BY Art Thiel 04:21PM 05/09/2019

Thiel: It’s officially over for Baldwin, Chancellor

Doug Baldwin failed his physical exam, as did Kam Chancellor. So the Seahawks released Thursday two of the greatest figures in their run to consecutive Super Bowls.

WR Doug Baldwin this off-season had hernia surgery, as well as operations on a knee and a shoulder . / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Two stalwarts of the Seahawks era at the NFL pinnacle officially became ex-Seahawks Thursday. WR Doug Baldwin, 30, and SS Kam Chancellor, 31, failed physical exams and were released. Chancellor’s cut was a formality after not playing last season following a neck injury; Baldwin’s multiple surgeries after his most injury-riddled season made him unable to return.

“The Seahawks have made the difficult decision to terminate/failed physical Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor,” general manager John Schneider said in a release. “These are two of the most iconic players in franchise history and both were instrumental in establishing our championship culture, great examples of competitiveness and leadership on the field and in the community.

“These legendary players will always be a part of our Seahawks family.”

The two were among the best examples of players who overcame a low regard in the draft and flourished in coach Pete Carroll’s plan that awarded playing time on the basis of competition instead of draft round, school pedigree or the club’s financial investment.

Chancellor was a fifth-rounder from Virginia Tech in the 2010 draft. A year later, Baldwin from Stanford, went unselected, and signed as a free agent with Seattle. Baldwin parlayed the disrespect into a remarkable rookie year in which he led the Seahawks in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

In 2015, Baldwin set the franchise record for touchdown catches in a season with 14. A year later, he matched the team record for receptions in a season with 94. A two-time Pro-Bowler in eight seasons, Baldwin’s 49 career receiving TDs are second in club history  to Hall of Famer Steve Largent, and his 493 catches and receiving 6,563 yards rank third behind Largent and Brian Blades.

After a rookie season as a backup, Chancellor became a starter in 2011 and, with FS Earl Thomas, formed one of the greatest safety tandems in NFL history. By 2017, Chancellor was voted No. 75 in NFL.com’s list of top 100 active players. But in November, not long after he received a third contract from the Seahawks, a three-year extension worth up to $36 million with $25 million guaranteed, Chancellor injured his neck against Arizona and never played again.

Via social media,  he announced his retirement July 1, later disclosing he had spinal stenosis and bone spurs in his neck.

Chancellor’s guarantee means the Seahawks will pay him $5.2 million in 2019 after paying $6.8 million in 2018. Had he chosen to retire instead of remaining on injured reserve, he potentially would have lost that money.

Baldwin had played two of the four years in his contract extension signed in 2016, but had no more money guaranteed. He was scheduled to make $9.25 million this year and $10.25 million in 2020. But by being cut instead of retiring, he didn’t have to return about $7 million in bonus money, according to the Seattle Times.

According to overthecap.com, Seattle will save over the next two years against the cap $6.8 million and $11 million on Baldwin, and for Chancellor, $2.3 million and $12 million.

After his best game of the season, seven catches for 126 yards in a 38-31 win over Kansas City, Baldwin, who had not missed a game since 2012, admitted his body was beaten down.

“This year has been absolutely hell,” he said. “I’ve been  . . . oh,my goodness. We don’t have enough time for that. It’s been hell. But I’m so grateful to be healthy enough to be on the field with my teammates to celebrate victories and just enjoying playing football again, just like a kid.”

Only three players remain in Seattle from the Seahawks’ most recent Super Bowl teams — QB Russell Wilson and LBs Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. That’s why players say the NFL acronym stands for Not For Long.


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YourThoughts

  • 1coolguy

    Let’s say Baldwin continues his rehab and tells JS in October he’s ready to go – is that a possibility, per NFL rules?
    Kam was SUCH a stud it is a shame to see such a fine player not able to retire on his own terms, instead via early injury. His hit of Thomas to start out the Denver SB is etched in my mind forever, including the crowd reaction! It may have been as foremost an example of a play setting the tone for an entire game there has ever been.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=kam+chancellor+hit+in+super+bowl&oq=kam+chancellor+hit+in+super+bowl&aqs=chrome..69i57.9169j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    • jafabian

      That really isn’t possible when he’s failed a physical. Considering how hurt he’s played the past two seasons and the number of surgeries he’s had retirement is the best move for Doug.

