Seahawks deliver message: Follow our model for big payday

April 23, 2013 

RENTON — Being a Seattle Seahawks player these days carries two implied promises:

1. It doesn’t matter how you get here, you’re going to get a chance to prove yourself.

2. If you prove your value, you’ll be rewarded.

Monday, the Seahawks held a press conference to announce the contract extension of Kam Chancellor, who arrived as an oversized fifth-round draft pick as a strong safety in 2010.

He earned a Pro Bowl berth in his second season, and now, before the start of his fourth, pocketed $17 million guaranteed on a reported 4-year extension.

General manager John Schneider has taken to mentioning the “models” they’ve constructed for the Seahawks, which outline the way the building blocks of their philosophy fit together in the long run. Chancellor, he said, was “our absolute No. 1 priority.”

Locking players down before losing them to free agency follows a pattern Schneider and Pete Carroll have established with extensions for Marshawn Lynch, Brandon Mebane, Max Unger, Red Bryant, Chris Clemons and Mike Robinson.

Chancellor’s extension looks reasonable compared to the five-year deal with $22 million guaranteed that former UW Huskies star Dashon Goldson collected from Tampa Bay – although there’s been some early questioning if it might be a bit generous.

As good as this secondary has been, with Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner all earning Pro Bowl or All-Pro honors, there have been some inexplicable holes in zone coverages at crucial times, as well as some huge late-game mistakes.

And from the press box and the stands last season, sometimes Chancellor’s coverage was not as impressive as his run support. Part of that could be explained by the fact that he had bone spurs that required postseason surgery on both feet.

But there’s no debate that Chancellor, at 6-foot-3, 232 pounds, is a man unique to his position, a difference-maker, a player capable of setting or changing the tone of a game with one hit.

Check out his highlights online, and note the times he takes on backs like Steven Jackson or Frank Gore, and stands them up or knocks them backward. The majority of NFL safeties in those situations are aiming more timidly for shoelaces.

Further evidence occurred in the game against San Francisco late last season when he slobber-knockered tight end Vernon Davis on the sideline, and also pursued through traffic to nail Gore and force a fumble.

These are examples of uncommon physical skills, and since he just turned 25, there’s still an upside to all aspects of his game.

Coach Pete Carroll said that Chancellor “stands for toughness and being physical,” while in the locker room, he’s a quiet leader with exemplary attitude.

The Seahawks could have waited until his rookie contract was finished, but then he’s more vulnerable to the lure of the free-agent market.

“It shows how much they appreciate the core guys, the guys who laid down the foundation,” Chancellor said. “They promised me something and they did it.”

They’ve got more to do, of course, because Thomas and Sherman will end up being expensive to keep.

But this was obviously a statement Schneider and Carroll wanted to stress. None of those previous extensions warranted a press conference in the auditorium complete with a grinning, hold-up-the-jersey photo op.

But those other guys weren’t low-round draft picks by this regime. Schneider noted that Chancellor never had the opportunity for this kind of attention.

“Hopefully we can continue to do this with the rest of our players,” Schneider said. “But we’re going to have hard decisions all the way through.”

This, Carroll said, is the payoff for following the process. Compete to earn your position, do it the right way, and then get paid accordingly. “We hope it’s understood in this program that’s how we’re operating,” Carroll said. “(We want to) make the statement to our players that we do care, we do see it, we do get it, and hopefully we continue to send that message.”

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@ thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling

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