see Kam as a champion warrior football player, part of this team, and one of the ultimate leaders of this team. Of course, we need to get him back.
“He has his points. He got his thoughts. He’s a very smart guy. He’s thought this out. He’s made a clear choice. We’ll see how it goes. I miss him.
When asked how disruptive it is to have Steven Terrell in at strong safety instead of the invaluable Chancellor to begin camp, Carroll said: “I don’t see it as disruptive. There’s so much going on. Everyone is pushing to make the most of this. I don’t see it as disruptive at this point. But we miss him. It’s too early in the process to know the impact.”
When I asked if this might be a long-term absence, Carroll replied: “I don’t know.”
Chancellor has three seasons and $16.45 million in base salaries remaining on the four-year extension he signed in April 2013. All of his $4.45 million salary for this coming season is guaranteed.
His base pays of $5.1 million for 2016 and $6.8 million for ‘17 are not guaranteed. That is likely what he wants the Seahawks to address while he holds out.
He turned 27 in April, which of course isn’t ancient. But with his hard-hitting style and the myriad injuries he’s been having -- a hip surgery before last season, bone spurs in his feet for which he contemplated surgery last September, balky ankles and knees, then a medial-collateral ligament injury two days before February’s Super Bowl for which he avoided surgery -- Chancellor frankly may not expect to play too many more seasons. Thus he is likely seeking Marshawn Lynch-like, additional guaranteed money while he can.
No Seahawk is more highly regarded by teammates than Chancellor. Russell Wilson said after he signed his four-year, $87.6 million contract extension (with one season remaining on his rookie deal) Friday that he’s been talking to Chancellor and expressing his support. So has teammate Michael Bennett, the defensive end who complained all offseason the four-year deal for $28.5 million with $16 million guaranteed he signed before last season wasn’t enough money yet showed up to camp on time.
“Obviously, Kam has out-played his contract,” Bennett said Friday, while adding he’s just going to play this season out and hope the team gives him some money in early 2016.
The Seahawks’ 2014 season took off from a 6-4, middling concern into a 12-4 finish, another NFC West title and the conference’s top playoff seed for the second consecutive year only after Chancellor uncharacteristically stood in front of the team just before kickoff of a key November home game against Arizona. He gave what teammate K.J. Wright called probably the best, most-fiery and impassioned pregame speech he’s ever heard. Seattle pounded the division-leading Cardinals that day, then won seven more in a row to reach another Super Bowl.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider has for years made it a policy not to renegotiate deals that have multiple years left on them. He made something of an exception before last season with Lynch, though. The GM moved money from later years of Lynch’s old deal to a new, up-front guarantee of $1.5 million for 2014 -- and waived a week’s worth of camp-holdout fines -- to get Lynch into training camp late early last August.
That crack in the GM’s door is what Chancellor may be seeking to push through here.
Chancellor’s holdout, the gymnastics the Seahawks had to do to get Wilson’s deal done, the fact they are also trying to extend the contract of All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner for perhaps $10 million per season -- and Wagner so-true tweet Friday morning moments after Wilson signed that Seattle “Can’t keep everyone” shows why no team since the NFL instituted a salary cap in 1994 has played in three consecutive Super Bowls. That’s what these Seahawks are trying to do -- while also trying to keep core players happy for years and years and still fit under the salary cap.
After Wilson’s deal the Seahawks have just over $4 million remaining under the 2015 salary cap. That wouldn’t appear to leave more than a couple nickels left for anyone else right now beyond Wagner. Either that or a veteran with a sizeable cap number for this year (30-year-old Brandon Mebane, $5.7 million this year coming off a torn hamstring) may have to go to keep the others happy.
Kam Chancellor wants more
What the Seahawks’ strong safety has remaining on