No wonder Kam Chancellor and the Seahawks were so positive about all this.
The 29-year-old, four-time Pro Bowl strong safety was all smiles and appreciation after signing his three-year, $36 million contract extension with $25 million in guarantees on Tuesday. Agent Alvin Keels confirmed to The News Tribune the terms of the long-awaited deal -- which Chancellor has been seeking for years.
It’s a thank-you deal as much or more than it is about future performance, which is rare in the NFL.
“It’s a big relief,” Chancellor said. “It feels great to getting this off my shoulders and just getting back to ball.”
The new deal speaks as much about what the Seahawks feel about safety partner Earl Thomas and the team’s aging, but not yet aged, defensive core as it does Chancellor. This team has indicated it still, after more than a half-dozen years and two Super Bowls, are all in with its main guys. Chancellor, Thomas and three-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman are all under contract through 2018.
Chancellor’s extension kicks in beginning next year and keeps him under contract with Seattle through the 2020 season. On Monday, Chancellor said he wanted to retire as a Seahawk.
Coach Pete Carroll characterized Tuesday’s signing as the way to keep the team’s soul a Seahawk “for the rest of his career.”
“It’s all the right stuff,” Carroll said, “because he’s such a great person and a great player.”
"I appreciate what this organization has done for me,” Chancellor said.
“Now I can go out and be ‘Reckless Kam’ on the field."
And now Thomas and the rest of the Seahawks’ locker room can go forth with a clear sign general manager John Schneider and his contract decision makers are continuing to take care of its homegrown, core players as they near 30 years old.
“It’s a business. You never know. You never know what they are thinking upstairs,” Thomas said.
“But it just shows the loyalty that they have to their core nucleus, of us.
“He definitely deserves it.”
A couple hours earlier, before practice, Thomas told his partner on the back line of Seattle defense: “You’re buying dinner.”
Thomas and Chancellor arrived in Seattle and the NFL together in 2010 as fellow rookie draft picks. Thomas, 28, is a three-time All-Pro safety. He and Chancellor have been the back anchors to the league’s stingiest defense in allowing points in four of the last five seasons. That defense has led the Seahawks to two Super Bowls the last four years, including the franchise’s first NFL championship.
Thomas’ deal is coming up next.
His contract extension he signed in April 2014 has one year and a $8.5 million base salary left on it following this season. Thomas signed that one year after Chancellor signed his current contract that expires after this season and he will play out at $6.8 million in base pay.
Oh, yes, Thomas was watching what the Seahawks were going to do -- or not do -- with Chancellor. Especially after Schneider and Carroll drafted four defensive backs among their 11 picks this spring.
“I was watching very closely,” Thomas said. “You want to see, because I feel we are all right around the same age. You know, they brought a lot of new guys in.
“If the writing is on the wall, you know, I want to be able to see it. Because I know I’ll be next.
“But, like I’ve said, I’m very happy for Kam. And when that time comes, it comes.”
Chancellor’s time came Tuesday. It ended a quest for a new contract he began two years ago, with a fruitless holdout from training camp past the first two games of Seattle’s regular season in 2015.
“That was part of the process,” Chancellor said Tuesday. “What’s past is past. I put that behind me two years ago.”
The guaranteed money was king for Chancellor all along. That $25 million figure is an impressive one, considering the smashing Chancellor hasn’t played a full season since 2013 because of multiple injuries and that holdout. His new deal is in market range of the $33 million in guarantees Miami gave 29-year-old safety Reshad Jones in March.
Seattle was never going to guarantee Chancellor $33 million. That he got about 75 percent of that is a good deal for Chancellor, who got married this summer.
“We got the deal done, and I am happy with the deal, what the deal is,” Chancellor said when I asked him about the numbers.
I asked what it tells him about how the Seahawks continue to take care of their core.
“Like I said before, I trust where the process is going. I trust their word that they were going to take care of me,” Chancellor said. “It’s just a trust factor in everything that they told me. Everything that they told me that they were going to do, it happened. All the other guys, they see that and they are looking forward to their deals coming about in the near future.”
Carroll called it “the right thing to do.”
Chancellor said Tuesday he knew how close he was to getting it done, but didn’t want to let on. Just in case.
“I love this team,” he said. “They gave me the first opportunity -- the only opportunity (as one of the franchise’s best fifth-round picks ever, in 2010). And, you know, I would love to retire here.”
Asked how realistic he thinks retiring as a Seahawk is, Chancellor turned coy.
“As realistic as they make it,” he said.
Tuesday, the Seahawks made it very realistic. Up to $25 million in guarantees should set Chancellor and his new bride for life.
How long will his football life last? He said he wants to play “as long as the wheels let me, until the wheels fall off.”
He means his legs. Those have troubled him regularly since 2011, when he missed a game with a quadriceps injury. Since then he’s had groin pulls. He’s had bone spurs in his ankles. He had surgery on both ankles this offseason, resulting in him being in a wheelchair for 10 days.
He acknowledged with a chuckle his body has extensive mileage on it.
But then he added: “You see, the word ‘old,’ you are only as old as you feel.”
Carroll said Chancellor can play “for a long time” because of his preparation, his nutrition, his dedication to his craft: blasting men in other-colored jerseys who come near him.
“This is really the kind of thing that you want to do,” Chancellor’s only NFL coach said. “He’s a great kid. He’s a great leader. He’s a tough guy. He’s a heart-and-soul guy. He’s a fifth-round draft pick that goes all the way through from that and became a great football player and leader in our program.
“For us to have the chance to come together at this time, right in the middle and the heart of his career, to be able to reward him like this is really something special.”