Calling him “one of the most intimidating players in the NFL,” general manager John Schneider rewarded safety Kam Chancellor, one of the Seahawks’ core of young players, with a contract through 2017 for $28 million, including $17 million guaranteed. The move is the latest in a string of personnel moves designed to sustain Seahawks contention for years.
“He stands for exactly what we support and reward,” said coach Pete Carroll. “We want to make statements about guys we love. He’s a physical guy who stands for toughness. That fits right in.”
The ferocity from a 6-foot-3, 232-pound safety from Virginia Tech has resulted in several fines for illegal hits, which Chancellor, 25, said he can cover more easily.
“Yeah, I can put a little pot to the side now,” he said, laughing during press conference at Seahawks headquarters. “I feel good right now. They told me at end of last season that they would take care of me, because I was a core guy. I feel like I’m good spot.
“I think I deserved this moment. It wasn’t given to me — I worked for it. People said I couldn’t play safety in this league, as a fifth-round draft choice. I knew I could be a game-changer.”
Taken with the 133rd pick in the 2010 draft, Chancellor started 31 games the past two seasons and has 185 tackles (142 solo), four interceptions and 18 passes defensed.
Chancellor played in the Pro Bowl after the 2011 season after being named a first alternate. He had career-highs in tackles (94), interceptions (4) and passes defensed (13). Last season he started all 16 games and was named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl, after finishing third in tackles with 91 (69 solo).
Schneider said getting Chancellor’s contract extended — he would have been a free agent after the 2013 season — was the top off-season priority.
“Anything that happened in free agency, other than signing Kam, was an absolute bonus,” he said. “Last year our priority was (running back) Marshawn (Lynch). This year was Kam.
“Our goal has been to build through the draft and supplement with free agency. We want to draft players we can put on the field at a young age and have players (like Chancellor) who develop into starters.”
The money for Chancellor developed when the Seahawks traded backup quarterback Matt Flynn to Oakland for draft picks April 2. Flynn’s contract called for a base salary of $5.25 million. With second-year QB Russell Wilson a fixture and making less than $1 million, the Seahawks figured they could find a decent backup in free agency and put the money to better use in locking up Chancellor. The Seahawks signed five-year veteran Brady Quinn to back up Wilson.
The Seahawks wanted the Chancellor deal done by the start of the draft Thursday. Next in line among the premier young players are OT Russell Okung, S Earl Thomas, CB Richard Sherman and WR Golden Tate. Last year the Seahawks locked up Lynch, DE Red Bryant, DE Chris Clemons, DT Brandon Mebane and C Max Unger.
Besides the big trade with Minnesota for WR Percy Harvin, the Seahawks signed in free agency pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett and CB Antoine Winfield.
“We’re making a big deal out of this day — we’re taking away his chance at unrestricted free agency,” said Schneider. “Kam hasn’t had something like this.”