The Seattle Seahawks have a very good roster, but what's especially nice and hopeful about their team is that the vast majority of current Seahawks are young and signed through 2017, at least. This series leading up to the regular season opener on September 11 will take a closer look at 30 such players, all of whom won't be turning 30 this year.
Player: Kam Chancellor, S
How acquired: Fifth round pick (133rd overall) in 2010 draft out of Virginia Tech
Free agent: 2018
This offseason has represented as much of a “transition to the next era of Seahawks football” as much as any since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over in 2010. That’s because Seattle has lost two of the biggest key figures involved in their rebuilding that season and their championship run in 2013: Marshawn Lynch (retirement) and Russell Okung (free agency). Hell, they even threw in a sign-and-retire by Chris Clemons to really pound it home.
Those moves serve as a reminder that nothing lasts forever, especially in the world of football where bodies are often battered and buried in less than five years. Perhaps no NFL body has given more punishment in the last six seasons than that of Kam Chancellor — But just because he’s the one delivering the hits, it doesn’t mean he’s not also suffering from the consequences.
From 2010 to 2013, Chancellor missed a total of one game. He had hip surgery in the 2014 offseason and missed two regular season games, then was hurt again two days before Super Bowl 49 against the New England Patriots and things have just seemed different with Chancellor ever since.
He held out for more money last year, missing two games, but it’s fair to wonder if he also just needed the rest and decided to test his hand at trying to get a raise while he was sidelined. In his second game back, Chancellor saved a win against the Detroit Lions by forcing a Calvin Johnson fumble less than a yard from the end zone with less than two minutes remaining. But he ended up missing three more games last season with a pelvis injury, and has missed most of training camp and all of the preseason this year with a groin injury. He returned to practice on Tuesday and by all accounts should be ready for the regular season, but will Kam have a more difficult time delivering the same hits after 100 professional games of being the hardest-hitter in the NFL?
When at full strength, Kam has sometimes been the best player on a Seattle defense that is full of great players. He’s a vocal leader, a hard-worker, an example of the right way to play the game, and a right-hand man to Pete Carroll. There could very well be a future in coaching for Chancellor and you’ll often see him within a few yards of Carroll on the sidelines. That’s an incredible amount of development for a guy who was considered too big to be a full-time safety when he was coming out of Virginia Tech six years ago and is a borderline Hall of Famer with a few more years of playing at this level.
But I’d by lying to myself (and betraying most of the setup in this article so far) if I didn’t say I was concerned about how many more games Chancellor has left in him.
Speaking of borderline Hall of Fame strong safeties who have played their entire careers for the Seahawks, Kenny Easley was finally nominated for the Hall just last week. If you had examined his case in 1987, when he was 28 (like Chancellor is now) and had just made the Pro Bowl for the fifth time in his seven seasons, Easley was an easy choice for the Hall. Mostly because you figured that wasn’t the end of his career ... but it was.
Easley had been in a lot of pain during his hard-hitting career, allegedly took way too many Advil at the advice of team trainers, and was suffering from kidney failure when a trade to the Cardinals in 1988 was voided following a physical.
I think safety is one of the hardest positions to play in the NFL and perhaps as punishing at times as being a running back. Chancellor’s body may hold up for another five years — like Troy Polamalu did playing until he was 33 and having some of his best seasons after he was 28 — or I wonder/worry that he could soon join Lynch and Okung as “former Seahawks” who will forever be remembered as core members of one of the greatest rebuilds in American sports history.
If Chancellor is healthy this season, then Seattle knows it has one of the 50 best defensive players in the NFL when he’s on the field and a significant advantage over every other team. That’s what we’re hoping for and that’s what we’re going to believe for now. He may seem like one of the older players on the team — because he is -- but he’s also still only 28. Let’s hope for a healthy season that warrants a contract extension with the team next year. Then maybe we won’t have to worry about any holdouts or lingering injuries in 2017 and he can go back to doing what he does best: