By Matt Calkins/The Seattle Times
The hit on Vernon Davis. The strip of Calvin Johnson. The fumble that saved the season in Minnesota. The impact Kam Chancellor has had on the Seahawks over the past seven years has cemented his status as one of the NFL’s best defensive players this decade.
And that’s why, at the end of this season, it might be especially hard for fans to say goodbye. No, I don’t know what the future holds for Chancellor in Seattle. The strong safety is signed through the end of this season, and though he has expressed his desire to finish his career as a Seahawk, the team hasn’t offered him an extension.
Teammate Michael Bennett has been vocal about how valuable Chancellor has been to the team, and you have to think most 12s are in agreement. But when it comes to contracts, executives have to have the same mentality as poker players – you leave emotion out of it.
Here’s what we know about Chancellor: Despite his measurable productivity when he was healthy last year, he did miss four games due to injury. He missed three due to injury the previous season, and given his bone-crushing approach to every snap, it’s reasonable to assume he won’t be in uniform every Sunday in 2017, either.
Also, the Seahawks went 2-1-1 when Chancellor was sidelined in 2016 – and managed to hold the Cardinals to six points in 75 minutes.
Here’s what else we know about Chancellor: He turns 30 next April. This wouldn’t be a huge deal if he were a quarterback, place-kicker or even wide receiver, but when you play a position that endures as much punishment as a strong safety, 30 tends to be the new 50. So if you’re Seahawks general manager John Schneider, you’re faced with a dilemma. You’re looking at a guy who played a monumental role in leading your team to two straight Super Bowls and has been a cornerstone of the Legion of Boom. You’re looking at a guy whose name has become synonymous with big hits and clutch plays. You’re looking at a guy who may very well have a future in the Seahawks’ ring of honour.
And you’re also looking at a guy whose best days may be behind him. Again, I don’t know what the future holds for Chancellor. It might be impossible to say until we see how he plays this season.
But I suspect that between him, Justin Britt and Jimmy Graham – all impact players whose deals expire this season – Kam will be the one who ends up becoming a free agent.
The Seahawks don’t have a history of paying players “thank you” money. You could argue they did so with Marshawn Lynch after the Super Bowl loss, but those were extenuating circumstances given the nature of that defeat.
So if you’re a super fan, the idea of parting ways with a player as iconic as Chancellor may be hard to stomach. But it’s also a concept you might have to get used to over the next few years. The Seahawks have players such as Cliff Avril, a 31-year-old defensive end whose contract is up in 2018. They have players such as Richard Sherman, a 29-year-old cornerback who, in addition to coming off his most tumultuous season yet, also has a deal expiring in two years.
There is no doubt that fans have developed an emotional attachment to the Seahawks’ core players over what has been the most dominant stretch in franchise history. Soon, however, they may have to adjust to watching those core players go.
Sunday, training camp begins for one of the more intriguing teams in the NFL. And whether it be their running game, the ability of their quarterback, or chemistry issues, questions surround this group from every angle. One of the chief questions is whether Chancellor will get his extension, but the more time that passes without a deal, the less likely it looks as though it will happen.
There has been some debate as to just how open the Seahawks’ “window” is. Some think it’s a centimetre or two from closing given the ages of many of their stars, yet ESPN ranked them No. 2 in their recent Future Power Rankings list. Who knows? Maybe their future is bright. But that bright future may not include many of the players who brought them to prominence in the first place.
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