Kam Chancellor: What happened?


We have this discussion all the time among sports fans, fellow writers, random drunk guys sitting at the bar….. the Mount Rushmore Debate. Choose a team, any team, and try to determine which four figure heads would be etched into the side of the cliff if they were to build a Mount Rushmore for that team.

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If you had that debate about the current collection of Seattle Seahawk players, Kam Chancellor’s name would certainly be among those warranting consideration. He might not be in the final four, but he would HAVE to be in the running. Russell, Earl, Beast Mode, Coach Carroll and Richard Sherman might be more obvious to some, but Chancellor’s value to this franchise, and what the team has done on the field since he arrived in 2010, are immeasurable. Now, we are about to find out if he’s irreplaceable.

Because Kam Chancellor, locker room leader, Pro Bowl player, near Super Bowl MVP, has become…. dare I say, a traitor?

Chancellor officially extended his contract holdout into the regular season today at 1:00pm PST when, by not reporting, he forfeited his first game check of $267,647. He could still report tomorrow and take in enough of the team’s game prep to make a case to play on Sunday in St. Louis. Some still hold out hope of that happening.

I do not.

Chancellor and his representatives appear to be more dug in than ever. ESPN’s Ed Werder quoted an unnamed Seahawk player this morning saying they don’t think “we’re going to have him at all this season.” And if you doubt the validity of that assessment, consider this statement from another unidentified player:

"“We will win without him, and it will hit him.”"

That statement implies a state of defiance among the very players that Chancellor is known to serve as a leader, and in many cases a mentor, to. Wouldn’t you expect most players to side with Kam on this one? We hear it all the time: your window of opportunity in the NFL is so small, and the risks so high, you have to get what you can get while you can get it.

But this holdout, in a day and age where the Collective Bargaining Agreement (with one half of the “collective” part being the players themselves) is actually structured in such a way as to discourage and penalize them, goes against everything we have come to believe about the man Kam Chancellor has presented himself to be. Until now, he could have been the poster child for these new age, near-dynasty-level Pete Carroll Seahawks. Drafted in the 5th round, overlooked, without any fanfare and little expectation….. becomes leader and Pro Bowl player capable of changing the outcome of a game with a single play. It was Chancellor’s hit on Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas on Denver’s first drive in Super Bowl XLVII that set the tone for the game. In fact there were many who felt he should have been MVP.

I was one of them.

But what are we to think of him now? According to team officials this came without warning. Chancellor, who intimately knows how the organization operates in regards to contract negotiations and salary cap management, thinks he is the guy who should get an exception? The guy who preaches brotherhood and togetherness, and is credited with convincing the defense to attend the much-publicized, spiritually-cleansing Hawaii trip this offseason, is now willing to put himself above all of them?

We hear frequently about the bond between all members, past and present, of the Legion of Boom. Yet, reportedly, it’s the more lucrative contracts of “brothers” Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman that have Kam’s boxers in such a bundle.

Let’s get something straight, Kam Chancellor is not underpaid. He’s eighth overall in average annual salary among safeties. He could have gotten more if he had waited longer to sign his current deal, but chose to jump at a $5 million signing bonus because, at the time it was offered, the consensus around the league was that he got a lot of money, and got it earlier than most expected. I even remember when news broke of the deal thinking, “Wow, THAT much, THIS early?” But we were happy to have our enforcer locked up, right? Apparently, so was he.

"“I’ve got so many words it’s hard to throw them out there. I just feel great right now. The Seahawks organization has blessed me. It just feels good. I’m a happy person right now.” Kam Chancellor on April 23, 2013 after signing 5-year extension with $17 million in guarantees."

How quickly things change. Now Chancellor is trying to double dip. He’s pocketed the guaranteed money from the extension he signed just two years ago, and now with 3 years (and nearly $16.5 million) left on it he wants more.

I won’t get into the standoff in much more detail because we all know what’s at stake here and what’s happened to date. Ultimately, though, the Seahawks won’t renegotiate a deal with three years left on it. They simply can’t. The line at the door would be too long. Carroll and Schneider’s carefully crafted cap management plan, that could serve as a blueprint in dynasty-planning for other organizations, would be blown to shreds.

Chancellor could have done this differently. What if he had let the team know, privately, what he was feeling this offseason and how serious he was about acting on it? It may have given the Seahawks an opportunity to work out some sort of extension with him at that time. They could have sold it to the public as something they initiated, for long term planning and salary cap reasons. By dumping it all on them at the last minute, Kam backed Seattle into a corner. He should have known this was a losing endeavor.

How did it come to this? What happened along the way? How long has Kam known he was going to do this? Was it when he helped organize the Hawaii trip? Or at mini-camp when he announced he felt as strong and healthy as he ever has? Or was it all the way back in April of 2013 when he signed the last deal?

This has gone too far. There is no easy way out for either side. The team, understandably, has drawn their line in the sand. There is far too much for them to lose cave in.

Kam could concede, though. And if he wants to play this year, he’ll have to. He’s already lost money, but what is most unfortunate is the other thing he’s lost, even if he were to walk into VMAC tomorrow morning…..

His reputation.

Next: Hawks D Should Dominate Rams

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