Seahawks GM John Schneider said at the NFL combine Wednesday the team has had no discussions with free agent-to-be Earl Thomas and that Kam Chancellor will likely not be on the roster next season.
INDIANAPOLIS — Everything has been sadly pointing to this day — the official end of the original Legion of Boom — for what has seemed an excruciating amount of time.
Still, hearing it all from Seahawks general manager John Schneider on Wednesday at the NFL combine — that Kam Chancellor will at some point over the next few months be removed from the roster and that Earl Thomas will officially enter free agency — still dealt a jarring jolt of harsh reality.
Maybe, at least some Seahawks fans were surely hoping, there was still a chance that something could get worked out with Thomas before free agency — and while Schneider seemed to hold out hope Thomas would still consider signing with Seattle, no one else seems to think that will be an option.
And if it’s been obvious almost since he suffered a neck/nerve injury Nov. 9, 2017, at Arizona that Chancellor’s playing days were over, you could at least look at the sidelines last season and see him during games, and sometimes at practices, still at least a Seahawk in name — he still had a locker all last season, just a few stalls down from that of Thomas.
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But that won’t be the case when the Seahawks open the 2019 season, their roster devoid of any member of what is one of the most iconic NFL position groupings in history for the first since the 2009 season.
Chancellor is still on the team’s roster, $5.2 million in his contract for 2019 which was guaranteed due to injury becoming officially guaranteed earlier this month (he had a $6.8 million injury guarantee, and the combination of those guarantees and how it impacted the salary cap meant the Seahawks basically had to carry him on the roster through the 2018 season).
But Schneider, in making what were his first comments to the media since last year’s NFL draft, said Wednesday that Chancellor will at some point over the next few months be removed from the roster. If Chancellor is cut after June 1, the Seahawks will save $4.8 million against the salary cap in 2019 and $12 million in 2020, per OvertheCap.com.
Schneider wouldn’t say exactly when Chancellor will be removed from the roster, but when asked if he would be on the roster when the 2019 season begins, he said, “No, probably not. But he knows. It’s not a shock. He knows what’s going on. This is really a formality from our salary-cap position.’’
Chancellor himself tweeted last July 1 that his playing days were over, then expanded in an interview on the team’s pregame radio show in September that he was suffering from spinal stenosis.
As for what comes next for Chancellor, Schneider said he didn’t know.
“I think he’s just trying to figure out what he is trying to do,’’ Schneider said.
Chancellor served as a valuable mentor to the team’s younger defensive backs last season, but being under contract with the team meant the team could require him to be around. Once cut loose, though, Chancellor will be free to do whatever. Schneider said that for now, he wasn’t sure being a coach was an option for Chancellor.
Thomas is likewise trying to figure out what to do as he becomes a free agent for the first time in his career. Like Chancellor, he became a Seahawk in 2010, part of the team’s storied first draft class under Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
Thomas held out last training camp in hopes of an extension from Seattle, one that never came. Now, with his contract officially running out March 13, when the new league year begins, Thomas can sign with whatever team he wants.
Asked if the Seahawks have had any recent communication with Thomas, Schneider said a simple “no.’’
Asked a follow up if he was disappointed in how the relationship with Thomas developed over the past year, Schneider said no.
“I understood his frustration,’’ Schneider said. “It’s business. He’s a free agent and he’s going to test free agency, so we’ll see what happens. We have a good relationship with his agents and stuff. He’s going to be one of those dudes that’s up on the Ring of Honor.”
If “so we’ll see what happens’’ seemed to leave the door open that he could still be a Seahawk, though, everything else points against it.
The third famed member of the LOB — cornerback Richard Sherman — told San Francisco reporters here that he is trying to recruit Thomas to join him with the 49ers, but that if Dallas matches that offer, Thomas would go to the Cowboys. Thomas has made clear he’d like to play for Dallas at some point in his career.
“If the money’s equal, if all things are equal, he’s going to Dallas,” Sherman was quoted as saying by The Sacramento Bee. “Now if that (compensation is) not the same, there’s more of a discussion, more of a fight. But then it becomes a bidding war.”
Sherman said he thinks the 49ers have serious interest in Thomas, who could fill a glaring weakness at safety in the team’s secondary — and allow Thomas, like Sherman, two chances a year to try to get some revenge on Seattle.
Assuming the 49ers brass is listening to Sherman and wants Thomas, they have the resources to win the battle. San Francisco is listed as having $69 million in effective cap space for the 2019 season via OvertheCap.com (Seattle has $50 million, Dallas $49 million).
But “if Dallas is a player in it, I’m not going to lie, he’s going to go to Dallas. That’s his home. If the money is equal, if all things are equal, he’s going to Dallas,’’ Sherman said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Thomas, then, may have to figure out whether to follow his heart to Dallas or his bank account somewhere else.
What’s clear is that neither resides in Seattle, the LOB becoming history but never to be forgotten.