Even though Kam Chancellor spent part of his week in New York modeling at a fashion show, the Seahawks strong safety doesn’t have to officially begin pursuing a new career just yet.
While it’s unclear if Chancellor will play football again due to a nerve injury in his neck suffered Nov. 9 against Arizona, Chancellor remains on the Seahawks’ roster and will receive his $6.8 million base salary in 2018 thanks to a clause in his contract that was enacted Friday.
Chancellor was due his entire base salary for 2018 if he remained on the roster as of Friday (or, five days after the end of the 2017 season). His injury situation had led to speculation that maybe he would retire or the team could think about releasing him. But Friday came and went without any move being made.
Not that that was really a surprise.
The structure of Chancellor’s contract -- a three-year, $36 million extension signed prior to last season that now looms ominously over the team’s salary cap -- and NFL rules make it that Seattle has little real choice but to carry Chancellor on the roster for now. And the passing of Friday’s deadline seems to assure that any resolution to Chancellor’s situation will likely take a while.
Injured players cannot be cut without a settlement (and could also be subject to a grievance hearing, creating the prospect of the team and one of its most iconic players battling it out in court) and Chancellor’s 2018 base salary is also guaranteed due to injury, so he will be paid for next year if he can’t play unless he were to retire. But there’s zero reason for Chancellor to retire and willingly give up that money, especially since he is also due $5.2 million that is also guaranteed due to injury in 2019.
Further complicating matters is that if the team were to release Chancellor the salary cap hit for 2018 would be $19.5 million since guarantees for future years would all go onto this year.
All of those factors had led to the conventional wisdom that nothing would happen now with Chancellor, despite lots of speculation, and that was confirmed as Friday came and went without any change in his status with the team.
Also on Friday, receiver Doug Baldwin, linebacker Bobby Wagner and quarterback Russell Wilson had some of their base salaries for 2018 become guaranteed -- Baldwin $4.5 million of his $8.25 million salary, Wagner $2 million of his $10 million salary, and Wilson $4.9 million of his $15.5 million. And also on Friday,center Justin Britt’s base salary of $2.75 million in 2018 became fully guaranteed.
As for Chancellor, the passing of Friday’s deadline means that he will continue to take tests over the next few months to see if he can recover well enough to play next season.
If not, then he will likely begin next season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. As former NFL agent and salary cap expert Joel Corry noted earlier this week, at that point the team’s best move would likely be to just carry Chancellor on the PUP list all season (assuming he can’t play) and then see if he can pass a physical in 2019, at which he could be released without Seattle having to pay his $5.2 million base salary.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said Thursday while appearing at the Seattle Sports Star of the Year banquet that Chancellor -- who has not spoken to the media since his injury -- remains hopeful of playing despite the general thought that it is unlikely (recall coach Pete Carroll saying after the season that both Chancellor and Cliff Avril, who has a similar injury, would “have a hard time” ever taking the field again).