The “Legion of Boom” began its 2015 training camp without its biggest boomer.
Kam Chancellor wants more money.
That is why Seattle’s hard-hitting strong safety, and perhaps the most respected and popular teammate among the defending two-time NFC champions, was the only player to skip the first practice of training camp Friday at team headquarters.
The Seahawks could fine Chancellor up to $30,000 for each practice day he misses in camp. But coach Pete Carroll didn’t sound at all punitive — and, in fact, was glowing — when asked about the absence of one of his core leaders.
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“We’ve been messaging back and forth,” Carroll said upon the start of his sixth training camp as Seattle’s coach. “Kam is an amazing Seahawk. He’s been a great part of this team. We love him in every way. He stands for exactly what we love about this game and being a Seahawk and playing for us. Our hearts are with him.
“We want to make something happen. We want him back. We’re trying to figure it out. I see Kam as a champion warrior football player, part of this team, and one of the ultimate leaders of this team. Of course, we need to get him back.
“He has his points. He got his thoughts. He’s a very smart guy. He’s thought this out. He’s made a clear choice. We’ll see how it goes. I miss him.”
When asked how disruptive it is to have DeShawn Shead at strong safety to begin camp instead of the invaluable Chancellor, Carroll said: “I don’t see it as disruptive at this point. But we miss him. It’s too early in the process to know the impact.”
Chancellor has three seasons and $16.45 million in base salaries remaining on the four-year extension he signed in April 2013. All of his $4.45 million salary for this coming season is guaranteed.
His base pay 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.
He turned 27 in April. But 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 be expecting to play too many more seasons. Thus he is likely seeking Marshawn Lynch-like, additional guaranteed money while he can.
No Seahawk is more highly regarded by teammates. Russell Wilson said after he signed his $87.6 million contract extension Friday that he’s talked to Chancellor and expressed his support.
So has teammate Michael Bennett. The defensive end complained all offseason that his four-year deal — for $28.5 million, with $16 million guaranteed, which he signed before last season — wasn’t enough money, yet he showed up to camp on time.
“Obviously, Kam has outplayed his contract,” Bennett said Friday, while adding that he’s going to play this season out and hope the team gives him some money in early 2016.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider has made it a policy not to renegotiate deals that have multiple years left on them. He made something of an exception before last season with Lynch. Schneider moved money from later years of Lynch’s old deal to a new, up-front guarantee of $1.5 million for 2014 — and waived a week’s worth of camp-holdout fines — to get the star running back into training camp.
That opening in the GM’s door is what Chancellor may be seeking to push through.
Chancellor’s holdout, the gymnastics the Seahawks had to do to get Wilson’s deal done, the fact they are trying to extend the contract of All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner for perhaps $10 million per season — and Wagner’s tweet Friday, moments after Wilson signed, that Seattle “Can’t keep everyone” — shows one reason why no team since the NFL instituted a salary cap in 1994 has played in three consecutive Super Bowls.
That’s what the Seahawks are trying to do, while also trying to keep core players happy for years and still fit under the salary cap.
After Wilson’s deal, the Seahawks have just over $4 million remaining under this year’s cap.