The Seahawks made a pair of statements by signing Kam Chancellor to a three-year contract extension on Tuesday.
The signature Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor put on a new three-year contract extension Tuesday that keeps him with the team through the 2020 season also sent a couple of statements.
One, in the eyes of coach Pete Carroll, was to show the uniqueness of the Seahawks’ organization in how it deals with its players.
Chancellor’s deal came two years and one day to the afternoon when he began a holdout that would last two games into the regular season and cause some to wonder if he would ever play another game with the Seahawks, let alone someday sign a long-term extension.
But Carroll insisted on the day the holdout ended — with Chancellor getting nothing for returning — that there were no hard feelings, no resentments that would linger.
And to any who remained skeptical, Tuesday delivered the answer with Chancellor given a three-year deal worth $36 million with $25 million guarantee that makes him the third-highest paid safety in the NFL.
“This is another illustration of how when you have deep relationships, sometimes you don’t see things eye to eye,’’ Carroll said. “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.”
Chancellor agreed that the minute he walked back through the door, the relationship with the Seahawks alternately started anew and was the same as ever.
“What happened in the past was the past,’’ he said. “I put that behind me two years ago and I was ready to work and we are here today back to where we started. … let bygones be bygones and ready to play football.’’
Here’s another statement the contract made — the Seahawks still feel the future is now.
When the Seahawks drafted four defensive backs in the 2017 NFL draft — including two safeties — it was tempting to wonder if the team was beginning to prepare for a post-Legion of Boom future, talk that intensified when the Seahawks spent much of the offseason fielding trade offers for cornerback Richard Sherman.
But Carroll insisted Tuesday the drafting of the defensive backs last spring was simply what the team made sense and no sign that the Seahawks were ready to begin moving on.
The Chancellor signing, he said, should only reinforce that the Seahawks are going to ride as long as they can with the group that got them to two Super Bowls, winning one.
“I think it’s a continuation of the signals we’ve been sending for years,’’ Carroll said. “We’re committed to these guys, we’re committed to the core guys. They’ve been incredible in this program. This is just his opportunity and his turn. Hopefully, we’re not changing the way we think. This is a great indication of all of that.’’
Indeed, the Seahawks now have 10 defensive starters under contract through at least the 2018 season having now re-signed both Chancellor and defensive lineman Michael Bennett to significant extensions since last December.
Chancellor’s contract essentially matches the one Miami gave last spring to Reshad Jones, who received a four-year, $48 million deal with $33 million guaranteed, making each basically tied for making the most of any strong safety, a position that typically is paid a little less than free safeties (both are behind the $13 million of Kansas City’s Eric Berry and the $12.5 million of Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu.)
Jason Fitzgerald of the salary analytic web site OvertheCap.com said Tuesday he believes the contract “is far too expensive for a strong safety regardless of how good the player may be’’ while cautioning that until all the details are in — such as per-game roster bonuses — it’s hard to give a complete assessment.
But Fitzgerald agreed that if there was a statement made with the deal it is that the Seahawks remain committed to their core players.
“I will say that seeing that they went three years with him and also went three with Bennett, I think they are basically showing you what they believe is their window now with this current group,’’ he said. “I’d expect that they will be extending similar offers to Thomas and Sherman by the end of this season or next summer, and go with the idea that this group can be productive into their very early 30s.’’
Both Thomas and Sherman have two years remaining on their contracts meaning they figure to be in line for an extension a year from now — the Seahawks typically give new deals as a player is entering the final year of his contract.
Thomas, who signed a four-year deal worth $40 million in 2014, said Chancellor’s contract “just showed the loyalty they have to the core nucleus of us.’’ Thomas, though, acknowledged he was watching “very closely” to see how Chancellor’s situation would unfold.
“You want to see, because I feel like we’re all right around the same age, they’re bringing a lot of new guys in,” Thomas said. “If the writing is on the wall, I want to be able to see it, because I could be next. Like I’ve said, I’m very happy for Kam, and when that time comes, it comes.”
Chancellor likewise said he thinks the contract sent a signal to the likes of Thomas and Sherman. “The other guys see that and they are looking forward to their deals coming about in the near future,’’ he said.
Some observers had wondered how committed the Seahawks would want to be to Chancellor given that he has missed seven games due to injury the last two seasons. But he had surgery to remove bone spurs in both ankles shortly after the season and has said he feels better for this training camp than he has in years. And he hinted that the contract will also allow him to no longer have to worry about his health.
“I just appreciate the contract,’’ he said. “I appreciate what the organization has done for me. It (the contract) just allows me to just be free out there and get back to being the reckless Kam I am out there on the field.’’
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Carroll, meanwhile, said the contract means “we’ll get him for the rest of his career.’’
Those are words few would have envisioned Carroll speaking two years ago when Chancellor embarked on a holdout that stunned the team. Chancellor hadn’t told the team of his unhappiness until a few days prior, and few figured he had a realistic chance of getting a new deal at the time since he was still basically the highest-paid strong safety in the NFL.
But Monday, Chancellor had told reporters he wanted to retire as a Seahawk, admitting on Tuesday that when he spoke those words he had a good idea that the new contract was coming soon.
Told Carroll had said the contract means he can play for the Seahawks the rest of his career, Chancellor nodded.
“I do it view that way,’’ said Chancellor, who turns 30 next April. “I don’t know when my career will stop but this gives me another three, four years and who knows what happens after that. Nobody can say what is going to happen in three or four years. But it does solidify three or four more years for me.’’