What a two days for the Seahawks. So what that they are still six weeks from playing any real games.
Team owner Paul Allen tweeted Saturday night that All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner has a four-year contract extension with the Seahawks.
That news came a day after Seattle re-signed franchise quarterback Russell Wilson to another four-year deal worth $87.6 million.
“@Seahawks signed LB @Bwagz54 to a 4 year extension tonight! #GoHawks” Allen tweeted.
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So Seattle completed its top two goals for before the season opener in a span of about 39 hours.
What’s next, Kam Chancellor showing up at training camp to end his holdout?
The $7.2 million in prorated, future salary-cap costs the Seahawks saved by trading Percy Harvin to the New York Jets in October is paying off handsomely now.
Wagner’s rookie contract from being a second-round draft choice in 2012 ends after this season. With his speed, smarts and tackling ability, he’s come to be considered along with Carolina’s Luke Kuechly as the top two middle linebackers in the NFL.
The NFL Network reported Wagner’s deal is worth $43 million, with $22 million guaranteed, making him the league’s highest-paid middle linebacker.
Earlier Saturday evening, Michael Robinson of NFL Network, a former Seahawks teammate of Wagner’s, tweeted that Wagner had a deal:
“Just got off phone with my dawg @Bwagz54 glad to say he’s come to terms to stay w/ #12thMan a little while longer!! Proud of ya homie!” Robinson tweeted.
Wagner said on Friday — hours after Seattle re-signed the linebacker’s draft classmate Wilson — that it was important he be recognized as the top middle linebacker in the league.
Pittsburgh’s Lawrence Timmons was the highest-paid middle linebacker in the league with a five-year contract averaging $9.5 million per year. San Francisco’s NaVorro Bowman is averaging $9 million on his five-year deal. Brian Cushing is averaging $8.75 million with Houston.
Those three have combined for half as many Super Bowl starts as Wagner has had in his three-year career. None of them is an All-Pro.
Asked if it’s important to him to be the NFL’s highest-paid middle linebacker, Wagner said: “It’s important to me to be recognized as one of the best.
“Like I said, it’s not up to me. I let the people who get paid to figure that out figure that out. My job is to go out there and make sure this defense is run right and be the best defense. And it will be the best defense you’ll see on this field. Again.”
On Friday, after the Seahawks got Wilson’s deal done, coach Pete Carroll stressed “We’re not done” — then strongly hinted the talks with Wagner’s agent could produce an agreement soon.
“We’re on it. We’re on it,” Carroll said.
Love for Chancellor
Resent Kam Chancellor?
Ha! You’ll have an easier time finding a 49ers fan in a Colin Kaepernick jersey on the grass berm of fans at Seahawks training camp each day at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center than you will finding a player, coach, staffer, gardener or parking attendant offer even a raised eyebrow over the thumping strong safety’s holdout.
The ultrapopular team leader seems more beloved here than ever, two days into his stay-away stance to get more than the $4.45 million he’s guaranteed this season.
Just a mere mention of Chancellor’s name made defensive mate K.J. Wright shake his head for almost a full minute after Saturday’s sun-splashed, two-hour workout.
“Man, we are losing our identity without him coming in,” Wright said. “That’s one guy I love, just practicing with, playing with, just coming into the locker room with him there. You just feel something is missing.
“I hope he can get something figured out and we get him back here. Because that’s our captain.
“I know he wants to be here. He just needs to handle himself first and he’ll be out here.”
Yet, is it not something of a conflicted — if not just plain bad — message for the rest of the team when its leader, Chancellor, isn’t setting the example by being here and grinding through hot days of training camp with everyone else?
Wright laughed loudly. He almost scoffed at that idea, really.
“Nah!” he said. “Not at all. Players, we stick together. We know why he’s not here. We back him up — I back him up — 100 percent. I understand the situation, because I’ve been in his shoes. Everybody wants what they want. This is the way to get the job done.”
Here’s why Russell Wilson is talking to Chancellor almost daily, telling his defensive captain that he’s behind him. Here’s why Michael Bennett, himself unhappy one season into his four-year, $28.5 million deal, said Chancellor is “making the right decision. And I back him 100 percent.”
