Kam Chancellor’s extension was Priority One for Seahawks

Posted Apr 22, 2013

Regardless of what else the Seahawks were able to accomplish this offseason, it was all done with an eye on the team’s top priority: Signing strong safety Kam Chancellor to an extension. That happened on Monday.

Acquiring the versatile Percy Harvin in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings last month was a pivotal move for the already-good and only-getting-better Seahawks. But it wasn’t the team’s top priority this offseason.

Supplementing the pass rush with the free-agent additions of Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel addressed a definite need. But that wasn’t the No. 1 objective of general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll, either.

That’s why Schneider and Carroll were all smiles on Monday, when they finally achieved their top offseason priority as Pro Bowl-caliber strong safety Kam Chancellor signed a four-year extension that will keep him under contract through the 2017 season.

“Anything that happened, other than being able to sign Kam, was going to be a bonus for us,” Schneider said during a news conference at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “It was our absolute No. 1 priority. We talked about it for a long time.”

Labeling the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Chancellor “one of the most intimidating players in the National Football League,” Schneider added, “This whole offseason, from the get-go, has been about Kam. And we would have never gotten into any other deals if we felt it was going to put his situation in jeopardy.”

And that is saying a lot for a player who was selected in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft because he was deemed too big to play the position he now plays so well. But that’s precisely the point when it comes to why the club made extending Chancellor such a priority – Chancellor plays the game the way Carroll needs it to be played. And, he just turned 25.

“Kam has been nothing but a positive influence on our program since the day he got here,” Carroll said. “It took him a year to get ready to play on a fulltime basis, but he made a big impact in his rookie season as well on special teams and when he had his opportunities (on defense).

“He is a leader. He’s a great football player. He’s a physical guy that plays right in the vein of the way we want to play our game. He stands for toughness and being physical, and we love every bit about that.

“He has led in so many ways.”

Again, that is saying something, and then some. What did Chancellor have to say on what Schneider emphasized was his day? He was almost at a loss for words when asked to describe his feelings, and what the actions of the team targeting him as a must-retain cog mean to him.

“I’ve got so many words, man, it’s hard to just like throw them out there,” he said. “I just feel great right now. The Seahawks’ organization has blessed me. It just feels good and I’m a happy person right now.”

If anyone is happier than Chancellor, it’s free safety Earl Thomas. They came to the team in the same draft – Thomas as the 14th pick overall in 2010; Chancellor as the 133rd. So they have grown up together as players, become friends and also matured into a very productive and disruptive tandem as the Seahawks’ last line of defense.

“It’s kind of crazy to see how Kam has evolved going into our fourth year together,” Thomas said on the anniversary of his selection by the Seahawks. “We came in together and I’ve seen him transform into a Pro Bowl-type player. It’s just great to see them reward in-house.”

Chancellor could have tested the open market after the 2013 season, and possibly earned even more from another team. But he wanted to remain with the Seahawks and help finish what he has helped start.

“It’s just Kam being unselfish,” Thomas said. “That’s just the type of guy he is.” 

The club also has signed All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch, All-Pro center Max Unger and defensive linemen Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane to new deals or extensions before they could hit the free-agent market the past two years.

“It just shows you how much they appreciate the core guys – the guys that started the foundation,” Chancellor said. “They promised me something, and they did it. All I can do is just thank them.”

Offered Carroll: “If you look back and you look at the guys that have been re-signed here – and you go back and you see Red and you see Clem and Mebane and all the way through; Marshawn – a lot of guys they were having some issues when we started. And we’re really excited to show that when guys come and whether it’s an issue of being a fifth-round pick and trying to prove it or whatever or coming as a free agent to prove something that hasn’t been proven before, we’re really proud of the fact we’ve been able to see guys elevate their game and get to the top of their game and get paid accordingly and do it the right way and compete to earn it and get it done.

“We hope that it’s understood that in this program that’s how we’re operating. And I think we’ve set a really good series of decisions that John has really led and done a great job to recognize how we’re doing it and to make the statement to our players that we do care, and we do see it and we do get it.”

Chancellor is the first of the Schneider/Carroll era draft picks to be signed to an extension. Again, that was more than by design. It was out of necessity, because recognizing and compensating their own core players is the way Schneider and Carroll want to do business.

“Obviously, this is a big deal. And we’re trying to make a big deal out of this day for Kam. This is Kam’s day,” Schneider said when asked about having a news conference to announce the extension. “And hopefully we can continue to do this for the rest of our players. Bu we’re going to have hard decisions all the way through.”

For now, Chancellor is the poster player for making the most of any opportunity that comes his way and also displaying patience until they do. It wasn’t until the bye week of his rookie season that Carroll found a defensive role for Chancellor – as the third safety in the Bandit defense. In the next game – an upset of the Bears in Chicago – Chancellor took over at strong safety in the sub-package, allowing veteran starter Lawyer Milloy to play close to the line. The Bears didn’t know what to do with Milloy, and now the league is having the same problem with Chancellor.

In 2011, when he played in the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement after being a first alternate in the balloting for the NFL all-star game, Chancellor finished second on the team with 94 tackles and also had career-highs in interceptions (four) and passes defensed (13). Last season, despite playing with a bone spur on each ankle that had to be surgically removed in January, Chancellor was third on the team with 91 tackles and a second alternate to the Pro Bowl.

“Kam stands for exactly what we love to support and reward,” Carroll said.

Along with Thomas, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and Pro Bowl-caliber corner Brandon Browner, Chancellor forms the “Legion of Boom” secondary that is one of best in the league – if not the best.

“This is where I wanted to be,” Chancellor said before his news conference. “We’ve got something good going here, and I want to continue to be a part of it. I’m glad that won’t be an issue anymore. Now, I can just go play and help this team win a championship.”

Chancellor signing his extension happened on the Monday of draft week, in a draft where the Seahawks do not have a first-round pick. It happened on what Schneider labeled “obviously a special day.”

“I really appreciate this moment,” Chancellor said. “I think I deserve this moment. I think I worked hard for this moment. I didn’t think it was given to me. I think I really worked hard for this moment. Being that people said I couldn’t play safety in this league, getting draft in the fifth round, these guys gave me a chance.”