As much as anything, the Seahawks’ success has been about keeping the right guys around. Kam Chancellor’s $36 million deal could be another great move.
Question the past few drafts if you want. They aren’t something an executive would lead his résumé with.
Complain about the recent offensive-line management if so inclined. It’s likely kept the Seahawks from being a true title contender.
But if there is one area in which Seattle general manager John Schneider has earned fans’ trust, it’s his track record of extending marquee players. This is one place where the man just doesn’t miss.
Tuesday, the Seahawks signed Kam Chancellor to a three-year, $36 million extension that runs through 2020. The deal will make Chancellor the third highest-paid safety in the league, which is rare for a strong safety.
It’s certainly fair to question the dollar figures given Kam’s injury history and the fact that he will be 30 in April. But when you consider the man who gave him that deal, perhaps it’s best to reserve judgment.
Generally speaking, there are two principal dice rolls every GM makes when evaluating players. The first is predicting how one’s production in college will transfer over to the NFL. The second? Predicting how one will react to money.
The sports world is littered with former stars whose production plunged once their bank accounts fattened. Just not so much with the Seahawks.
A quick rundown: Earl Thomas signed a 4-year $40 million extension before the 2014 season and has stayed on a Hall of Fame pace. Richard Sherman signed a 4-year, $56 million contract before the 2015 season and, despite his off-the-field histrionics, remained one of the top cornerbacks in football.
Defensive end Michael Bennett signed a 4-year, $28.5 million extension in 2014, made his first Pro Bowl in 2015, and his second the following year. Nine-year veteran Cliff Avril signed a 4-year, $28.5 million extension that kicked in in 2015, then made his first Pro Bowl in 2016.
Linebacker Bobby Wagner signed a 4-year, $43 million extension in 2015 and was a Defensive Player of the Year Candidate last year. And after signing a four-year, $87 million extension in 2016, quarterback Russell Wilson had the best season of his career, which included perhaps the best five-game stretch in NFL history.
For the past two seasons — especially last year — fans griped about the lack of capital allocated toward Seattle’s offensive line. Perhaps those gripes are justified, but at the same time, ask yourself: Which big signing would you want to take back?
Certainly not linebacker K.J. Wright, who inked a four-year, $27 million extension in 2014, earned his first Pro Bowl trip last season and became a Pro Football Focus star. And certainly not Doug Baldwin, who signed a four-year, $46 million extension months before amassing career highs in receptions and receiving yards last year.
If you want to quibble with the four-year $23 million extension the underperforming Jeremy Lane signed, you can — but the deal wasn’t that big, and the Seahawks can easily get out of it next year. And, sure, the Percy Harvin contract was disastrous, but he was never part of Seattle’s established core.
Regardless, Schneider’s success in this department has been Steph-Curry-at-the-foul-line precise. That should be recognized.
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Granted, this hot streak may end at any time. It wasn’t long ago that people thought the Seahawks were can’t-miss on draft day, too. Despite all good fortune with the extensions, the sample size is still relatively small.
Even so, you can’t dispute that the Seahawks are the only team in the NFC to have five straight 10-win seasons. They’ve won a playoff game every year since 2012, and are the favorites to finish atop their division once more.
Part of this is culture, part of this is drafting, and part of it is coaching, too. But as much as anything, it’s been about keeping the right guys around.
Most Seahawks fans reacted to Chancellor’s signing with glee, which is no surprise given his iconic status in this city. Salary-cap analysts, on the other hand, were a little more skeptical.
Not only did the extension top the norm for a quality strong safety, it set a precedent for enormous paydays for other aging members of the Legion of Boom.
So who knows? Maybe this will be problematic down the road. But that’s the risk with extensions like that. And with Schneider, those extension risks have almost always led to reward.