Two years ago nearly to the day, SS Kam Chancellor rocked the Seahawks’ world no less harshly than he rocks the world of crossing-route ballcatchers. His contract holdout that made no sense put the Seahawks in a place they rarely found themselves: No Plan B.
Coach Pete Carroll, who prides himself on preparing for most consequences, wasn’t ready for the inexplicable absence of Chancellor’s rare combo of calm leadership and ferocious play.
Despite knowing team policy was to never improve a contract with more than one year remaining, Chancellor held out through training camp, exhibition season and the first two games, both losses. Finally convinced of his holdout’s futility, Chancellor came back to the team, proud man humbled, with nothing to show for the risk he took.
A case could be made that the holdout was the most disruptive factor in the Seahawks’ 2015 season. With some teams, with many businesses, the breach would have been intolerable.
Fast forward to Tuesday, when Chancellor signed a three-year contract extension worth up to $36 million, a hefty $25 million guaranteed. It was a huge commitment and a fair amount of risk by the Seahawks for a guy who will be 32 at the end of the deal and a lot more banged up then than now.
But remarkably, there were said to be no hard feelings from the foolishness of 2015.
“I don’t think the relationship ever fell off,” Chancellor said. “What happened in the past was past. I put that behind me two years ago. We’re here today. Bygones be bygones.”
In explaining his delight over the deal, Carroll sounded like a marriage counselor.
“I think this is another illustration on how when you have deep relationships, sometimes you don’t see things eye-to-eye,” he said. “Sometimes you get going in different directions and stuff doesn’t quite make sense.
“But because of the depth of the relationship . . . we worked our way through it. He has been better for it, we have been better for it. It was a really hard thing. I’m really pleased to be able to tell you that’s how it works. It’s that way sometimes. When you really care about people and they mean a lot to you, you’re able to work through anything.”
Carroll and the Seahawks seem to get that Chancellor is a good player and good person, not a perfect one. That simple observation also may have guided them through the Richard Sherman tumult in most recent off-season.
That dispute was over behavior, not about money, but the strains on both sides were similar. By their own recent words, Sherman and Carroll seemed to have worked it out. Seasonal results will be the final arbiter, but nothing in the first days of training camp suggests that Sherman is less than fully engaged.
With Chancellor and Sherman on track, and FS Earl Thomas nearly back to full health from a broken leg, the Legion of Boom appears fully engaged for a sixth consecutive season.
“I told Earl this morning that he looks in better condition and faster than I’ve ever seen him since year one or two,” Carroll said. “The last three or four years, this is the best he’s ever been.”
The way the rosters churn in the NFL because of injuries and the salary cap, keeping a star unit together is a remarkable feat.
“I know that (continuity) is hard to come by in this league,” Chancellor said. “Guys playing for one another and the organization, trusting in our abilities to bring out the best. We demand the best out of each other. It’s great for us to play together this long.”
The way it has happened is because the Seahawks value the secondary above all else, spending $33 million this year alone on the Boom. Carroll has always believed that denial of the long pass is the first step in controlling a game. Testimony to the strategy’s success was that until the 38-10 loss in Green Bay in November, the Seahawks had not lost a game by more than 10 points in five seasons.
So yes, the player salary distribution among the Seahawks is lopsided. But it is for a reason: Chancellor, Thomas and Sherman can bend games Seattle’s way more than any other players on the roster.
And Chancellor, despite the 2015 holdout, holds an eminence among the Seahawks that is almost regal.
“This is a great kid, a great leader, a tough guy, a heart and soul guy,” Carroll said, pinning the needle on the gush meter. “He became a great football player and leader in our program. To be able to reward him like this is something special. I couldn’t be more pleased about it. It’s for all the right stuff.”
The last time we heard about guys with the right stuff, they reached the moon.
McDowell back in Seattle
Carroll confirmed that rookie DT Malik McDowell, injured in an ATV accident a couple of weeks ago, arrived in Seattle Tuesday from his hometown of Detroit, but had no update on his condition.
“We are really anxious to let everyone see him and really find out first hand” what happened, he said. “Everything (so far) has been through communications with the doctors at the other end. We will get to see him and try and figure out what it all means right now.”
The team disclosed the injury Sunday, but without providing details, left open the possibility of injuries sufficient to end his season, including a concussion. McDowell, 21, tweeted otherwise Sunday, saying the injuries were not season-ending.
The Seahawks’ first pick, taken in the second round from Michigan State with the 35th overall choicer, is being counted on for substantial minutes backing up inside and outside positions on the D-line.