The Seattle Seahawks have some key decisions to make that could see the dissolution of their championship core.
The Seahawks have been in a drawn-out contract war with Russell Wilson that most recently saw Wilson turn down a big $US21 million-per-year offer for something even bigger.
However, Wilson’s contract status is not the only financial uncertainty the Seahawks are facing. According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, safety Kam Chancellor may hold out of training camp for more money:
Chancellor is in the third year of a five-year, $US35 million contract that he signed in 2013, due to make $US5.6 million this season. Chancellor may have some leverage as he plays an increasingly important role on defence with Earl Thomas potential missing the beginning of the season with a shoulder injury.
Moreover, he has the backing of his teammates:
Get yo money bam bam!
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) July 29, 2015
The problem is the Seahawks will have a hard time committing more money to Chancellor when Wilson’s next contract — a much pricier deal than Chancellor’s next payraise — still hangs over their heads.
And part of the problem with Wilson’s contract is that the Seahawks have already had to commit money to other players.
In 2014, the Seahawks gave Richard Sherman a four-year, $US57 million extension that will pay him over $US12 million this season. They ponied up to re-sign Marshawn Lynch to a three-year, $US31 million deal this offseason, and they dealt for Jimmy Graham, who will make $US8 million this season.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks still have over $US7 million in dead money they owe Percy Harvin, and they’re working on an extension for impending free agent Bobby Wagner, who is only set to make $US1.3 million this season.
This has been the Seahawks’ biggest advantage in recent years. They have drafted extremely well and benefited from having talented players play on cheap rookie deals. When some of those players have been eligible for extensions, they have rewarded them — much like they did for Sherman in 2014 and Chancellor in 2013. In the process, they have had to make decisions on talented players they couldn’t afford to pay, like they did when they traded center Max Unger to the Saints for Graham.
The Seahawks are going to have to start making more of these decisions in the near future. As Grantland’s Bill Barnwell noted at the time of the Graham trade, with Graham and Lynch both on similar contracts over the next few years, they may have to move on from one of them just to free up room for other players.
In April, Seahawks GM John Schneider discussed Wilson’s contract negotiations on KIRO radio and showed the Seahawks’ pragmatic approach to free agency — they’re not going to overpay players:
“We have a track record of rewarding our players that we recognise as core players. Every negotiation is unique in and of itself, and this is no different. He’s our quarterback. We’d love him to be our quarterback. But the thing is we need to keep as many of these guys together as we possibly can.
“We have to be able to protect ourselves as we go and make smart decisions in trying to keep this whole thing together as long as we possibly can.”
The Seahawks, of course, can keep Wilson on one-year, franchise-tag contracts — though they’re pricey, too — but that seemingly wouldn’t be a great bargaining chip for ironing out a long-term deal with Wilson down the line. They would presumably like to lock him up long term as soon as possible, but they also aren’t going to pay him a price they’re uncomfortable with.
The Seahawks have assembled a championship-level core and have done so smartly, but they can’t pay each player what he wants. The business side of the NFL is the awkward reality for teams and players, and in the coming years, the Seahawks will have to decide who to reward and who to move on from.
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