RENTON Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril smiled while walking off the field from the practice they had just watched.
Chancellor in particular looked like himself: The comfortable, beloved soul of the Seahawks. He called out jokingly to teammates. He laughed.
His and Avril’s playing statuses aren’t so breezy. Signs continue to point to Chancellor, the thumping strong safety, and Avril, the Pro Bowl defensive end, not playing again for the Seahawks this season.
Beyond that, who knows?
Their coach says the Pro Bowl veterans’ status for the rest of 2017 because of neck and stinger nerve injuries will be settled soon.
“There will be some clarity, yes,” Pete Carroll said following practice Friday for Sunday’s game at San Francisco.
“We are just trying to respecting their process, what’s right for them. So we just continue to kind of report (to) you where they are, and we kind of leave it at that.
“There will be some things happen before too long.”
The most obvious option would be to put Chancellor on injured reserve, where Avril already is. That could happen when and if the Seahawks would want to sign another player to the active roster to play in a game--for Sunday’s game that would have to be by 1 p.m. Saturday, per league roster rules.
But Seattle may not be able to add any more contracts without shedding someone else’s; players on IR still get paid per their existing contracts. The team is so up against the NFL salary cap for 2017 it waived future Hall-of-Fame pass rusher Dwight Freeney and promoted rookie wide receiver David Moore from the practice squad this week, to save a little more than $200,000 over the final six games of the regular season.
Chancellor will miss his second consecutive game Sunday since he got hurt late in the win at Arizona Nov. 9 making a tackle on Cardinals running back Andre Ellington. Seattle is also without three-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who is out for the year following surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon in his right foot.
Last week during a practice, Chancellor and his wife walked into team headquarters, past the indoor practice field, past the locker room and upstairs. That’s where Seahawks general manager John Schneider’s office is, among those of other team leaders.
Avril has been on injured reserve since Oct. 20, and teammates such as fellow end Frank Clark have been scared by Avril’s injury and situation. On Oct. 1 Avril got kicked under the jaw by Indianapolis’ Jacoby Brissett while the Colts quarterback tried to scramble away from Avril’s diving attempt at a tackle. He could by rule return after Seattle’s game at Jacksonville Dec. 10--up to two players per team per season can return after they’ve been on IR for at least eight weeks.
But the Seahawks seem to be saving at least one if not both of their IR-return moves for running backs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise. Carroll said last week those two may end up “racing” to return in early January for the playoffs, if the Seahawks (6-4) advance to those for the sixth consecutive season.
Both Avril and Chancellor left the team after their injuries to seek multiple opinions of doctors about their futures.
And both don’t need to play if quality of life is an issue, as it of course can be with any type of neck injuries. Carroll has said their injuries are different, but situations of waiting to see and weighing medical opinions for long-term well-being are the same.
Avril, 31, signed a $28.5 million contract extension in December 2014. He’s seen $20.5 million of that so far, including $4.5 million he is earning for this season. The final year of his deal is 2018, at a non-guaranteed $7 million.
Chancellor, 29, signed his long-sought extension this August. It gave him $25 million guaranteed.
He’d wanted that third contract for more two years, including during his holdout that lasted two games into the 2015 season.
Injuries like the one he now has and sudden career mortality like he may be facing are why.
Carroll said DeShawn Shead had a great week of rehabilitation and work trying to come back from two knee surgeries (reconstructive in January, clean-up in July). The coach said again the 2016 starting right cornerback has a chance to return to playing before the end of this season.
With Sherman out and now rookie Shaquill Griffin also out from a concussion he got this past Monday in the loss to Atlanta, the Seahawks will start Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane at cornerback against the 49ers.