Friday became Guarantee Day for the Seahawks.
The fifth day following the Super Bowl, the fifth day of the league’s after-season waiver period, is the trigger date for guarantees in some Seattle players’ contracts for the ensuing year.
Friday Kam Chancellor got $5.2 million of his $10 million Seahawks salary for 2019 guaranteed (yes, he’s still on the roster because he hasn’t retired despite his career-ending neck injury in 2017). Chancellor had a clause in the extension the four-time Pro Bowl safety signed in August 2017, months before he injured his neck. It guaranteed him $5.2 million for 2019 in the event of injury.
That guarantee, and the one for $6.8 million against injury he received this time last year, are why Chancellor has not officially retired. He still has one more year after this one remaining on that legacy contract he signed almost two years ago, one that still stings the Seahawks and their salary cap. If he retires, he forfeits those guarantees.
That’s the danger of agreeing to a multiyear extension with upfront cash to a rugged veteran who had a history of injuries. Even when he was that team’s soul.
Chancellor sustained a nerve injury in his neck Nov. 9, 2017, making a tackle late in a win at Arizona. That was three months and a week after Chancellor signed an extension through the 2020 season that included $25 million guaranteed against injury.
That deal and paying a guy who can’t play for them is part of why the Seahawks played hardball and did not give three-time All-Pro Earl Thomas the richest deal for a safety in the league last offseason and preseason. Then the 29-year-old broke his leg for the second time in three years, in late September in another win at Arizona. Thomas is on his way to free agency next month. His Seahawks’ contract is expiring instead of it getting extended or him getting traded, as he wanted throughout 2018.
Chancellor’s salary-cap charge for 2019 is scheduled to be $13 million, including prorated bonuses. If the Seahawks released him before June 1 they would save $2.3 million of that $13 million against their cap and would have a $2.5 million cap charge for him in 2020. The $2.5 million is the prorated amount of the signing bonus that would remain on Chancellor’s contract.
If the Seahawks release him after June 1 they’d save $4.8 million against their cap this year.
It’s basically a choice of whether the Seahawks want to save $2.5 million against their cap this year, or next.
They are in the best cap shape they’ve been in for years. They had $52.7 million in cap space as of Friday, eighth-most in the league, according to overthecap.com.
Other Seahawks getting guaranteed cash for 2019 on Friday: wide receiver Tyler Lockett ($3,907,000, from the extension he signed last summer), center Justin Britt ($2.25 million), safety Bradley McDougald ($1 million) and left tackle Duane Brown ($1.75 million). All are central to the team’s plans and fortunes in 2019.
Former agent Joel Corry, who writes on salary-cap issues for CBS Sports, noted Friday the Seahawks’ date for vesting guarantees in their contracts is the earliest in the league. Most happen in March, in the days after the new league year begins.
The money Chancellor, Lockett, Britt, McDougald and Brown got Friday were all expected guarantees. After all, the Seahawks wrote them into each player’s contract.
The unexpected Seahawks guarantee Friday?
Yes, a live Seahawks snow cam guaranteed we all could see every flake of snow falling at team headquarters, Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass style. It was mounted on a upper-floor window of the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, facing south overlooking the Seahawks’ practice fields along Lake Washington.
That’s how big an event the much-hyped Seattle Snowpocalypse was already Friday afternoon. It was not even one hour after the snow we’ve been hearing about here all week began falling on the Seattle-Tacoma area.
Even Lockett, a native of Tulsa, Okla., who played his college football at Kansas State, was impressed: Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.