Two Key Players Still Not Happy With Their Deals
With the NFL free agency season fast approaching it’s worth stopping for just a moment and remembering a couple of Seattle Seahawks that aren’t happy with their current deals. The first one I’ll bring up is the Seahawks starting safety, Kam Chancellor, the man that held out the first part of the 2015 season for that very reason.
I think it’s fair to say that Chancellor’s hold out did damage the Seahawks 2015 season. How much it damaged the Seahawks season is debatable but I think everyone would conclude that on some level, his absence and subsequent return, didn’t do anything good for the team.
Chancellor’s hold out also didn’t do anything good for Chancellor’s wallet either. He had to absorb considerable fines and lost salary during his holdout. To make matters worse, the Seahawks management never relented and Kam wound up getting no changes to his current four year deal.
So, with the sting of essentially having lost the hold out battle with his bosses last year, would Chancellor dare press the issue again now that he’s down to two years to go on his existing deal?
I think it’s highly likely that he will if for no other reason because Chancellor knows that the Seahawks did appease Marshawn Lynch with a re-worked deal when he had two years remaining on his contract. That precedent might be just the missing piece of leverage Kam did not have when he tried his holdout tactic last year.
Other reasons Kam might want more money at this point would be that there are some players out there making more money than he is now. If you go by cap hit numbers and you limit your comparison to strong safety, there are four players with a bigger number for the 2016 season—Donte Whitner, ReShad Jones, Da’Norris Searcy, and Aaron Williams. If you look strictly at how much cash these players will receive this season, Chanellor moves up to 3rd highest behind only Jones and Whitner.
If you are playing GM, what do you do given this information? I think you have to ask yourself whether or not Kam Chancellor is the third best (or better) strong safety in the NFL right now before you can decide what to do. Let’s get back to that one in a minute.
The other player that is not thrilled with his current deal is defensive end Michael Bennett. Strangely enough, Bennett is in the same boat as Chancellor in that he has two years left on a four year contract. Unlike Chancellor, Bennett voiced his displeasure with his deal but still showed up to work in 2015.
The other thing that separates Bennett from Chancellor is that Bennett had arguably his best season ever during 2015. Kam missed games due to injury, hold out, and even when he was healthy and playing, did not have his best year in terms of production.
Looking at the same salary numbers that we did for Chancellor, Bennett’s cap hit number for 2015 makes him the 10th highest paid defensive end in the NFL. In 2016, if unchanged, Bennett’s deal actually goes down from an $8 million deal to a $7 million deal.
Now, I’ll ask you the same question I did a moment ago regarding Chancellor. Is Bennett the 1oth best (or better) defensive end in the NFL?
In the case of Bennett, I think he’s progressed as a player. He’s a smart enough player to move up and down the line and play from multiple spots. He’s elevated his game each and every year since signing this deal. He didn’t hold out, showed up for work, and put up the best year of his career.
In the case of Chancellor, I think he’s regressed slightly as a player. Injuries have caught up with him and hurt his performance over the past couple of seasons. His game is down and yet he still was unhappy with the third best salary at his position.
In the world of the NFL salary cap, there very well might not be room for a deal sweetener for Chancellor and Bennett. If I can only afford to take care of one guy, then I choose Bennett. He’s the better player at his position and he put the team first, ahead of his own contract last year. I would choose to reward that behavior and not the other.
As for what to do with Chancellor, I’d like to keep him under the remaining two years of his deal. Despite the drop off, and attitude I think he still has tremendous value to the team. That said, if he’s still not happy with his current deal and won’t play because of the contract, it’s time to let Chancellor play someplace else.