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Weighing all the scenarios of what the Seahawks could do with Kam Chancellor

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Is 2016 the last year of Kam Chancellor in Seattle?

Detroit Lions v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

On Saturday, Pete Carroll ruled Kam Chancellor out for the Monday Night Football extravaganza against the Buffalo Bills (who currently lead the NFL in rushing), due to a pulled groin he sustained in practice the week after the bye week. This is now the fourth straight game that “Bam Bam” Kam is going to miss this season, which is half of all of the Seahawks games so far in 2016.

This isn’t the first time that Chancellor has missed games; in fact, this will now be the seventh game he’s missed in the last 11 regular season contests. For any player, and moreso for a starter, All-Pro, unanimous defensive team captain and the “Godfather” of the team (as other players have previously dubbed him), that is too much time to miss. Especially when that player wants a new contract that pays him at the top of the market.

You have to be on the field to get paid.

Let me be clear, I’m a huge fan of Kam and love his playing style, as I feel that’s the way football is meant to be played. Physically. But do I feel that Chancellor is going to be awarded with a contract extension in the offseason? No and here’s why.

First - obviously the missed games, and they are becoming more and more frequent as it seems Chancellor’s physical playing style that we all love, is starting to break down his body. For him to get a top of the market extension, he needs to be healthy and available.

Strike one.

Second - the defense hasn’t missed a beat in his absence. Yes they’ve had their issues (coverage mishaps against Atlanta leading to two easy touchdowns) but the defense still put together a three quarter shut down of the top offense in the NFL. Plus, the more playing time Kelcie McCray gets, the better communication he gets with the Legion of Boom.

Plus, Gregg Bell over at The News Tribune got some great info on the situation here.

Here’s what Pete Carroll had to say when asked by Bell if the defense is getting used to playing without Chancellor:

“Well, I think we are better at it, yeah. We are better at it. When Kelcie gets back there with the guys, it’s really about communication and being sharp and the evaluation of what’s going on. It’s that stuff that he’s continued to grow at. He’s playing well. He’s playing hard for us and has done a nice job. It’s just making sure that we are maximizing all the calls and the opportunities that we have. And so it just gets better. It certainly gets better.”

Then, Bell asked Kris Richard, and he added “Kelcie has done a fantastic job of coming in and filling in. He’s played great. We’ve been able to make our calls as usual, and we’re balling’”.

So what can we take from this? Even though missing their All-Pro strong safety, the Seahawks defense is still leading the NFL in points allowed per game. Yes they’ve had issues, but they’ve also been dominate most of the time.

Strike two.

Third - Chancellor’s remaining money on his contract is structured to give the team options on the last year. When he signed his first contract extension paying him $28 million before his amazing performance in 2013, John Schneider and his front office structured the contract accordingly.

Sportrac.com

The above chart from Sportrac is showing that Chancellor received a $5 million signing bonus, with the team prorating it equally over the contract. However, they didn’t do the same with the dead money there were taking each year. As they do in the majority of their contracts, they front-load the dead money on the cap hits at the beginning, as they anticipate that the player will never see the final year of their contract either due to a new extension, release, or trade.

In Chancellor’s final year, he’s going to have a $6,800,000 base salary, but have a cap hit of $8,125,000. But here’s the kicker, there’s only a dead cap hit if he’s traded or released by June 1st of 2017 of $1 million. That means John Schneider would have an additional $7,125,000 in cap money for the 2017 season. That is significant.

Strike three.

So where does this leave Kam Chancellor heading into 2017?

Let’s recap

  1. You have to be healthy, available and on the field to be considered in future plans for the team.
  2. His fill-in replacement, Kelcie McCray, is playing at a high level.
  3. His contract favors the team to dictate what happens next.

What are the options?

Scenario 1: The team lets Chancellor play out his contract, then hit the market as a free agent in 2018.

For the TEAM: Doable, and would probably get a 4th-5th round comp pick in 2019 IF Chancellor can remain healthy and plays at his normal All-Pro self level in 2017.

For the PLAYER: Doable, as he would make $5.8 million in 2017 and has a chance to earn his last big contract in 2018 if he plays well and stays healthy.

Odds of happening? It’s not likely, but I can see it happening with the team wanting to maximize Chancellor’s best playing days and still get a return with a comp pick. However, I think it’s more likely that the team would prefer to have a HIGHER return SOONER.

Scenario 2: The team awards Chancellor with a contract extension after this season, adding an additional two years to his contract, paying him as a top 10 safety.

For the TEAM: Doable, as they can set up his new contract to lesson his cap hit in 2017 and make it manageable going forward as the salary cap rises, and no new big contract extensions are expected in the 2017 offseason. This also rewards one of their best players and team captains.

