Lots of Kam Chancellor-related talk in our latest mailbag.
I got enough questions about Kam Chancellor and his future — in the wake of his announcement last week that he will no longer be able to play, and how it relates to the Seahawks — to fill up an entire mailbag. So here we go.
A: Officially, as in named to an actual position on the coaching staff such as assistant defensive backs coach or something? Not this year unless for some reason Chancellor truly retires or the team comes to a settlement with him and he is no longer on the roster.
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But recall that Chancellor almost will certainly remain on the roster this year because the Seahawks have to pay him $6.8 million in an injury guarantee and another $5.2 million next year. Chancellor doesn’t get that if he retires. And he can’t officially become a coach if he’s a player.
But assuming Chancellor indeed remains on the roster but not playing (he’ll likely go on the Physically Unable to Perform list), the team could ask Chancellor to do a few things to help out. But it wouldn’t be anything to the extent of what an actual assistant coach does.
Chancellor has been often praised for how he has helped younger players with the Seahawks even during his holdout in 2015 when his replacement — Dion Bailey — said Chancellor would offer daily advice.
But Chancellor has been more removed from the team so far this year as he deals with the knowledge that his neck issues mean his career is likely over. Chancellor was not around for any of the team’s offseason program and as his Instagram and Twitter have shown, he’s been doing a lot of traveling and pursuing some non-football interests. He has always had a really strong interest in conditioning and fashion, and might go down those routes in his post-playinig career.
I’d imagine some ask this wondering if there’s a way around Seattle’s cap issues with Chancellor — specifically, the team owes him $12 million in injury guarantees in 2018 and 2019. But again, the expectation is Chancellor remains on the roster officially as a player (and the NFL wouldn’t allow any attempt to get around the cap in some way).
It’s also worth noting that coaching might be a lot harder and involve a lot more areas than those on the outside might think. Coaches work pretty much every day during the season, often from before the sun rises to long after it sets. While many players do enter coaching afterward, certainly a lot more do not for that reason alone. Former Seahawk Lofa Tatupu coached with the Seahawks for two seasons before leaving in part because he wanted to spend more time with his family.
And in Chancellor’s case, he’s made more than enough money to not have to take a job just to take a job.
You never know for sure what’s going on behind the scenes, but at the moment I haven’t gotten the sense things are going down that road just yet.
A: As noted above, Chancellor has not officially retired, so at the moment there is no change to Seattle’s salary cap situation.
I laid out what the scenarios could be in a story last week, so at the risk of repeating all that in this answer here’s a link.
But the upshot remains that no one expects Chancellor to retire and walk away from all that money. So for now, there doesn’t figure to be any change to Seattle’s salary cap situation coming anytime soon.
A: The Seahawks are always willing to explore all options — as the signing in May of Brandon Marshall illustrated anew — so I wouldn’t rule out that they’d look at Reid or some of the other safeties who are still available, such as Kenny Vaccaro or Tre Boston, if the need arises.
But one thing that might be somewhat overlooked is that Chancellor’s announcement was not news to the team. The Seahawks have been operating for months on the assumption that Chancellor will not be able to play in 2018 or beyond, which is why they made the moves they did to re-sign Bradley McDougald and sign Maurice Alexander to solidify the safety position. Combined with Earl Thomas, that’s three players with significant starting experience at safety, with McDougald able to play both free and strong. Seattle also has 2017 draft choices Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson on the roster, and for now, the thought is that these five could go on the 53-man roster to start the season: Hill and Alexander as strong safeties, Thomas and Thompson as free safeties and McDougald able to play either.
One big wild card, though, is the fate of Thomas. If he really holds out and the team thinks he’ll miss games — or if he’s traded — then Seattle might be on the market for another safety. Alexander also is coming off shoulder surgery and did not take part in OTAs or minicamp, and while the team has said he should be ready for training camp, if he had a setback, Seattle might also look more closely at adding someone. Seattle also would undoubtedly like some reassurance in camp that Hill and Thompson can do the job, if needed.
So I certainly think Seattle could make an addition to the safety position before the season begins. But I don’t think Chancellor’s announcement adds any urgency that wasn’t already there because the team has for awhile now been assuming he would not be available this season.
A: What is always the only real answer to a question like this is “We’re going to find out.”
Certainly, the Seahawks have had massive personnel changes this offseason, losing Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, and with the possibility that Thomas might also have played his last game for Seattle.
That’s a lot of leadership. Maybe more crucially, that’s an awful lot of really good talent. And separating those two is always difficult — is it the talent that’s more important or the intangibles? I’d argue it’s talent. Other players tend to listen most to those whose ability they respect greatly.
The good news is that Seattle will return two strong, veteran leaders in linebackers Bobby Wagner — who has been voted a defensive team captain by teammates in two of the past three years — and K.J. Wright. And the team is hoping some of the young players such as Shaquill Griffin, Frank Clark and Jarran Reed will step into those roles the same way Chancellor, Thomas, Sherman and others began to in 2011 and 2012.