Pete Carroll and Kam Chancellor have always come off as two of the very best friends on the Seattle Seahawks, which is why it’s all the more sad that Carroll may have hinted that Kam’s career is over.
"Cliff and Kam are going to have a hard time playing football again,'' Carroll says of Avril and Chancellor, but indicates it will be their decision.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) January 2, 2018
Kam left in Week 10’s win over the Cardinals with a neck injury and he was placed on injured reserve a few weeks later, putting the move on hold for salary reasons. The Seahawks went 6-3 with Kam this season and 3-4 without him.
Chancellor was signed to an extension on August 1 of last year. If he never plays again, it’ll likely be with the team releasing him or placing him on PUP or IR. He has no incentive to “retire” because that could mean him forfeiting some money to Seattle that he doesn’t have to forfeit. Kam is set to count $9.8 million against the cap next year, sixth-most on the team. A few rungs below him is Cliff Avril, also mentioned by Carroll as a player who may not be able to play again.
Avril suffered neck and spine injuries in Week 4 and was placed on injured reserve. He said at the time that he has no plans to retire, but Carroll’s comments on Tuesday suggest that plans may have changed. Avril had a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2016 and had 30 forced fumbles from 2008-2016. He’ll be 32 next season and has a cap hit of $8 million.
But Seattle can save $7.5 million by releasing him, which they’re certain to do if he is unlikely to play. Even if he can play, the team might feel more comfortable having the cap space at this point.
Losing either player will be a major blow to a defense coming off of its worst season since 2011, but replacing both will be basically impossible. Bradley McDougald played extremely well in Kam’s absence, but is also a free agent and we don’t really know if the Seahawks can afford to pay three safeties a starter’s salary in 2018 — especially since they just drafted Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson a year ago. Avril is a uniquely gifted defensive end and while Frank Clark can be disruptive, he has not gotten to the level of being a consistent pass rusher like his linemate.
The team was going to have to look for pass rushing help regardless, but this feels more like 2013 again, when the Seahawks rebooted their defensive end positions with the dual signings of Michael Bennett and Avril. With many people speculating that Bennett will be gone too, it could truly be the end of era for a defense that will be remembered decades from now for their accomplishments from 2012-2015, with much of that success coming courtesy of Kam and Cliff.
This is too soon (and too short) to be a memoriam piece on either player, especially for Kam who is certain to be in the Ring of Honor one day, but let this be the start of the “acceptance” phase. We knew that things didn’t look good for Kam or Cliff, but after Carroll’s comments, we may need to accept that they definitely are not okay.