On one hand, I’m surprised the Kam Chancellor holdout has lasted this long. But on the other, I’m not -- Kam is confident in his football abilities and has a strong sense of pride and accomplishment (as he should). Chancellor, the defensive captain of the NFL’s best defense, is refusing to show up to work due to contract disputes.
Let me set this article up by saying this: I love Kam. Kam is the emotional leader of the NFL’s greatest secondary, a league-wide influential player, and puts the "boom" in Legion of Boom.
Many Seahawks players refer to Kam as the player you go to if you have a problem in the Seahawks locker room. He’s also one of the most respected players in the Seahawks locker room. Players have referred to Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas as "dogs" – but Kam as the "lion". The impact Kam’s presence has had on this team is unmatched.
If you look at the recent Seahawks Super Bowl runs – Kam has always come through as one of the most consistent and game-changing players. Players, teams, and opposing coaches fear him – but they also respect him.
Kam is currently paid at the top of the strong safety market in the NFL - and the market hasn’t changed much (despite the media narratives). Under a four year/$28M contract, Kam currently makes $7M in average annual value and likely wants the Seahawks to offer him an extension worth $2-3M more in AAV (average annual vallue).
Other strong safeties around his pay-grade include Reshad Jones from Miami, Donte Whitner from Cleveland, Morgan Burnett from Green Bay, and Aaron Williams from Buffalo. Kam makes more than all of these guys (who average in the $6M ish range) - except for Reshad, who averages about $3,000 more than Kam.
This whole contract dispute derives from the fact that Kam doesn’t want to be paid like a strong safety – he wants to be paid more like a free safety. He wants to be paid above and beyond like a "special player," based on what we've heard.
I understand where he’s coming from – in terms of wanting to set up his family for financial success for future generations. However, from a club perspective, now is not the right time.
We’re now roughly one week until the Seahawks first regular season game. Kam has racked up over a million dollars in fines, missed all of training camp, many team practices and functions, and all four preseason games. The second Kam misses a regular season game – he starts forfeiting game checks. A game check for Kam is $267,647.
At this point – it's been rumored that the Seahawks front office does not expect Kam to play the first regular season game, but they don’t believe he will miss more than the first game. Will he? That remains to be seen.
Another rumor floating around says that the current Seahawks' offer is to wipe away 70% of his fines (which are at the team’s discretion) and to partially guarantee part of his 2016 base salary. This way – they still don’t set a bad business precedent and discourage future players from considering holding out.
However, at this point, it doesn’t seem like that’s enough for Kam. Clearly, the pot needs to be sweetened a little bit more.
The problem with giving into Kam’s contract demands is that he just finished the first year of his new contract extension. He will be entering his second year of a four-year deal (Kam signed the four-year extension in 2013, meaning: the first year of his new four year contract was the 2014 season, while in 2013, Kam was still finishing up the last year of his rookie deal; So yes - Kam signed the deal two years ago...but he's only one year into the contract extension). That’s why this whole dispute is interesting – as most NFL teams refuse to even renegotiate a contract with players until the conclusion of the third contract year. Kam hasn’t even started his second year.
In my opinion, the consequences of setting a business precedent are far worse than losing Kam Chancellor.
If the Seahawks give into Kam’s full demands, players could potentially be lined up for years outside the Seahawks front office asking their contract to be treated the same. Some would say this current Kam situation was birthed from the Seahawks’ move to re-work Marshawn Lynch’s contract. However, it’s a slightly different situation. But I bet Kam doesn’t see it that way.
Michael Bennett, if he saw Kam get a new contract, would most likely be enraged. Bennett is not happy with his contract but has still opted to come into work. He was very open about this. Players entering the second year of their deals could come to the Seahawks front office asking to be treated the same way as Kam. Would Earl and Sherman do the same – if Kam’s contract got reworked? I doubt it – but I also doubted that I would ever see Kam do something like this.
There has also been a recent flurry of trade reports – most specifically the Giants. But let me ask you this: what team wouldn’t be interested if the one of the Seahawk’s most notable safeties was potentially looking for another team. A trade involving Kam Chancellor is unlikely.
If Kam really wants to hurt the Seahawks - he will holdout till Week 11. He'll suit up for Week 11 and play the reason of season...meaning he will still accrue a season towards free agency while doing the most damage to the Hawks by playing the least amount of games. It would, however, cost him millions of dollars.
I still love Kam Chancellor. He’s a beast and probably the NFL’s best strong safety. He’s a game changer. And he deserves to be paid more money – that’s just what you do for "special players". However, now is not the right time to do this.