BY Art Thiel 07:16PM 09/08/2015

Thiel: Chancellor takes a leap of the worst kind

Unless he comes in, tail tucked, this week, Kam Chancellor will do irreparable damage to himself, his teammates and the franchise. He’s the most foolish man in sports.

Kam Chancellor, your peeps are watching, and waiting. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

It pains to write this, knowing how well-regarded he is. But at the moment, Kam Chancellor is the most foolish person in sports. And that is saying something, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seeming to dominate the candidate list.

Tattered as is Goodell’s reputation following his embarrassing judicial rebuke in Deflategate, he hasn’t lost any personal wealth and probably will emerge with only dents and scratches.

As his nonsensical holdout passes into 40 days, Chancellor now runs the risk of not only losing millions, he could irreparably damage relationships with coaches and teammates. Until this week, players could express their emotional support for Chancellor as a principled stand for an individual’s true worth, with the slight hope that if he backs down the Seahawks, it potentially means leverage for them against the club in future negotiations.

But it’s game week, not training camp or exhibition season whose exercises an athletic talent like Chancellor can skip without significant harm.

This week counts.

No matter the brave words offered in support of Dion Bailey, the undrafted free agent from USC who is ticketed to start at strong safety Sunday in St. Louis, the Seahawks are much diminished by Chancellor’s absence. He’s the best in the game at what he does, adding menace that opponents often find sufficient to alter play-calling and players.

Bailey may someday emerge as another benchmark story in the Seahawks’ remarkable UDFA chronicles. But this week he’s a nervous rookie making his debut on the road in a dome against a division rival while trying to replace one of the NFL’s most ferocious competitors.

Bailey is, as the Seahawks like to say with a well-rehearsed shrug, the next man up.

I ran into Richard Sherman in the Seahawks locker room Monday, and asked him how the defense looked without Chancellor. He was stoic almost to the point of sounding irritated.

“It looks the way it always looks without him,” he said. “We play next man up. We played without him before. We play without him now. Same old.”

Well, not quite. Injuries are an accepted part of the game. Chancellor’s holdout is entirely voluntary, and that’s what will chap teammates. Back-to-back Super Bowls in this era was incredibly hard. Three in a row is unprecedented.

Particularly with a pointless action impeding the feat.

Regardless of where one’s sympathies lie, the Seahawks have no viable recourse to improve Chancellor’s contract in the second year of four-year deal, a deal that is hardly bad but no longer top-of-market. There is no NFL rule against a re-do, but there is large pressure on the Seahawks from the other 31 club managements to not give in, because buckling would put pressure on all team managements, not just the Seahawks.

Everyone closely connected to the business of the NFL is watching this drama.  They know that unless Chancellor shows up this week, there’s no decent way out for him. If the Seahawks lose Sunday, he will be partially blamed. If they win, Bailey will be seen as a viable replacement. Neither is exactly true, but whatever support Chancellor thought he may have had will vanish as feelings harden.

If Chancellor shows up after the first game without an improved deal, all parties will attempt to say everything is good. But it will be a lie. Damage will have been done.

How can GM John Schneider believe that Chancellor won’t create the same headaches in 2016? How can Chancellor provide his usual intensity when he feels so wronged?

If Chancellor continues to hold out, and the Seahawks decide to trade him, each game diminishes his trade value, further hurting the club. Because of the salary cap, there’s little chance a player of value can be had, because the acquiring team will have to work up a renewed contract for Chancellor better than what he has. Some significant player would likely have to be cut.

Which is why the trade compensation would most likely be draft choices, which do nothing for 2015. The Seahawks may be better off waiting until after 2015 to trade him, when his value for a full season of play will be higher.

A return after the first game could probably be made to work in some fashion, but the scrutiny of Chancellor’s play would be ruthless and wrenching. He dares not get hurt.

Coach Pete Carroll has worked up a plan to guide this team through the ashes of the worst loss in Super Bowl history to get back to where they were. The plan didn’t include one of his best players and leaders voluntarily going foolish.

“Next man up” is a good working mantra for any team, but this isn’t an injury or a retirement. The club already had to burn a 2016 fifth-round draft choice to acquire a backup safety, Kelcie McCray, to do the backup job from which Bailey inadvertently graduated.

Chancellor stunned the sports world last season when he leaped over the offensive line in an attempt to block a field goal. He’s about to stun it again with a leap off the NFL cliff.



  • MistarNeutral

    Sorry Kam, but he’s right.

    It’s not too late, stay home and be a part of the end of season celebration.

    • art thiel

      Confident of the celebration if they start 0-2?

      • bugzapper

        Maybe, if they were the ’04 Red Sox…

      • MistarNeutral

        Why of course! . . . better known as a definite maybe.

