Both Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor are unhappy with their contracts, but the Seattle Seahawks should give only Bennett a new deal.
Two players. Two Pro Bowlers. Two pillars of the Seahawks’ defense.
Two men who have made it clear they aren’t happy with their contracts.
Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor both think their level of play warrants more pay — and they’re probably right. But Seattle’s front office should only accommodate one.
And it’s not Chancellor.
That may sound brutal, but it’s true. That may seem like the kind of decision that would prompt a season’s worth of tension, but it’s necessary.
Bennett complained about a $28 million contract in a way that made mechanics, bus drivers and construction workers cringe. But do you know what else he did? He showed up for work.
It’s hardly a stretch to say this past season was a disappointment for the Seahawks. The team had top-tier talent but produced second-tier results.
Part of this was because they were climbing a Swiss Alps-like gradient from mid-September on. And if you don’t think Chancellor contributed to this, your blinders have become one with your face.
The strong safety’s holdout was the most ire-inducing Hawks story of the summer. Once a fan favorite, Kam became a near-universal source of hostility among the 12s.
That ill will increased exponentially when Seattle, which played its first two games of the season without Chancellor, started the year 0-2. The secondary’s biggest physical presence was suddenly defined by his absence.
This isn’t to suggest that Chancellor torpedoed the Seahawks’ season. In fact, there were two instances in which you could say he saved the Seahawks’ season.
The first came when he stripped Calvin Johnson on the 1-yard line to preserve a win against Detroit, and the second came when he stripped Adrian Peterson in the playoff win vs. Minnesota. Still, 2015 wasn’t the greatest year for Chancellor or the Legion of Boom, and it’s hard not to cite the holdout as one of the main reasons why.
Of course, Bennett would be the last person to complain about any of Chancellor’s antics. Bennett, remember, called out Hawks owner Paul Allen after Kam’s heroics vs. the Lions.
“Pay him! Pay him!” Bennett exclaimed to the “Monday Night Football” audience. “Paul Allen’s the 17th-richest man in the world. Pay him!”
Bennett had some self-interest in this demand. He signed his four-year, $28 million contract in 2014 — one year after Chancellor inked his four year deal — meaning if Chancellor’s contract was restructured, Bennett’s could be, too.
Having said that, blasting your owner on national television isn’t usually the best way to get a raise. You know what is, though? Doing what Bennett did on the field.
No. 72 was hands down the most disruptive player for the Seahawks’ defense this season. He led the team with 10 sacks, and his 18 tackles for a loss were fourth in the NFL.
He also was there for every day of training camp, every day of the preseason and played through a toe injury that he rated a 10 out of 10 on the pain scale.
So what if he left the Hawks’ PR staff with a permanent palm print on their foreheads? That’s what you get with Bennett. It’s not unique, either. From Charles Barkley to John McEnroe to Muhammad Ali — the sports world is replete with unfiltered personalities who were unstoppable between the lines.
Soon, the Seahawks are going to make some decisions, and all of them will have consequences.
The first is to do nothing for either player — although that may leave Bennett wondering why he should continue to play out of his mind if a career season can’t earn him extra dough.
The second is to restructure both contracts — although that would set a dangerous precedent as to how the organization responds to holdouts. If it appears that Chancellor’s strategy helped in any capacity, future Seahawks may be encouraged to take a similar route.
The third is to restructure Bennett’s contract but not Chancellor’s, which Kam would interpret at as a dinosaur-sized dis. But you know what? It’s the right call.
If the Seahawks can move some things around in Bennett’s deal to make him happy, they should. It would temper one of the team’s most valuable players and reward exceptional play. It might seem unfair to Chancellor, but this is a league of action, not talk. Chancellor stayed quiet and sat out the first two games of the season, while Bennett ran his mouth but came ready to play.
Contract situations are never black-and-white in the NFL, where players can be cut at any time. But when you consider how reliable Bennett has been on the field, he is the one the team should appease.
Two players. Two Pro Bowlers. Two guys who want more cash.
In this case, however, there’s only one way to go.