Seahawks Insider Blog

Why Kam Chancellor’s holding out, why the Seahawks are (at least saying they are) holding firm

Kam Chancellor’s holdout from training camp passed its seventh day on Thursday. And now comes word of what he may want from the Seahawks.
Kam Chancellor’s holdout from training camp passed its seventh day on Thursday. And now comes word of what he may want from the Seahawks. AP

Kam Chancellor’s holdout reached its seventh day Thursday. That means the maximum the Seahawks can fine Chancellor is up to $210,000 in daily sanctions, plus another $160,000 so far as a portion of his $1 million proration on his $5 million signing bonus he got in his $28 million contract extension before the ‘13 season.

Seattle’s ultra-popular team leader and ultra-pounding strong safety wants more than the $4.45 million guaranteed in base pay he is due this season on his contract that runs through the 2017 season.

ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweeted Thursday a link to an entry where she writes “a source” has given her this information regarding Chancellor’s holdout:

“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...

“My impression of Chancellor is that he’s a man of principal who gives his life path a lot of thought and meditation, and that he’s methodical about his options. One example illuminating the fact that Chancellor is dug into his holdout strategy for now: Wednesday was the first day, six days into his holdout, that the Seahawks could potentially come after his signing bonus. A team is allowed to recoup 15% of a player's signing bonus proration for that year. So that calculates to $150,000 of the $1M signing bonus that Chancellor has already earned for 2015.

“By the way, Kam has still yet to report.

“That’s why a source told me Chancellor is prepared to take his holdout potentially into the regular season if both sides can’t find middle ground.”

A few items to this.

Tough to imagine Anderson simply making this up out of the clear blue sky. So someone aligned with Chancellor’s way of the thinking, in the least, has likely outlined the defensive captain’s stance in this standoff. And it’s absolutely in line with what we’ve talked about here: moving money Chancellor is scheduled to earn in one or two of the final two years on his contract that remains after this season into up-front guarantees.

It’s what Seahawks general manager John Schneider did to get Marshawn Lynch into training camp after an eight-day holdout last year.

You can bet your “Bam Bam” Chancellor noticed how Lynch got $1.5 million more guaranteed before last season.

But for the last three years an entire half of the NFC champions’ team has revolved around Lynch: The offense. Russell Wilson’s read-option game, Seattle play-action passing game, coach Pete Carroll’s system predicated upon field position and defense -- none of it would work, or have a chance to, without Lynch’s powering for the most yards rushing in the league since 2011.

As great as Chancellor is -- and his hitting and play-making on the ball are undeniably among the NFL’s most lethal -- can you really say the league’s top-ranked defense the last three seasons would suddenly become the 1980s San Diego Chargers’ D without him in there, while Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and friends keep playing? I can’t either.

Plus, 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 right 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. If not, he doesn’t get paid any more. Not by the Seahawks, anyway.

As Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright, who signed a $27 million, four-year contract extension in December, said to me while we were discussing Chancellor’s holdout last week: “We are so young — I'm 26 — and we've got to make this last ... 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.”

So Chancellor’s desire to get paid more now like Lynch did is understandable.

But the Seahawks’ (at least public) stance of Schneider reiterating his team policy of not re-doing contracts that have more than one season remaining on them is how they have to do business. 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 like Chancellor three seasons still left on the $56 million extension he got a year after Chancellor’s, wanting more cash now, too? 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.

You get the idea -- and the position the Seahawks have to take.

I can’t see Chancellor taking this into the regular season. Seattle could take back 15 percent of his $1 million proration for 2015, or $150,000 starting Wednesday, the sixth day of camp. And starting Thursday the team could recover $10,000 for each additional day Chancellor skips, with a maximum of $250,000 of that $1 million proration during training camp. That’s $250,000. The team can take back an additional 25 percent with the first missed regular-season game, if his holdout goes that long. And so on, up to a maximum fine of all his $1 million proration.

But I also can’t see the Seahawks caving and giving him “the majority of $9.65 million” in future salaries into a signing bonus, as Anderson writes. Not if they want to keep a championship core from imploding from its own success.

It may be time to find some loose change in the couches around the offices of Seahawks executives, though.