  • Tian Biao

    yep, it’s bad all right, and it’s gone on a really long time. Much as I like Chancellor, I’m with the Seahawks on this one. But I have a question: if he holds out, and starts missing games, does his $5 million salary still count against the cap? or can the team spend it on someone else?

    • 12thMan_Rising

      Every week he doesn’t report, the Seahawks get 1/17th of his salary refunded to their salary cap. That doesn’t help much this year, but they’ll roll it over into next season.

      • art thiel

        Correct. Thanks.

      • Tian Biao

        yes, thanks for the explanation.

  • 12thMan_Rising

    “Chancellor stunned the sports world last season when he leaped over the offensive line in an attempt to block a field goal. He’s about to stun it again with a leap off the NFL cliff.”

    Great stuff as always Art.

    • art thiel


  • Will

    Art, nice break down and summation.

    • art thiel


  • Joe_Fan

    Is Kam’s agent related to Kim Davis’s attorney? They both have advised their clients to take stands that make absolutely no sense.

    • art thiel

      Fair point, although Kam is merely breaking hearts, not laws.

  • jafabian

    If Kam isn’t back by Thursday IMO he’s not returning this week. And regardless if he returns or not he won’t be playing this weekend. If Sherman is getting tired of the questions regarding Kam’s absence that should be directed towards Kam for creating this situation.

    I used to think Kam will be traded if he misses any games but now I think they’ll let him just miss games and not be paid. Were they to trade him that would prove that you can force a trade by sitting out with the Seahawks. Different than with Percy Harvin who never said he wanted a raise in pay or be traded. Were Kam to be traded he’s not going to get any more money. He’s already the highest paid SS and he’s getting $7.5 million. He’s going to want anywhere from $8-$10 million and I’d be surprised if any team would be willing to pony up that amount at this point.

    • art thiel

      I think Kam might settle for guarantees, but that’s a guess. The Seahawks could let him sit for the year.

  • Jeff

    There’s not a lot to what Kam is doing that can be agreed with. For one, he’s the only player in the NFL holding out, depending on how you interpret what JPP is doing… Two, he’s holding out after 1 year of a 4 year contract, unprecedented, and making demands that none of the NFL’s other 31 teams would meet (sorry Josina), though maybe some would via trade. Three, if a team trades for and pays Kam, they inherit the precedent of paying a player with 3 years left on a deal that his new teammates will take note of. Four, his “headline” stats (tackles and picks) the two years before and two years after are remarkably similar. Yes, he’s a better player post deal, but nothing that screams it statistically, like say Antonio Brown, who showed up in a similar contract situation, and was slightly rewarded to help Steelers manage cap space, though not nearly to the degree Kam demands.

    Because of the rapid rise of the salary cap in the last two seasons, I would guess many players feel they deserve more money, but that’s how the system works. Next man up gets the biggest money, and keep playing at an elite level when you’re time is up for a deal again, then you cash in… I guess Kam could have demanded one year extensions at a time, then take advantage of salary cap increases, but he’d lose the security of multi year guarantees.

    • art thiel

      That’s the trade — less money, more security, one he gladly accepted upon signing. But I get that no guaranteed money after 2015 causes him to fear the Bryant/Clemens scenario. That’s his agent’s fault.

  • 1coolguy

    “The Seahawks may be better off waiting until after 2015 to trade him, when his value for a full season of play will be higher.”

    This is the option that I support the Hawks take. After the season, let Kam give them a thumbs up or down, then proceed accordingly.
    Very good column Art – Kam may take exception but no one else will.

    • art thiel

      Thanks. I try not to worry about popularity. Honesty is primary.

  • Subdepth

    Fantastic piece Art. Always bringing the truth, even if its uncomfortable and hurts some.

    • art thiel

      Glad to know there’s some audience for honesty.

      • John M

        I think your audience appreciates honesty always, Art. I always considered Kam among the classiest guys in sports, but he’s committing career suicide. Sad. He should give one of those ferocious body blocks to his agent and check to the next play . . .

        • art thiel

          I can’t imagine any agent originating this strategy. But they are paid to rep the athlete’s desires.

  • Ron Piotrowski

    Trade Chancellor. Yes, he’s an awesome safety but now he’s a cancer to the team. Get what you can – even draft picks – and let’s hope Bailey will be a valuable part of LOB 2.0.

    • Bayview Herb

      Trade him to a bottom feeder team. You get better draft choices, and teach him how it takes many good players to reach the Super Bowl.

    • art thiel

      If Seahawks get back to SB after trading Chancellor — feat of the NFL decade.

      • dingle

        I think getting there 3 years in a row, Chancellor or not, still qualifies. Especially with the current offensive line.

        • eYeDEF

          I agree, but it’s definitely a wee bit more challenging now with a completely raw rookie starting at Strong Safety. What used to be a strength of the defense is now a liability.