Here’s why even coach Pete Carroll backs Chancellor in this, at least publicly, texting him regularly and calling him an “awesome Seahawk” and saying “we love him in every way” and “our hearts go out to him.”
Here’s the crux of this:
Those in this almost-nothing-is-guaranteed league know that the window for big earnings is so small and can slam shut so instantaneously because of injury or even a bad few games. And, sure, they are wealthy today. But they aren’t just playing for themselves, or just for today.
Unlike in Major League Baseball and pro basketball, with their fully guaranteed contracts, an NFL player has to get his when he can get it. Because it — or he — may not be there tomorrow.
“You’ve got to!” Wright said, appreciating the recognition of how NFL players think. “We are so young — I’m 26 — and we’ve got to make this last. … We are trying to make this last for our grandkids. So this is the only opportunity that most of us have, that we can get, you know, to set up our family for generations to come. Most of us are not going to get out there in life and be owners of the Seahawks, you know what I’m sayin’?
“You’ve got to get what you can, when you can.”
Chancellor turned 27 in April. He grew up one of five children to a single mother, Karen Lambert. She raised her kids in the crime-filled Park Place neighborhood on the west side of Norfolk, Virginia, while working two jobs for as long as anyone can remember. Chancellor has older acquaintances in his hometown, guys he used to look up to there, who now look up to him as the huge success and tell him: “Don’t forget about us.”
He doesn’t. Over Memorial Day he was back in Norfolk for Bam Bam’s Spring Jam, an annual barbeque and community event to help his Kam Cares foundation. Seemingly half the Seahawks roster flew to Virginia to attend and support Chancellor. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, Marcus Burley and Marshawn Lynch were among them, also taking part in a rollicking celebrity basketball game at Chancellor’s Maury High School.
Lynch may be whom Chancellor is following right now. Lynch held out of the first week of last year’s training camp before the Seahawks moved up future money into $1.5 million more in additional guarantees for him in 2014. As an additional sweetener to get the league’s leading rusher since 2011 into camp, the team waived its fines for him missing those practices.
Chancellor has three seasons and $16.45 million in base salaries remaining on the four-year extension he signed in April 2013. His base pays of $5.1 million for 2016 and $6.8 million for 2017 are not guaranteed. That is likely what he wants the Seahawks to address while he holds out.
With his hard-hitting style and the myriad injuries he’s had — a hip surgery before last season, bone spurs in his feet for which he contemplated surgery last September, balky ankles and knees, then a medial-collateral ligament injury two days before February’s Super Bowl, for which he avoided surgery — Chancellor frankly may not expect to play too many more seasons. Thus he is likely seeking Lynch-like, additional guaranteed money while he can, as Wright put it.
So far, even while Chancellor is subject to fines by the team, up to $30,000for each practice he skips, it sounds and feels like a most Kumbaya holdout.
“Obviously Kam has outplayed his contract,” Bennett said. “Back in the Super Bowl he hurt his knee in practice and he came and played in the game and made some perfect plays. I think Kam is, for him, he is making the right decision. And I support him 100 percent.”
So does Wilson — though it became a lot easier for the quarterback to feel that way as of Friday. That’s when he signed the second-richest, per-year deal in the league at an average of $21.9 million over the next four seasons.
“It’s all business, it’s one of the parts of the game. It’s not just this circumstance here, it’s everywhere,” Wilson said. “I’ve been talking to Kam. He wants to be out here, and he’s a guy that’s so determined and a guy that I respect the world out of and that gives his heart and soul every day, and every guy on this team knows that.
“Guys like Michael Bennett, too as well, and other guys. They play so hard ever play, and I respect the process of it all. And I understand what they’re going through in terms of their decision or whatever. So you have to just respect that and let them do whatever they feel is necessary.”
CHIP ON IRVIN’S SHOULDER
Bruce Irvin told you he was ultramotivated.
