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Reports: Kam Chancellor signs 3-year, $36 million contract extension with Seahawks

Veteran strong safety goes from begrudging holdout to satisfying raise in less than two years

NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Training Camp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

For days Kam Chancellor and the Seattle Seahawks have been indicating they were close to a deal to extend the seventh-year strong safety, and now multiple reports confirm that terms are in place. According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson and NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport, the new contract will keep Chancellor under club control through 2020—a 3-year extension worth $36 million.

Those figures make Chancellor the third-highest paid safety in the league by average total value per year, behind the Kansas City ChiefsEric Berry who signed in February for $13 million a year and the Arizona CardinalsTyrann Mathieu whose second contract last August offered slightly over $12.5 million. The $12 million a year is also tied with Miami Dolphins safety Reshad Jones, who signed in March. Chancellor’s deal doesn’t go as late as those extensions, which expire in 2023 and 2022 (both Honey Badger and Jones) respectively, but Rapaport says the guaranteed money adds up to $25 million—giving Chancellor the highest guaranteed APY in the league and also giving him perhaps an opportunity to sign another lucrative deal at age 32 if he can stay healthy.

The toll of Chancellor’s physical style and occasional injuries to his groin and ankles fueled speculation that the four-year deal Seattle signed him to in 2013 might be his last with the club as the team struggled to balance salaries of its many defensive stars. Worried about the the lack of guaranteed money under that contract, Chancellor held out during training camp in 2015 and did not rejoin the team until after the first two games that season—both Seahawks losses. With Seattle, general manager John Schneider has declined to extend or negotiate with players before the final year of their deals however, and Schneider never budged despite the obvious value Chancellor brings to the defense.

Since early 2016, however, Chancellor as well as Pete Carroll and Schneider all insist the friction from those early 2015 days are over as Chancellor has become celebrated as much for his leadership and contribution to unity on the team as for his body-racking hits all over the field. At this point failure to keep Chancellor a Seahawk might have so wounded the locker room beyond the point that it might have been offset by future financial stability. Chancellor had bone spurs removed from his ankles earlier this offseason, but claims his body feels as healthy as it’s ever been. And despite concerns that he might suddenly break down, Chancellor has demonstrated his onfield value over and over since his holdout—famously winning a Monday night game against the Detroit Lions in 2015, creating the hit that produced a game-changing fumble recovery against the New England Patriots in 2016 (plus covering Rob Gronkowski on that game’s final play) and many other examples.

According to ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia, all projected starters on the Seattle defense are now signed through the 2018 season. The portion of the entire defense signed through next year now accounts for almost $100 million against a hypothetical $170-175 million salary cap (depending on the structure of Kam’s deal in that first year), which projects higher than 60 percent of the cap when factoring another $5-10 million in future free agent signees, draft picks or other new contracts at the bottom of the roster. It’s a large number but nothing unwieldy compared to what Schneider has been balancing since 2014 or so. Of course, the new extension could have been structured with more of Chancellor’s cap hits pushed toward the back of the deal anticipating an expanding cap. Field Gulls will provide those details as they emerge.

Chancellor leaps above his defensive backfield mate Earl Thomas, whose latest contract worth $10 million a year will be up in 2019—in 2018 only Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner will make more. But Thomas has continually celebrated large contracts signed by other safeties around the league as a mark of increased value for the position, so surely he won’t begrudge his teammate who entered the league with him in 2010. With the additions of Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson in the draft, the Seahawks appear set at safety (barring catastrophe) through the length of Thomas’s deal.

For Chancellor, it’s a resolution more than two years in the making and potentially lays the foundation to playing his whole career in Seattle. 2020 would mark his 11th season with the Seahawks.