      • art thiel

        I’m eager to see what the non-football future holds for him.

        • StephenBody

          Going to be public service and he will be amazing at it. I would not rule out President Baldwin, one of these days. I’d vote for him.

          • art thiel

            His big question ahead of a run for office: Can I be myself, or will compromise drive me crazy?

          • StephenBody

            Oddly, I think his growing maturity is a great thing. Normally, I’d be lobbying for anger, directly expressed, but Doug is wiser than me. I think he’s plenty smart enough to practice compromise and still manage to win. It’s that first step, y’know? He’ll be past his detractors before they know what hit ’em.

        • jafabian

          Me too. Many players under Pete Carroll have been very civic minded. I hope they all find ways to give back to the community because they all have a lot of positive potential. If Baldwin doesn’t enter politics I predict he’ll serve in some public manner. But Congressman Baldwin does roll nicely off the tongue.

          • art thiel

            He will have many options, including becoming a private-sector investor who could build a big portfolio that will allow him to do philanthropy specific to his passions.

    • art thiel

      When a player fails a physical, it’s done for the player’s protection as much as the club’s liability. I suppose if a miracle procedure came on the market that made Baldwin 100 percent, he could petition for reinstatement. But no, don’t hold out any hope for that.

      Kam was indeed a delight to watch. The Broncos’ game plan was set up to avoid that kind of play. Then boom. Ballgame,

  • Husky73

    Both will be in the Ring of Honor. I’ll go out on a limb and say the Chancellor is the greatest Seahawks defender in franchise history, with Kenny Easley and Cortez Kennedy close behind.

    • art thiel

      I might give Easley a teensy edge. He was faster, even returning some punts. But we could drink a gallon of beer debating that.

  • tor5

    I’ve gotta cry a little bit, but there is something poignant about them going out together. Probably my two favorite Hawks ever!

    • art thiel

      There’s a claim of much dust in many manly eyes in these parts tonight.

  • StephenBody

    VERY sad day. I have as much affection and respset for these two men as I do for anybody, especially Doug. However good we all feel about the draft and the new additions, their absence is a gaping void, at least in terms of character and influence.

    • art thiel

      Well said. As rookies, these guys were good, but not yet the leaders and men they became. The high drama will be whether the new hires develop a similar stature.

  • coug73

    Football is a blood sport. Baldwin and Chancellor paid the price in flesh, blood and bone earning their currency. Good luck to both in future endeavors.

    • art thiel

      It is indeed a blood sport. The young guys will always say the sacrifice was worth it. The old guys too, except their brain and bodies tell a different story.

  • Steed

    I remember when Chancellor was a rookie, he use his helmet to hit a ball carrier, and ended up knocking himself out. After that, he learned to hit with his shoulder, and eventually delivered the greatest modern legal hit ever, the destruction of Vernon Davis. We all know that hit changed Vernon forever. His sternum still hurts when it rains, I guarantee you.

    In Wilsons rookie season, The Hawks played a super close low scoring game in Carolina. On one play, Wilson was about to get destroyed, and he somehow flung the ball down the sideline, where nobody could catch it. Except Doug Baldwin somehow got over there and caught it, stretched out, with a millimeter of each big toe still in bounds. Impossible catch. That was only the first of many of those.

    Baldwin did it again in the Superbowl season, during the home comeback win over Tampa Bay (one of those games in the SB winning season the defense failed to show up for in the first half, that people now forget about). Wilson was about to get killed, he flung it far down the sideline, and Baldwin somehow caught it, totally stretched out, with .01 millimeter of each toe in bounds! Amazing.

    • art thiel

      The Baldwin highlight reel is a compendium of gymnast as football player.