While Kam Chancellor is technically under contract until 2020 the structure of the deal hardly guarantees he will play with the Seahawks that long.
There was unquestionably meaning in the words of Kam Chancellor when he was asked after signing a contract extension with the Seahawks last week if he felt it meant he would finish his career in Seattle.
“I don’t know when my career will stop but this gives me another three, four years and who knows what happens after that,’’ Chancellor said. “Nobody can say what is going to happen in three or four years. But it does solidify three or four more years for me.’’
Chancellor wasn’t saying “three or four years’’ because maybe he had forgotten that it was a three-year extension he had signed tacked on to his current deal, which has one year left.
Instead, while Chancellor knows full well that three plus one equals four and his new contract theoretically binds him to Seattle through the 2020 season he also knows that the contract was written in a way that hardly guarantees he will be here that long.
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And as the details of the deal became available in the last few days it is indeed apparent that Chancellor seems guaranteed to be in Seattle two more years but that even as early as the 2019 season the Seahawks could get out of it and move on.
The basics of the contract are a three-year deal worth up to $36 million total with $25 million guaranteed that officially starts in 2018 (though the way it was written it also essentially rips up his 2017 deal lowering his cap number this year from $8.1 million to $6.8 million. But the upshot is that the contract takes him through 2020).
But while it was advertised as $25 million guaranteed, only $13 million was guaranteed at signing with the rest becoming fully guaranteed in later seasons.
And in what is the way NFL contracts are typically structured, the salary cap hits increase as the contract progresses while the dead cap number decreases, meaning the Seahawks have less of a penalty for cutting Chancellor as each year progresses.
Chancellor, for instance, counts for $9.8 million against the cap in 2018 (all numbers from OvertheCap.com) with a dead cap number of $7.5. That means the Seahawks would save only $2.3 million against the cap if for some reason they wanted to cut Chancellor in 2018 (a decision they would have to make quickly since his base salary that year of $6.8 million will become guaranteed “early’’ in 2018).
In 2019, though, Chancellor counts for $13 million against the cap with a dead cap number that decreases to $5 million, meaning the Seahawks would save $8 million against the cap if they wanted to release him. Again, though, that’s a decision they would have to make quickly as $5.2 million of his base salary of $10 million becomes guaranteed “early’’ in 2019.
Still, the cap savings are enough that if the Seahawks wanted to move on from Chancellor in 2019 — when he will be 31 — it could make some financial sense.
That’s even more the case in 2020, the final year of the deal, when Chancellor counts for $14.5 million against the cap with a dead cap number of just $2.5 million – a potential savings of $12 million against the cap — and hence Chancellor’s not-so-slip-of-the-tongue that his future is set for “three or four years.’’
I asked Jason Fitzgerald of OvertheCap.com if he thought Chancellor would actually play out his Seahawks contract.
“My guess is he won’t,’’ Fitzgerald said. “Looking how they structured it the final year’s salary jumps to $12 million after two years at $7.3 million and $10.5 million. His cap that year also spikes to $14.5 million, which is $1.5 million higher than the year before. I’d imagine his agent is thinking similar since they did get an offseason roster bonus in there I believe to make Seattle decide early on cutting him.’’
So give Chancellor at least two more years in Seattle and likely three. But then like Chancellor himself already has, understand that nothing is guaranteed after that.