The tough tone on Kam Chancellor’s holdout from coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider doesn’t mean he’s estranged from the Seahawks.
Though he’s choosing to stay away, the popular leader of the defense and team is apparently still involved in the daily workings surrounding practices during Seattle’s training camp.
So says his fill-in starter at strong safety. DeShawn Shead says Chancellor has been reviewing films of the team’s practices and giving tips to him on how to play the position in the center of the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
“Oh, yeah, I get texts. He still watches all the film. He’s still tuned in to everything,” Shead said following Friday’s seventh camp practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “He will tell me ‘Shead, watch out for this. When you see this play you can play it faster.’ If I made a mistake on something he will tell me, let me know.
“So he is still very active.”
Chancellor’s holdout is now eight days old. It could be costing him fines up to $530,000, if the Seahawks choose to dock him for blowing off camp.
Carroll’s tone changed from saying last weekend Chancellor was an “awesome Seahawk” whom the team was working to get into camp to one with more urgency and frustration on Wednesday. The coach uncharacteristically said the holdout had become “an issue of concern, particularly for Kam” and that the Seahawks have to move along with or without him.
That same day Schneider reiterated on national radio the team has a policy of not redoing contracts that have more than one year remaining.
Chancellor’s has three years left, including this coming one for $4.55 million in base salary with $4.45 million guaranteed.
A Facebook post from ESPN reporter Josina Anderson Thursday stated: “I’m told what would help assuage Seattle Seahawks S Kam Chancellor’s holdout is better cash flow over the first two years of the remaining three on his current deal. One way a cap-tight team that’s relatively cash-rich can hypothetically achieve this would be by converting the majority of the $9.65M Chancellor is due in base salary over the next 2 years to signing bonus. Ideally this could be paid out five days after the contract is executed, or perhaps by remitting $3.5M early and another $3.5M by Oct. 1st. Clearly the benefit to a signing bonus conversion is that it allows Chancellor to receive cash earlier, as opposed to waiting for it to be divided over 17 weeks each of the 1st 2 seasons of his current deal, again as base salary...
“…a source told me Chancellor is prepared to take his holdout potentially into the regular season if both sides can’t find middle ground.”
Just as in the Russell Wilson contract situation settled last weekend with Seattle’s $87.6 million contract including $61.5 million guaranteed, Chancellor’s holdout is all about getting guaranteed cash in his pocket now. It almost always is in the NFL, where today is cherished and tomorrow is anything but guaranteed.
Chancellor is likely wanting the Seahawks to move money he is scheduled to earn in one or two of the final two years on his contract that remain after this season into up-front guarantees. It’s what Schneider did to get running back Marshawn Lynch into training camp after an eight-day holdout last year.
You can bet Chancellor noticed how Lynch got $1.5 million more guaranteed before last season.
But Schneider and the Seahawks had every reason to wonder last year at this time if Lynch might just walk away from the game for good. They still do. Lynch might do that after this season; few around Seattle expect him to fulfill the two seasons that remain after 2015 on the contract extension he signed this spring.
The 27-year-old Chancellor, on the other hand, is doing the understandable: He’s trying to get all he can now, because the money could stop tomorrow. With the reckless, painful way he plays and all the injuries he’s had — he smiled and sighed this spring talking about how this was the first NFL offseason he didn’t have a surgery — there is a real chance his body may not allow him to play much more beyond the 2015 or 2016 seasons. There’s no salary in a forced retirement.
As teammate K.J. Wright, who signed a $27 million, four-year contract extension in December, said while discussing Chancellor’s holdout last week: “We are trying to make this last for our grandkids. So this is the only opportunity that most of us have, that we can get, you know, to set up our family for generations to come.
“Most of us are not going to get out there in life and be owners of the Seahawks, you know what I’m sayin’? You’ve got to get what you can, when you can.”
The Seahawks’ (at least public) stance is that this is how they have to do business to remain a championship-caliber team. If the team finds money for every player who comes knocking any time in his deal, what’s going to stop Sherman from banging on the GM’s door this time next year, with three seasons of his own still left on the $56 million extension he got a year after Chancellor’s? Or Thomas? Or, heck, Wilson from doing that after Andrew Luck signs an extension with the Colts next year that far eclipses the $21.9 million per year for which Wilson re-signed just last weekend.
The proposal written by Anderson, if accurate, goes beyond turning a $100,000 bonus Chancellor could earn this season into an up-front guarantee. It would likely require the Seahawks to cut one or more veterans to clear enough salary cap space to fit Chancellor’s new guarantees, upsetting teammates and chemistry on the eve of the season beginning. After re-signing Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner to $130.7 million in extensions last weekend, the Seahawks are believed to have just over $2.5 million in cap space for this year, according to overthecap.com.
Shead is entering his fourth year; Seattle signed him as an undrafted free-agent cornerback out of Portland State in 2012. He started 2013 on the Seahawks practice squad, then joined the active roster as a special-teams contributor in November 2013. He has been a cornerback, free safety and now strong safety for Seattle. He appeared in all 16 games last season and made his first career start for a banged-up Chancellor.
He, like many Seahawks, expects Chancellor to report to camp this month — eventually. But until then, Shead says “this is his time.” In that regard, he is preparing as if he, not Chancellor, will be starting when Seattle’s season begins Sept. 13 in St. Louis.
“First of all, there’s nobody like Kam Chancellor,” Shead said.
“That’s our brother. I’m going to hold it down for him and don’t let the level of play drop, keep the standard and keep the bar set high.”