Kam Chancellor, reportedly, isn’t going to play without a new contract. The 0–2 Seattle Seahawks want to get back to their winning ways without giving in to the demands of their three-time Pro Bowl safety, who still has three years left on his deal.
By the looks of things, both scenarios can’t happen.
Chancellor, a gem of a fifth-round pick found by Pete Carroll in 2010, has already cost himself nearly $2 million in lost pay (including fines) this season on a four-year deal that was worth $28 million when he signed it in 2013. But after seeing Seattle show Russell Wilson (four years, $87.5 million), Marshawn Lynch (three years, $31 million), and Bobby Wagner (four years, $43 million) the money, Chancellor already wants a new deal.
Judging by the early returns on the defense, Chancellor may have some negotiating room.
Last year, Seattle didn’t allow any team more than 30 points in a single game. Through two games this year, the two-time NFC champion Seahawks have allowed an average of 30.5 points per game.
On the flip side, Chancellor is only one year into his four-year extension. Typically renegotiated deals occur with rookie contracts or when the current deal is more than halfway done—not one year into it.
Yet sometimes these holdouts by star players on star-studded teams show who really carries the load.
Back in 1993, Cowboys running back, and future Hall-of-Famer, Emmitt Smith held out the first two games of the season while looking for a new contract. Dallas, which was the defending Super Bowl champ, featured Troy Aikman at quarterback and Michael Irvin at receiver—two future Hall-of-Famers themselves—yet started the season 0–2 without Smith.
Eventually Smith and owner Jerry Jones hammered out a deal and suddenly the Cowboys were back on a winning track, with victories in seven straight games en route to their second straight Super Bowl win.
In 2002, a different sort of superstar absence made the three-time defending champion Lakers realize which future Hall-of-Famer was absolutely vital to the team’s success when Shaquille O’Neal missed the first 12 games of the season following toe surgery. At the time, O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were considered 1-2 as far as best players in the game—though it wasn’t clear just who was 1 and who was 2.
After a 3–9 start without Shaq, though, most pundits figured out just how much Bryant and the Lakers benefited from having the dominant center in the game. Still, the Lakers went just 8–10 over their next 18 games with Shaq before catching fire, winning 39 of their final 52 games—yet they would be stopped by the Spurs in their quest for a fourth straight title.
Chancellor’s absence is difficult in two ways for the Seahawks, though. Not only would they not prefer to set a precedent of renegotiating deals just one year into them; after giving big contracts to a number of their star players already, they’re running out of room under the NFL’s hard cap to keep all their talent happy.