Earl Thomas is healthy (and newly married) while Kam Chancellor appears happily back in the fold after last year’s holdout. They are expected to serve once again as bookend Pro Bowl-caliber safeties in Seattle’s secondary.
With the Seahawks set to report for training camp July 29 (practices begin the next day), it’s time to look at the players I feel are most pivotal in 2016.
Call it “16 for ’16,” as we count down the 16 most important Seahawks in 2016, unveiling one new player each day until the team reports.
The countdown continues at No. 4 with Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, our last combo entry. They are two big-name players who are entering this season in a much better position than a year ago.
Players: Earl Thomas/Kam Chancellor.
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Position: Free safety and strong safety.
2016 contract status: Thomas is entering the second season of a four-year contract paying him $40 million total with $25.725 million guaranteed. Chancellor is entering the third year of a four-year $28 million extension that included $17 million guaranteed. Thomas has a base salary of $8 million this season while Chancellor’s is $5.1 million.
Expected 2016 roles: To serve for another season as bookend Pro Bowl-caliber safeties in Seattle’s secondary.
Why they’re ranked here: One reason for the optimism around the team is the improved situations Thomas and Chancellor carry into the 2016 season.
A year ago, Thomas was coming off the first significant injury of his career, a torn labrum in his shoulder that required offseason surgery. He sat out offseason drills, got a late start on training camp and didn’t play in the preseason, all of which meant a little kicking-off-the-rust time once he did get on the field.
Chancellor, meanwhile, held out all of camp and ultimately sat through the first two games of the season. Like Thomas, Chancellor also needed a while to get up to speed once he returned.
By the time what has become the best safety duo in Seahawks history was back to its old self, the team was in an uphill battle just to make the playoffs.
This year, Thomas is healthy (as well as newly married) while Chancellor appears happily back in the fold. (One reason? He’s still part of the team. It’s thought Chancellor had been worried that having received all of his guaranteed money by last season he might be susceptible to being a salary-cap casualty. Not only will he get his 2016 salary but he also remains among the top three highest-paid strong safeties in the NFL.)
With the cornerback spot also solidified with Jeremy Lane re-signed to join Richard Sherman, there’s a feeling around the team that the secondary could be as strong this year as it has been since the Super Bowl-winning season of 2013.
Sherman recently added to that perception by saying that he thinks the Legion of Boom is just now entering its prime.
During minicamp, Chancellor said he agreed with that assessment.
“Yeah, I think we’ve advanced together — took another step together as a unit,” he said. “Just pointing out the mistakes we’ve had in the past or faults we’ve had in the past, I think we’ve pointed them out and talked about them and found ways to fix them as a unit.”
Chancellor also agreed with the idea that the Seahawks’ secondary should be readier to hit the ground running this season with everyone healthy and happily in the fold.
“Just the camaraderie, knowing where everybody is on the field, just being able to communicate, understanding the communication together out there as a unit – I think that’s helping out a lot,” he said.
The Legion of Boom was hardly a weak link last season — the Seahawks again led the NFL in fewest points allowed for a record-tying fourth straight season while allowing the third-lowest opponent passing efficiency rating in the league at 78.1 (Carolina was first at 73.5, followed by Kansas City at 76.0).
But improved states of Chancellor and Thomas gives reason to expect the Seattle secondary could be in for an even better season.
“I think our depth this year is key,” Chancellor said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can go in other directions and start on other teams. So I think that’s what we’re getting back to, just having that depth and having those guys able to perform when they step in.”