The Seahawks strong safety said he was welcomed with open arms by his teammates. "It was like I was never gone,’’ he said. “It was like we never missed a beat with each other.’’
RENTON — Shortly after 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, the horn blew at the VMAC and Kam Chancellor returned to his usual spot at front of the line as the defensive backs began their drills for practice.
A few hours earlier, Chancellor had arrived at the team’s training facility, officially putting an end to an often head-scratching 54-day holdout.
“I think it was that time,” Chancellor said as he met the media shortly before practice. “I talked to a few guys, got some great words from people. I just feel like the time is now. I’ve always been a guy who follows my heart. Just watching my teammates and my team play, week to week, that first and second game, watching those losses hurt me, being the leader that I am. So I think the time is now to come back, put all business to the side and address that after the season, just get back to work.”
Chancellor held out hoping the team would renegotiate a contract he signed in April 2013 that takes him through the 2017 season.
Sources, though, said the team held firm to its stance of not renegotiating with Chancellor and that Chancellor ended his holdout without getting any specific promises of anything. One source said the two sides had not talked for several weeks until Chancellor began informing team officials and teammates Wednesday morning that he was back in Seattle and would report.
Chancellor said he made the decision to end his holdout Tuesday and flew to Seattle Tuesday night.
“I prayed on it all (Tuesday) night,” he said. “It just felt right. It felt right in my heart. Usually when I’m doing something right, my heart trembles. It doesn’t feel right. But everything felt perfect.”
During his holdout Chancellor also racked up fines of more than $2 million, including missing game checks of $267,647 for sitting out the team’s first two games.
Sources have said the team could waive some of the fines, though coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks will not release particulars.
Chancellor, asked if he had gotten assurances that the team will talk to him about a new deal after the season, appeared to confirm that the two sides have yet to agree to any specifics saying “that’s something we’ll discuss.”
Chancellor, though, mostly evaded particulars of why he held out and what happens now.
“Right now this is about coming back and playing football,’’ Chancellor said. “That’s where my main focal point is.”
Carroll, while also evading any specific talks of contract, said the holdout had not changed the Seahawks’ long-term plans regarding Chancellor. The team can claim something of a victory in having held firm in not negotiating a new deal for Chancellor, who has three years remaining on its contract — the team has held to a stance of not redoing deals that have more than a year remaining. Carroll, though, indicated that the almost two-months-long impasse did not harm the relationship between the two sides and that the hope remains that Chancellor will stay with the team far into the future.
“Kam’s going to be with us for a long time,’’ Carroll said. “We hope he will always be a Seahawk and that’s all we’ve ever thought of it and nothing’s ever changed in that.”
The team received a two-week exemption to add Chancellor to the roster so that he can begin practicing immediately. The Seahawks will have to make a move to add Chancellor to the active 53-man roster by Saturday to make him eligible to play Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Carroll indicated that will happen, saying “my thought is that we’re going to go with the approach that he will play.”
Chancellor was more emphatic, saying “I know I can play Sunday.”
Chancellor worked out twice daily while away from the Seahawks and Carroll reported that he weighed in at 226 pounds with six percent body fat.
“He’s in magnificent shape,” Carroll said.
Teammates likewise said they expected him to play.
“I don’t see why he wouldn’t,” said defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who then joked that “I’m pretty sure (team owner) Paul (Allen) wants him to play.”
Indeed it was a day of good feelings at the VMAC for a Seahawks’ team starving for some positive news after an 0-2 start. Chancellor said he watched the two losses and that “it was very hard because, not taking away from anybody else, but I knew I could make a difference, so it was very hard. I’m just here now to move forward.”
Chancellor said talks with teammates helped him return, as did a conversation with former NFL star Ray Lewis, who had said in a recent interview that he could never have held out and “leave my brothers in battle.”
Said Chancellor of conversations with teammates: “Just hearing them talk all the time, how much they miss me and vice versa, I think those things kind of spurred me into coming back.”
While some wondered if Seahawks players had begun to turn on Chancellor as the holdout lingered, there was no evidence of hard feelings Wednesday. Chancellor said he was welcomed back with open arms and that “it was like I was never gone, like I never missed a beat, like we never missed a beat with each other.”
In a comment typical of the locker room, linebacker K.J. Wright dismissed the idea that there was any resentment that needs to be smoothed out. “I don’t know why people keep saying that,” Wright said. “There’s no tension.”
Wright, though, also allowed that there was a different feeling in the locker room Wednesday with Chancellor back.
“I just feel some energy in the building,” he said. “It just feels like we have some life to us. He’s here now and we’ll go get this thing rolling.”
Specifically, Chancellor had been said to want $4 million of his 2017 salary moved to 2016.
His contract, signed in April 2013, increases to base salaries of $5.1 million in 2016 and $6.8 million in 2017. Chancellor had been thought concerned in part that the team could release him before his larger salaries for 2016 and 2017,which also come with bigger salary-cap charges, kick in. Chancellor missed two games last year because of a groin injury and suffered a knee injury on the Friday before the Super Bowl. Chancellor played through that injury as the Seahawks lost to the Patriots.
“It was a thought of mine when it first came about and we were going over business,” he said. “But like I said, my teammates, the organization, it just means a little more to me.”