Even with all of the excitement building for the Seahawks' regular season opener on Sunday, the holdout of strong safety Kam Chancellor is dominating the headlines.
Pete Carroll sounded sick of the topic when asked about Chancellor during yesterday's post-practice press conference, stating yet again the obvious: that the Seahawks are moving on without their 2014 captain and All-Pro because he hasn't reported.
Hours later Chancellor finally made a public statement, using NFL.com reporter Dan Hellie as a mouthpiece to explain that he and the Seahawks are actually just $900,000 apart in negotiations and that his absence was due, at least in part, to "petty" negotiating by Seattle.
It may sound like the two sides are as dug in as ever and that the relationship is beyond repair. Don't believe everything you see or hear, however.
SeahawkFootball.com has intentionally avoided much of the hype regarding the Chancellor holdout because, frankly, little has changed over the course of his 40-day holdout. Long ago, we told you that John Schneider and the Seahawks weren't going to budge and to expect Chancellor to remain away from the team until Week Two of the regular season.
There are several factors that point towards a possible resolution to Chancellor's holdout in the next week. Among them, are these three:
1. The money is about to get real
This is the factor that everyone is talking about because it is the simplest and most important. Chancellor was fined $30,000 for each day of training camp that he missed. That number jumps to $267,000 this week, or 1/17th of his contract. Carroll has already declared that even if Chancellor shows up at the VMAC this week he will not play vs. the Rams. However, the Seahawks retain the right to pay Chancellor his Game One weekly pay if he were to report prior to kickoff. Needless to say, a quarter of a million dollars for simply walking through the door is a significant bargaining chip.
2. Dion Bailey could steal Chancellor's "leverage"
There is no denying Chancellor's talent, leadership or fit in Seattle's scheme. However, if you think back to Carroll's days at Southern Cal, his teams often featured a physical linebacker-like presence at safety. Whether it was Darnell Bing, Taylor Mays, or T.J. McDonald, Carroll has a knack for discovering intimidating downhill strong safeties to fit his scheme. Chancellor is a freakish athlete but he is not irreplaceable. Former All-Pac-12 safety Dion Bailey may lack Chancellor's size but he's a heavy hitter in his own right, is fluid in coverage and boasts terrific instincts. If Bailey has the splashy NFL debut against the Rams on Sunday I think he will, Chancellor may be forced to recognize that Carroll's scheme and the rest of the talent on Seattle's defense has played a significant role in his emerging as an All-Pro.
3. Defensively-speaking, Green Bay in Week Two are a much more formidable challenge
It is the nature of negotiations (especially in the NFL, it seems) for things to not get rolling until deadlines approach. Certainly Seattle and Chancellor each looked at the regular season as a deadline of sorts to come to an agreement but the real test comes next week with the Green Bay Packers. This isn't to simply brush off the St. Louis Rams, who, of course, beat the Seahawks a year ago and are a formidable opponent. That said, as noted in the latest "Speaking with the Enemy," the Rams offense enters the season with big questions of their own. Even with the season-ending ACL tear by star wide receiver Jordy Nelson, the Packers on the other hand are one of the NFL's true offensive juggernauts. The Seahawks and Chancellor alike surely both recognize the challenge on the horizon as well as the potential playoff seeding implications of this Week Two matchup. As such, the urgency (and likelihood) of coming to an agreement amps up.