Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the stalling of Seattle safety Kam Chancellor.
Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor’s holdout shows no end in sight, with both sides sticking to their positions.
The holdout elicits daily questions from readers about its origin, context and what may happen. So here’s our attempt to answer some of the more frequently asked questions:
Question: Why is Chancellor holding out?
Answer: As is always the case in these things, the answer is one word — money. Chancellor signed a four-year extension in April 2013 worth $28 million, carrying him through the 2017 season (here are the full details on his contract).
What appears to be one of the main sticking points for Chancellor is that he has earned all of the guaranteed money in his contract (or would if he plays this season) and that his cap number rises markedly the next two years (to $6.1 million in 2016 and $8.1 million in 2017). The amount of cap hit the Seahawks would take for cutting him decreases (to $2 million in 2016 and $1 million in 2017). In essence, the team could fairly easily release him after this season if it desired, something the Seahawks have done with players such as Red Bryant and Chris Clemons.
Chancellor, according to various reports, would at least like the team to guarantee some of his future base salaries, apparently as a hedge against being released and to give him security beyond this season. Now 27, Chancellor missed two games last season because of a groin injury and also suffered a knee injury before the Super Bowl that he played through.
Q: Why won’t the Seahawks redo Chancellor’s contract?:
A: The Seahawks have a policy of not redoing contracts that have more than a year remaining, and they don’t want to set a precedent by doing something to Chancellor’s deal. Other players then could ask for something similar. This was at the heart of running back Marshawn Lynch’s holdout from training camp last year. Lynch missed eight days before returning. Lynch came back after agreeing to take a deal in which an additional $1.5 million already in his contract was guaranteed (details here). However, that offer reportedly already had been on the table before his holdout, so the team does not view that as something gained by holding out. One problem with Chancellor’s situation is his contract does not include bonuses that could easily be turned into guarantees.
Q: What can the team fine Chancellor for holding out?
A: The NFL’s collective-bargaining agreement allows teams to fine players up to $30,000 per day for holding out. Teams can recoup up to 25 percent of a player’s pro-rated signing bonus. Chancellor’s bonus was $1 million, so the team can recoup $250,000 now. According to Jason Fitzgerald of OvertheCap.com, if Chancellor holds out the first week of the regular season, that would trigger another 25 percent forfeiture. From that point no more forfeiture occurs until Week 5, at which point he forfeits an equal amount each week. If Chancellor misses regular-season games, he then could be fined one-seventeenth of his base salary each week (roughly $267,000 because he makes $4.55 million this season).
Q: What are the salary-cap ramifications if Chancellor holds out into the regular season for the team and himself?
A: Again, from Fitzgerald: “Because he is on the DNR (did not report) list his base salary shouldn’t count on the cap until he reports. Once he reports his cap charge will reflect whatever is owed for the balance of the year rather than his $4.55 million salary. So if he misses six weeks his cap charge would only count $2.94 million of his base salary rather than the $4.55 million. So those savings are realized this season.”
If Chancellor does not report by Week 10, then this season would not count toward him accruing free agency. However, Fitzgerald said that’s probably not a real motivating factor for Chancellor, adding, “The accrued season really isn’t a big deal since he already earned enough to qualify for free agency when his contract expires again in the future.’’ However, if Chancellor doesn’t play this season, he would still remain under contract for the Seahawks for three more years, or through the 2018 season.
Q: Are there any recent examples of players holding out deep into training camp and returning?
A: Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew held out for 38 days in 2012 before coming back and playing the season (details here).
Q: Have any Seahawks ever held out like this?
A: The most recent time a Seahawks player missed games due to a holdout came in 2002 when left tackle Walter Jones sat out the first two games (details here). Jones also held out in the 2003 and 2004 training camps but did not miss games. Probably the nastiest holdout in Seahawks history came in 1999 when receiver Joey Galloway missed the first eight games. As detailed here, Galloway returned without getting a new deal so he could get the accrued year and was then traded to Dallas the following offseason.
Q: Have any NFL players sat out an entire season?
A: The most recent time an NFL player sat out an entire season came in 1997, with Sean Gilbert of Washington (detailed here). John Riggins famously also held out the 1980 season, returning to Washington to help lead the team to a Super Bowl win two years later. And in a moment somewhat lost now to NFL history, two members of the Chicago Bears defense that won the Super Bowl in 1985 — cornerback Todd Bell and defensive lineman Al Harris — sat out the season. Despite Bell and Harris, that Chicago defense went on to be acclaimed as one of the best in NFL history.