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A Definitive Look at the Kam Chancellor Injury Situation

Kam Chancellor, drafted in the 2010 NFL draft with the 133rd pick in the 5th round, signed a 3-year contract extension in 2017 worth $36,000,000 with a signing bonus of $10,000,000 and guarantees of $25,000,000 ($12,000,000 of which are guaranteed for injury). That’s a huge amount of money to guarantee a player. Huge.

Kam’s cap hits look as follows –

2018 - $9,581,250

2019 - $13,000,000

2020 - $14,500,00

As with most contracts the base salary rises towards the end of the contract. His base salary in 2017 for example was $3M, however in the final year of the deal, his base sits at $10.5M alone.

Given Kam’s injury in 2017 against the Cardinals on Thursday Night Football, it really puts the team in a tricky situation with regards to what they do with him. Firstly, let’s take a look at the options –

He chooses to retire

Cut him. Whether that be pre-June 1st, post-June 1st or in 2019

Trade him

Keep him on the team

If Kam chose to retire, his dead money would be in 2018 only to the sum of $7.5M. 2019 and beyond would have zero dead money. This is, however, highly unlikely. He’d be walking away from millions of dollars on his contract when he really doesn’t need to. The team cannot force his hand, he is in total control of the situation. It’s possible the team and Kam come to some agreement with regards to moving money around on the basis that he retires, but still, I don’t think that will happen.

If Seattle were to cut him, a whole host of charges come into play including the $12M in injury guarantees as well as the $7.5M dead money mentioned above. His cap hit would be a staggering $19.5M for the 2018 season. Again, not happening.

Seattle could also choose to cut him after the June-1st designation (actually May 12th, but it’s very commonly known as ‘June-1st’. In this situation, it splits the cap hits over 2018 and 2019 resulting in a 2018 cap hit of $14.5M and a 2019 cap hit of $5M.

Technically speaking, the team ‘could’ get another team to pay for his contract by way of a trade. If Seattle gave a team with excessive cap space Kam as well as a combination of other players and/or draft capital that would be a way out of the deal. Very unlikely but worth mentioning as it is possible.

The most likely scenario for Kam in 2018 is for him to stay on the team (on the ‘Physically unable to Perform list) and be cut in 2019. This would give Seattle cap relief as his cap hit in 2019 is scheduled to be $13M, so the actual hit would be either $5M or $10.2M, depending on the guarantee. So you’d be looking at cap relief of either $8M or $2.8M.

This makes, by far, the most sense as far as the team are concerned. They have to bite the bullet in 2018 but given how much free cap space they have upcoming in 2019, the hit would not be anywhere near as damaging as it will be should they make any drastic changes to his status is 2018.

I’m not going to knock the contract too much as hindsight is a wonderful thing, but given Kam’s playing style, his previous injury history and his age, the contract raised several eyebrows at the time, and rightfully so. It was, at the very least, questionable.

Kam is a player that I’ve grown to love as a Seahawk. “The Enforcer” will be sorely missed in a Seattle jersey and his name is well and truly cemented as ‘one of the greats’.

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