For the PLAYER: Best possible scenario, as this is what Chancellor was going for when he held out at the beginning of the 2015 season.

Odds of happening? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Scenario 3: The team cuts Chancellor prior to June 1st, 2017.

For the TEAM: Very doable, but unless seriously injured, the team will not receive any compensation by outright releasing him. only salary cap relief.

For the PLAYER: Not a terrible scenario, unless he wants to stay in Seattle. If he’s healthy this would allow him to hit free agency one year before hitting the 30-year-old cliff in the NFL.

Odds of happening? It’s not happening, unless he’s injured or recovering from a major surgery and not expected to play or contribute in 2017.

Scenario 4: The team signs Chancellor to contract extension adding two additional years to his contract, locking him up until 2019, at roughly $5 Million APY.

For the TEAM: Very doable dollar wise, and it would keep their locker room leader under contract probably for the remainder of his career, albeit it’s if he can stay healthy. The contract would probably have a decent signing bonus with a low base salary and little to no dead money the last two years.

For the PLAYER: This could be a tough decision for Chancellor. He would get another big check, but not as big if he were a free agent or traded. He would however, get to stay in Seattle with the LOB and as the leader of one of the best defenses to ever play over a multi-year span. The team could also look to move his role into more of a SAM linebacker in a situation like this, which would help extend his career by playing less snaps, and also would limit any decline in abilities, such as speed.

Odds of happening? Somewhat likely. I could see both the Seahawks and Chancellor wanting to make something work to keep him in Seattle, at least while they also have Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas in town.

Scenario 5: The team trades Chancellor to an up-and-coming, non-terrible team for a mid (4th round) draft pick.

For the TEAM: Best scenario and could probably have a few teams interested and might be able to get a 3rd rounder or an additional late round pick for Chancellor.

For the PLAYER: Assuming Chancellor would want to stay in Seattle for his entire career, not the best thing, but in terms of his contract and his earning potential? Great scenario. A team trading for him would want a proven veteran that would immediately be respected in the locker room to lead their defense and start turning their team around. They also wouldn’t just trade a mid round draft pick for a 1 year contract, so any trade would come with a new contract for Chancellor, and one that would probably pay him in the $6-8 million APY range, that is structured so the team can easily get out of it in the last couple of years if need be.

Odds of happening? Most likely. Think of a team like the Washington Redskins. Not a dominant team, but they are competitive and need help on defense and have started getting better by adding Josh Norman at CB. So the need is there for a player like Chancellor. The Redskins general manager, Scot McCloughan, is also well tied to the Seahawks, as he was the director of college scouting in 2000-2004 and also as the Senior personnel manager in 2010-2013, and definitely has a good relationship with John Schneider.

In the 2015 NFL draft, Schneider traded three draft picks and swapped another with McCloughan to draft Tyler Lockett. Towards the end of the 2015 season, it was rumored that McCloghan did Schneider a favor by releasing Christine Michael from their practice squad. This allowed Schneider to re-sign Michael without having to guarantee the rest of his 2015 salary if it didn’t work out, which would have been the case if he signed him straight from the practice squad. So the relationship is clearly there. Other interested teams would be the usual; Oakland, Jacksonville, and probably few others would at least want to find out what the selling price is.

As for Chancellor, Washington would probably be the best situation. He’s from Virginia Beach and his role model was Sean Taylor who he styled his play after. A cool nugget of information: Chancellor watches Taylor highlights before every game to get pumped up. So how cool would it be for him to get to play for his home team?

Things We Know

  • The Seahawks don’t overpay for players.
  • The Seahawks like to have a young roster, keeping the roster youthful which also keeps contracts down, and aren’t afraid to play young players.
  • Kelcie McCray is proving to be a more than capable replacement, who would come at a much lower cost than Chancellor if he is extended.
  • Kam Chancellor is an All-Pro and Super Bowl MVP at his best, and at his worst, losing speed to cover tight ends, or not on the field at all due to injuries.

I for one would love to see Kam retire in Seattle. No other player embodies what Pete Carroll envisions of his defense more than Chancellor, and he was there back in 2010 when it all started. However, I know that John and Pete aren’t nostalgic, and tend to let veterans go a year before they hit their decline. As much as I hate to say it, I can definitely see where 2016 could be the last year that we see Kam as a Seahawk, and if it is, hopefully we’ll get to see him on the field more than we have been of him on the sideline lately.

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Posted by Field Gulls: For Seattle Seahawks News and Analysis on Monday, November 7, 2016