It took just one and half training-camp practices for the Seahawks’ energetic linebacker to spark on the Virginia Mason Athletic Center field on Saturday, the 2012 first-round draft choice, entering the final year of his rookie deal, and left tackle Russell Okung, Seattle’s 2010 top pick, went at each other’s throats with late jabs well after the play ended three times near the end of team drills.
Coaches and teammates had to separate them. Irvin kept woofing at Okung, who is 2 inches taller and nearly 70 pounds heavier, and didn’t back down. At one point, Irvin broke in and tackled surprised ball carrier Rod Smith around the legs in the backfield, a no-no in these no-contract practices.
Finally, defensive line coach Dwaine Board pulled Irvin behind the huddle and talked to him.
Fifteen minutes after practice ended, Okung was his normal, soft-spoken self, talking about master’s degrees. Irvin was holding kids in his arms and smiling for fans.
Irvin has made no secret of his anger over the Seahawks choosing in May not to pick up his contract option for 2016. It would have paid him $7.8 million. Coach Pete Carroll has said the team hopes to re-sign Irvin to a multi-year deal — left unsaid: at an annual rate that is more cap-friendly than $7.8 million — and that Irvin knows that.
Yet Irvin also knows the business of the NFL. At least now he does, after the option payday that never will be.
“I feel that really put a chip on my shoulder that I go out here and handle my business,” Irvin said in June.
Okung is also entering the final year of his contract. It is paying him $4.8 million this year with a $7.28 million charge against Seattle’s salary cap. He talked after practice Saturday about his recent decision to represent himself in contract negotiations after this season.
“Yeah, I’m not the agents’ best friend right now,” he said, chuckling.
“I am doing this to be memorable. I want people to remember that the Seahawks won the Super Bowl (for the 2013 season) — and I did this to take the reins of my life.”
Okung spent time this offseason taking classes toward a degree in the University of Miami’s master’s of business administration program for artists and athletes. He said he wants to parlay that into an eventual career in investing of some kind.
DAY 2 OF CAMP
▪ When Marshawn Lynch is ending carries and catches so far in camp, he’s giving a confetti-like toss of the ball in the open field while the play is still going on. For a guy who prides himself on rarely fumbling, it’s a noticeable preseason twist. Then again, he’ll likely get next-to-no carries in the exhibition games again this month.
▪ Brandon Mebane alternated with Jordan Hill as the first-team defensive tackle in team drills. Mebane is coming off a torn hamstring and turned 30 this offseason.
“Thirty years old ain’t old,” he said, adding he feels like he’s “25 or 24,” and that he’s great physically.
He said now it’s a mental challenge to get back all the way. He’s considered himself 100 percent healed since April.
Mebane could be a target for contract renegotiation or worse before camp is over, given that the Seahawks are trying to get Chancellor into camp and re-sign All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner for perhaps $10 million a year, with just over $4 million left under their 2015 salary cap. Mebane has a cap number of $5.7 million in this final year of his contract.
▪ Jimmy Graham keeps catching everything. No one on the roster has proven able to leap high enough to keep the ball from the 6-foot-7 monster tight end, who is moving around to every receiving position.
▪ Drew Nowak is still prominent with the starting offense at center, splitting time with Lemuel Jeanpierre again. Line coach Tom Cable is giving Nowak, a college defensive tackle and a practice-squad guard for Seattle last season, a long look to replace Max Unger this season.
▪ Edge pass rusher Cassius Marsh sped around tackle Jesse Davis many times into the backfield on pass rushes. It’s a good sign for the high-motor Marsh, whose rookie season last year ended 3½ months early because of a broken foot.
▪ Tarvaris Jackson threw deep ball after deep ball on target. Two were for scores to lunging, tumbling Kevin Smith, the former Washington Husky. Douglas McNeill also caught three long balls by pulling away from defenders — though on a couple of those plays the defense would have had a sack were it a game.
▪ R.J. Archer, the third-string quarterback, has been throwing behind receivers many times.
▪ Running back Robert Turbin, who sat out practice Friday, got some plays Saturday.
▪ Former Kansas State defensive back Ty Zimmerman is on the roster, taking Chancellor’s place. Chancellor is on the reserve/did-not-report list.