Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor’s holdout a long shot to pay off

Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor is costing himself with a holdout that seems to have very little chance of success.

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Kam Chancellor remains away from the Seattle Seahawks and has now basically pulled himself from the lineup, presumably because he’s upset players like Earl Thomas, Devin McCourty, Jairus Byrd and a few others are making more than him.

Only one problem: They don’t play the same position as Chancellor.

A little more than two years removed from a contract extension that pays him an average of $7,000,502 per year, the Seahawks strong safety has made good on his vow to take his holdout into the regular season. Chancellor didn’t show up for practice on Wednesday, which led coach Pete Carroll to declare the three-time Pro Bowl selection will not play in Sunday’s regular-season opener against the St. Louis Rams.

The key word in that last paragraph? "Strong."

Much as Chancellor and his agent Alvin Keels — the same agent who in 2013 negotiated the four-year extension for Chancellor that is now only 25-percent complete — privately are making the case he should be paid in line with the $9 million-plus Byrd, McCourty and Thomas are getting, the fact is Chancellor still has the best deal of any NFL strong safety. The Miami Dolphins’ Reshad Jones is technically the highest-paid strong safety on a per-year basis by a margin of $2,500 over Chancellor, though Chancellor’s contract edged Jones’ deal in the key metrics of guaranteed money ($17 million for Chancellor to $15 million for Jones) and two-year payout ($16.1 million for Chancellor, $13.7 million for Jones).

There’d be little debate Chancellor is the best strong safety in the game. In many people’s opinion, he was the true MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, when he set the tone early against the Denver Broncos with a hit on Demaryius Thomas and clogged the middle of the field the rest of the way. 

Relative to his position, Chancellor has been paid like one of the best. Chancellor was originally due $1.323 million in 2013. Instead, he wound up getting $6.6 million that year and $4.83 million in 2014. So he basically received $10 million for the first year of his new deal.

Not too shabby at all.

But now Chancellor is looking at a payday of $4.65 million for this upcoming season and isn’t happy with that. But the fact is, that’s where the Seahawks played the leverage to their advantage.

If Chancellor wanted to max out his deal and blow the top off of the strong-safety market, he should have played out the 2013 season and pushed toward free agency. At that point, the franchise tag for safeties was $8.433 million. He could have used that as his starting point to negotiate a long-term deal with the Seahawks, assuming they tagged him.

But Chancellor faced the tough decision every player faces: Take the money now and get some security or roll the dice, hope to stay healthy and lock down a huge contract as a free agent. The fact he didn’t wait cost him some leverage and, by virtue, some money. Chancellor obviously doesn’t care he’s only one year into his four-year extension. He’s making a push for a revamped deal now.

Keels and the Seahawks have been in touch recently. A source said the sides spoke last week, though Seattle general manager John Schneider once again made clear what he’s been telling Keels all along: The team has no intention of negotiating a new deal. 

It’s hard to blame Schneider, who moved money around with Marshawn Lynch’s deal to end last year’s holdout, for not budging on this one. Imagine the line outside his door if he buckled.

Heck, defensive end Michael Bennett would probably be the first one there. He considered a holdout this year but ultimately decided against it, probably because he realized it’s a tough sell to ask for a new deal one year after signing the previous four-year contract.

Chancellor had no such conscience check. He’s dug in now. And even though teammates are trying to stand by him — Richard Sherman said the players "understand" but also admitted they’re "disappointed" because "you expect to have him" — Chancellor is on an island on this one.

At this point, he seems to be just costing himself game checks. And unless he buckles, there’s no telling how many he’ll wind up losing.