The Seattle Seahawks are in the middle of a contract dispute with safety Kam Chancellor, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
Despite having three years and over $US19 million left on the four-year, $US28 million extension he signed in 2013, Chancellor has been holding out of training camp, racking up potential fines in hopes of getting a pay raise.
This puts the Seahawks in a tough position. After giving Russell Wilson an $US87 million extension and Bobby Wagner a $US43 million extension, the Seahawks have just over $US5 million in cap space left. That cap space goes away next season when Wilson and Wagner’s extensions kick in, adding to the big contracts of Richard Sherman, Jimmy Graham, Marshawn Lynch, and Earl Thomas, among others.
With Chancellor holding out, the awkward situation the Seahawks have known is coming has arrived. With the Seahawks capped out, having paid all of their young, talented players, they’re going to have to let players go if they want to keep their core together.
That is, if they want to pay Chancellor.
The other possibility for the Seahawks is to let Chancellor sit out until he folds. The Seahawks can currently fine Chancellor $US30,000 for every preseason practice he misses. They can also recoup 25% of his prorated signing bonus. Once the regular season begins, they can fine him over $US260,000 for every game he misses. If the Seahawks want to play hardball, Chancellor will either forfeit a ton of money, or he’ll give up and report to the team.
However, the Seahawks don’t benefit from losing Chancellor. Former Seahawk Michael Robinson went on NFL Network on Monday and said Chancellor is willing to miss the entire season for a raise. Robinson also described why the Seahawks should fold and give Chancellor a new deal (via Seattle Post-Intelligencer):
“People have to understand that Kam (Chancellor) is not only a leader on this defence — he’s a team leader. He’s a guy that Pete (Carroll) can go to and be able to talk to a guy like Marshawn (Lynch). Be able to talk to a guy on the offensive side of the ball to get him straight. He is everything to this team.
“I know there are guys out there making plays for the Seahawks right now, but nobody’s Kam Chancellor. Nobody sets the tone physically like Kam Chancellor. Nobody sets the tone in that city (like him).”
Robinson continued, saying that the Seahawks will eventually need to pay Chancellor down the road, so it’s worth getting it done now, considering his value:
“Sometimes you have to pay a guy what he’s worth. Maybe it is a little earlier, but you have to pay a guy what he’s worth to show the team look, we support a guy who’s putting in the hard work, we support what you’re doing, we support the dirty work that you do for us because, again, I was one of those guys for the Seahawks. Kam does the dirty work behind the scenes.”
The bigger problem is that the Seahawks, as an organisation, have set a precedent about team-building, as ESPN 710 Seattle’s Danny O’Neil argues. They have made a focus on finding young, talented players through the draft, and they have rewarded them when their time was up. Paying Chancellor three years ahead of his free agency would break that precedent:
The trouble comes years down the line when you take off that microscope and look at the broader situation. To renegotiate Chancellor’s contract with three years left on it would say that Seattle is willing to rewrite deals to keep its best players happy.
It would allow players to ask for what is fair and what they deserve regardless of the number of years left on their contract, and while that might not sound all that problematic — being fair and equitable to employees — wait until you see the line of guys who want to talk about how much they’re supposed to make next year.
There is no simple answer here. On one hand, the Seahawks have a precedent to maintain, and they rewarded Chancellor two years ago with a long-term extension. If they pay Chancellor now, that adds even more to their increasingly large bill, meaning they will have more personnel decisions to make just to keep their core together.
However, they would also dearly miss Chancellor during the season, and if Chancellor believes he’s worth more than he’s making (especially with Sherman and Thomas making $US12 million and $US8 million in 2015, respectively), he has every right to hold out.
Nobody is sure where this standoff will end, but eventually one side has to blink. Either way, it could cultivate bad feelings between the sides, continuing what has been a surprisingly turbulent offseason for the Seahawks.
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