The Seattle Seahawks agreed to terms on a contract extension with strong safety Kam Chancellor Tuesday morning. ESPN reports Chancellor's new deal is worth $36 million over three years with $25 million guaranteed, and will keep the four-time NFL Pro Bowler in Seattle through the 2020 season.
This contract represents a HUGE risk for the Seahawks. Why? Guaranteed money.
Nearly 70% of Chancellor's new deal is guaranteed ($25 million out of the $36 million total). Basically, two of the three seasons are already dead money, and those three seasons don't even start until NEXT year.
The full terms of the deal are not yet public, but given the nature of a guaranteed contract, even if Chancellor gets hurt THIS year, the Seahawks are still on the hook for $25 million. That's not great.
Chancellor will be 30 years old before he plays a single game under this new contract. He has missed 11 games over the past three seasons due to a groin injury, hip injury, pelvis injury, and a two-game holdout. He has undergone surgeries on both ankles to clean up bone spurs. All things considered, these are injuries that happen to an NFL player — especially one who plays with as much violence as Kam Chancellor.
Still, we know how these things go. As a player ages he becomes more injury prone. It doesn't matter what position he plays, or how he plays it, injuries and old age catch up to every player eventually. The Seahawks are betting a lot of money they won't catch up to Chancellor by the time he turns 33, or at least 32.
The Chiefs' Eric Berry is the only safety in the league with more guaranteed money on his deal than Chancellor, and the $29.8 million Berry was guaranteed represents just 38% his six-year, $78 million contract. According to OvertheCap.com, Chancellor is the only player in the league with at least 70% of a contract worth more than $30 million guaranteed.
(Texans defensive end JaDaveon Clowney's $22.3 million deal was 100% guaranteed, and his fifth-year option of $13.8 million will become guaranteed if he's on the roster on the first day of the 2018 league year. So his deal will be similar if he finishes it out, but that last year isn't guaranteed yet.)
In the short-term this extension is a very good thing for the Hawks. Chancellor was the final piece of the defensive puzzle for Pete Carroll and John Schneider, who now have every one of their defensive starters signed through the 2018 season. Now they can focus on football. No more holdouts, no more squabbles, time to play.
But even if you're a Chancellor fan (which, for the record, I am) you have to worry about what this seems to indicate for the future of team as a whole. Pete Carroll wrote a book called Win Forever, but most of the moves he and John Schneider have made over the past couple years have been focused on extending their current core, rather than bringing in players to compete with their current stars.
That's not really all that surprising though. In a vacuum, each and every one of the stars they have extended is worth keeping. But it's a shift in strategy from the early years of the Carroll/Schneider era, when they would draft for talent rather than need and weren't beholden to any player.
Carroll is 65 years old. He's the oldest head coach in the league, even if he acts like the youngest. So it makes sense that they would draft for need more than straight talent as they push for a few more shots at the title with their current core.
The clock is ticking on the Seahawks, and even though the phrase "title window" has been beaten to death, everything they've done makes it seem like they know it's closing fast.