  • Javan Clark


    Great article. I am wondering however, what is Odell Beckham Jrs cap hit..? How about him and a 1?

    • art thiel

      As I wrote, player trades under the cap are difficult.

    • bugzapper

      Beckham is crazy good, but I don’t see the Giants letting him go.

    • eYeDEF

      No way do the Giants trade a budding superstar like OBJ in the 2nd year of his rookie contract.

  • canyudigit

    And to think I was this close )( from buying a # 31 Hawk Jersey. Come on Bam Bam, man up , do the right thing and get your butt back where it belongs!

    • art thiel

      I’d recommend a 12 jersey. Will always be in fashion.

      • bugzapper

        I’d recommend 24.It has way more options.

  • Bayview Herb

    It is hard for me to feel sorry for a guy that is making millions, but tears his contract up because he refuses to follow what he agreed to, two years ago.

    • art thiel

      No need to feel sorry for anyone here. It’s the entertainment business. They’re not attempting to walk from Syria to Germany.

      • bugzapper

        I think empathy was what Herb was going for, not sympathy. For Chancellor, I have neither. You signed, you took the money, now get off your dead ass and suit up, you self-important jerk!

  • Bill

    This is a great column–I’ve been waiting for this perspective to surface in the media. It really is mind boggling that is has gotten this far.

    I agree that he’s already starting to do damage to his reputation. Not “burning your jersey in the parking lot” damage, but headed in that direction. He crossed one threshold by not being there to be voted captain, giving up being the leader of one of the greatest defenses of all time!

    Kam needs to do a better job of getting his message out there, assuming he has one. He’s about to be the first person under the current CBA to hold out during the regular season and we’re all grasping at straws trying to figure out what it is he’s willing to lose real money over. He’s teetering on the edge of losing fan support and a lot of the players don’t sound thrilled either.

    • art thiel

      He started with no exit strategy, and hasn’t found one since. A shame.

  • Mike Yarbrough

    I love Kam Chancellor man! But right now, I am irritated with him. It’s not right! He has a good, solid contract and a team that has done right by him, NEEDS him! What a selfish bastard!

    • art thiel

      I have empathy for every NFL player attempting to get as much as possible in the the narrow career window. He thought he had done so with the extension. He could have gotten more guaranteed money into 2016-17 but at a much lower total value. All conscious choices.

      The holdout was foolish act. But I’m not a fan of name-calling.

      • Mike Yarbrough

        I don’t care what you are a fan of or not! And…NO, it is GREED!

  • Montana Mike

    Great column Art. I know I’m getting old but this new generation has me befuddled. Doesn’t it make more sense, if your not satisfied with your contract, to get rid of the guy who negotiated that contract instead of following him over “the NFL cliff” and destroying your relationships and reputation? I just don’t get it!

    • art thiel

      It’s not a new generation thing. There were many more holdouts in the 1980s and 1990s before the new CBA in 2011. Remember Walter Jones? Remember Joey Galloway?

      • bugzapper

        What was the pay scale in those days? And how many Super Bowls did Jones and Galloway play in with the Hawks?

        • eYeDEF

          The pay scale was comparable when you adjust for inflation. The difference was each was looking for their first big payday after their rookie contract. Kam signed a 5 year extension that he’s only played 2 years on and is reneging.

  • Jay Swillie

    Fans will be fanatic and players will play. Kam stay at home until your bank account reflects your talents. You will hit just as hard next season if not harder with all the rest! How soon we forget how he pumps fear into an offense. He’s not asking for something he doesn’t deserve! Which all the 12′s including myself will find out during this long NFL season given they don’t write that man a check! I’m sure he’ll take cash too…..

    • art thiel

      It’s not a matter of deserving vs. not deserving. It’s a matter of club policy based on giving the franchise the greatest chance for success over the greatest amount of time.

  • notaboomer

    kam should go all chris borland to prove the stupidity of the sport.

    • art thiel

      If Kam had a Stanford education and a middle-class background, I’d agree he might not need the money.

      • notaboomer

        he’s already got enough money to live well for the rest of his life, education or not.

        • bugzapper

          Amen. Just ask a teacher or the guy mowing your lawn.

  • Bo Crouch

    The only way this really makes sense in my mind is if he has some lingering effects from his injury and he is trying to get the guaranteed money because he knows he may not have many full seasons ahead. Based on the way he hits it could definitely be a thing. If this is true then here is hoping Bailey is a stud.

    • art thiel

      Doubtful he would lose respect and millions of dollars to protect an injury. But there is potentially a larger point about health — he may want to get as much as he can as soon as he can because he privately dreads what many players dread — brain damage.

  • Gerald Turner

    This is getting surreal, who’s his agent David Lynch?

  • whoKarez

    I wish Kam would read this article and get his bum in gear.