"We are taking care of all of our guys, every single one of our guys. We're working Kam right now and we're going to continue to work our guys." - Pete Carroll, via Mike Sando
Pete Carroll says a lot of things - some in passing, some off the cuff, and with a lot of it, you're best not too read too much into the meaning. However, that particular sentence seems pretty specific so let's consider what he's said: The Seahawks are (apparently) currently in talks with Kam Chancellor's representation about a longer-term deal. A '2nd deal' for the 23-year old strong safety with a Pro Bowl already on his resume. For Chancellor to stay with the team that drafted him, though, he may have to take a slightly more reasonable contract than he may be hoping for. It's anybody's guess as to how far these talks have gone, but according to Carroll, they're in progress.
Strong safeties don't get paid as much as free safeties. There's a hierarchy for lucrative contracts by position and strong safety isn't generally considered to be at the top. The ability to cover is the inherent value-creator for the good free safeties and multi-faceted free safeties are exceedingly difficult to find. While the Seahawks do play Kam as the deep protector at times (which I'm sure his agent will bring up in negotiations) he hasn't been the model of dependability in coverage.
Of course, Kam is one of the best 'box' safeties in the game, acts as a de facto fourth linebacker for the Seahawks in their base defense, and watching some of the Seahawks' late-season games of late is a good reminder of just how key of a role Chancellor plays.
I broke down one such example HERE from the Seahawks-Niners game in Seattle - Kam came across the formation from the opposite side of the field on a Niners' counter run play to strip Frank Gore - it was an unbelievable read by Kam that kind of talent shouldn't be overlooked or underestimated. Also not to be overlooked is the idea that Kam is the defense's enforcer, and there is very likely a legitimate 'intimidation' factor that he creates for opposing receivers. Case in point, late first quarter of that same game: Kam blew up Vernon Davis with clean hit, jarring the ball loose on what looked to be a good chance for a touchdown on the wheel route pass from Colin Kaepernick.
Several plays later, after Davis had left the game and the Niners had received their penalty yards, the Seahawks blocked a field goal and Richard Sherman returned the deflection for a touchdown to put the Hawks up 21-0. How different would that game had been if Kam wasn't the one delivering that hit? Would Davis had caught that pass, and scored, making the score 14-7 and giving the Niners some much-needed momentum? It's an interesting thought. That was certainly a galvanizing defensive stop in the game, and a momentum boon for the Hawks.
That said, what Kam brings in run support and the big hit intimidation factor, he gives up a bit as a prototypical cover safety, and he did have a few frustrating lapses in the Playoffs that resulted in touchdowns, against both Washington and Atlanta.
What does that mean? Well, it probably means he's not going to get Dashon Goldson money. Hell, the Niners wouldn't even pay Dashon Goldson Dashon Goldson money. Goldson, who is a very good deep-middle cover free safety, got five-years, $41.25 million, with $22 million guaranteed from the Bucs. That's a number that Earl Thomas will have in mind when his contract year comes up. Kam, on the other hand, might be best to have another 49er in mind when he's formulating his demands: Donte Whitner. Whitner, a 2012 Pro Bowler (took Kam's spot in the Pro Bowl, actually, after Kam got the honors in 2011), signed a 3-year, $11.75M contract with the Niners back in 2011, with only $4M guaranteed. Whitner was the 8th overall pick in 2006, too.
Now, my guess is that Kam will get more than Whitner did. As pointed out in the comments below, in 2011, strong safety Roman Harper signed a four-year, $25 million contract with $16M guaranteed, and more recently, LaRon Landry signed a four-year, $24 million contract with $11M guaranteed and Glover Quin signed a five-year, $23.5 million contract: these are the numbers Kam's reps will probably be taking to the team as a baseline.
But, the question becomes, how much will Kam take to stay in Seattle? The Seahawks still have Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and K.J. Wright to start thinking about and assuming they have plans to ink Sherman/Thomas for sure, you have to start asking yourself how much they've budgeted for Chancellor. Does Seattle see Kam as an integral piece of the core nucleus of the defense or do they see him as a replaceable puzzle piece that comes with a ceiling cost? Can you find a hard-hitting box safety in the Draft? Can Kam get more money on the open market? Does he want to stay in Seattle and take a slight discount? These are all questions to keep in mind as the team negotiates with Bam Bam Kam.