The Seahawks lost one of their best players ever when Kam Chancellor announced he was retiring. Seattle can and will survive his loss.
Just days ago, Kam Chancellor announced that his injury showed no healing, and he felt he had to walk away from the game. The paperwork hasn’t hit the league office, so he isn’t 100 percent absolutely positively definitely retired, but he’s retired. This leaves the Seahawks in a terrible bind. How do you replace one of the all time greats? Take heart, as Seattle may have the players they need already.
That’s a key part of the answer: players plural, not player. I don’t believe Seattle, or any other team, really has one guy who could replace Kam Chancellor. He’s listed as a strong safety, but over his career he took hundreds of snaps at linebacker, free safety and even slot cornerback. He was indeed a jack of all trades for the Seahawks. Unlike the corollary of the old phrase, Chancellor was an absolute master of the strong safety position.
So who can take his place for the Seahawks? The first candidate is the player who’s already done it, Bradley McDougald. McDougald can play in different spots too. He filled in for Earl Thomas in weeks eight and nine, then moved over to the strong side when Chancellor went down in week ten.
He’s probably the equal of Chancellor in coverage – not that he hits like Chancellor. No one has hit like that since Ronnie Lott. But McDougald isn’t nearly as strong in run support as Chancellor. So how can the Seahawks make up for this?
The Seahawks have more than McDougald
They do have Delano Hill. Now before you say big deal, he didn’t do anything last year, take a moment to think. Hill was a third round pick; Chancellor waited until the fifth. Hill had zero starts as a rookie; Chancellor had zero starts as a rookie too. I don’t have access to snap counts for 2010, but Chancellor had just 10 tackles and 6 assists as a rookie.
Hill didn’t fare nearly as well, but he did take 280 snaps on special teams, second highest on the team. Based on our own discussion of Hill in the draft, “It is not hard to imagine Hill taking Chancellor’s role once Chancellor is no longer with Seattle.”
Then there’s Tedric Thompson. The fourth round pick from Colorado didn’t get on to the field until week eight, but he made his mark. He got over 100 snaps on special teams and recovered two fumbles. Pro Football Focus grades Thompson higher in run support than either Hill or McDougald. Although since he was in for eight plays on defense, that grade seems a bit dicey.
Seahawks have new blood this season, too
There’s also Maurice Alexander, the free agent pickup from the Los Angeles Rams. He played well at free safety in 2016. He earned a grade of 82.9 from Pro Football Focus for his work. But in 2017 the Rams moved him to the strong side, and it didn’t suit him at all. Hopefully Ken Norton Jr and Nick Sorensen will get him back in the groove.
And in some packages, I can see a certain rookie linebacker that hits like a truck, hardly ever misses tackles, and whose motor is always running jumping into the game. Yeah, I have a mancrush on Shaquem Griffin. Sue me. So does corporate America, and every navy blue, wolf gray and action green blooded 12.
It’s true I still hope the Seahawks will come to their senses and at least take a look at former 49ers safety Eric Reid. For one thing, I think he could really help the team. For another, it might take six guys to replace the great Kam Chancellor. He was an amazing football player. But as our site expert Lee Vowell wrote, “A human being needs to worry about their health first…” Kam Chancellor gave all he could to the Seahawks. It’s time for others to step up.