The extension should cause some comfort to the likes of teammates Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, who are next in line in the never-ending cycle of contract renewals. Wait your turn, and you shall be taken care of.
Two years ago, the Seahawks sent Kam Chancellor — and by extension, the rest of the squad — a message. It was one tinged with love and respect, as Pete Carroll indicated on Tuesday, but it was also distinct and unequivocal.
Namely, that no player, no matter how revered and valuable, would get special treatment when it came to contract renegotiation. Such a precedent, they believed, would simply lead to too much trouble down the road. Oh, they did some tweaking to get Marshawn Lynch an early installment of some money that was already guaranteed, but as far as tearing up an old deal and working out a new one, uh uh. The existing contract was sacrosanct.
And after 54 days of his holdout, during which time the Seahawks lost two crucial games, Chancellor yielded, came back to camp and played out his contract.
Fast forward to Tuesday, and the Seahawks sent another message that was also viewed with keen interest around the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. The three-year, $36 million contract extension agreed to by Chancellor — with $25 million in guaranteed money — was a blinking neon sign advertising that the proper reward would eventually come to those who earned it.
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That should cause some comfort to the likes of Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, who are next in line in the never-ending cycle of contract renewals. Wait your turn, and you shall be taken care of. Not every time, because the NFL can be a brutal business sometimes; but there are getting to be enough examples to lead to a consensus.
“The trust factor in everything they told me they were going to do, it happened. All the other guys, they see that,’’ Chancellor said.
If they’re looking close enough, the rest of the squad will also discern another message: That in the Seahawks’ culture, two sides can have a dispute over something as divisive as money, and still maintain not just a cordial relationship, but a mutually reverent one.
That example also could be timely for the Seahawks, who just spent an entire offseason fighting off the perception of dissension surrounding Sherman and his various disputes. Carroll’s counterpoint has always been that if you create the proper environment of freedom and nurturing, healthy disagreements will only serve to strengthen the bond.
“This is another illustration of how when you have deep relationships, sometimes you don’t see things eye to eye,’’ Carroll said of Chancellor’s new contract. “And sometimes you get going in a different direction because stuff doesn’t quite make sense. And we got there. But because of the depth of the relationship, because of the commitment to one another, the individual and for us as well, we worked our way through it and made sense of it.
“He’s been better for it, we’ve been better for it, even though it was a really hard thing. I’m really pleased to be able to tell you, that’s how it works. It is that way sometimes. When you really care about people, and they mean a lot to you, you’re able to work through anything, and we did.”
It will be interesting to see if the Seahawks let sentiment supersede common sense when it comes to committing major money to a player who logically will be entering his decline years in the meat of the new contract. After all, Chancellor is 29 — practically ancient for a strong safety whose calling card is his physical play. Asked how much of a premium the team put on the sense of menace Chancellor brings onto the field, Carroll countered:
“You might want to ask some people around the division. Ask the guys on the other side. There’s no question that his presence is obvious. He’s written a nice little introduction to his book about who he is and what he’s all about. It’s out there and everybody knows. He’s a fantastic player and a great physical presence. They know that.”
Sherman has noted in the past that Chancellor retreats into a “dark place” on the football field and has the capacity to “damage people’s souls.” It’s not something Chancellor denies.
“I can tell you it’s tunnel vision,’’ he said. “It’s not hearing anybody but the guys around you, and focusing on your opponent that’s across from you. It’s like tunnel vision. It’s a very dark, painful place. For them. I don’t really feel the pain until a couple days later, but I’ve got ways of recovering.
“It’s a dark, painful place. That’s the place that got me here. From my childhood, where I was raised, my neighborhood. The struggles I had to come up through. It just turned me into the guy I am now.”
The Seahawks believe it’s a gamble worth taking that Chancellor will defy the actuarial charts and remain productive into his 30s. They really didn’t have much choice, so valuable are the intangibles (and tangibles) that Chancellor brings to the team. Maybe they’ll pay a price down the road, but they would have paid a bigger price to let this contract issue hang over the team all year — or to lose Chancellor next year.
“He is so dedicated to the art of playing this game, and taking care of himself, that he’s going to play for a long time,’’ Carroll said. “As long as he’s capable and able, he will. I don’t know how long that will be, but he is so diligent about his work habits, his conditioning work, his nutrition work, he’s a leader in all those areas.
“He does everything he possibly can to be as fit as he can. That does give him the chance to prolong the career that other guys might not be able to take advantage of. It’s another great asset he brings to us.”
In the end, Chancellor’s assets far outweighed the risks for the Seahawks, who sent a message that reverberated far and wide.