Many people close to this team knew that this day was probably coming sooner than later. For Kam Chancellor it was pretty obvious, but for Doug Baldwin, it was less so, but over time, started to become more obvious.
For Chancellor, we knew that in 2017 his career was likely over after the neck injury he suffered against Arizona midway through that season. Yet he had just signed a big extension with the team that was full of guaranteed money, and thus it was not financially feasible for him to retire in 2018, as that would mean forfeiting all those guarantees. So he stayed with the team in 2018 as a non active player, but he was essentially retired, and in 2019, it would just be a matter of formality for the team to officially release him so that he can collect the remainder of his guaranteed earnings while the team could collect it’s portion of non-guarantees, if that makes sense.
For Baldwin, things were a bit different, but there were those close enough to him during the 2018 season who hinted that his time in the NFL might be coming to a close after the season. There were rumblings on Seahawks Twitter that perhaps the player was ready to move on. Doug had a tough season battling through various injuries, and a lot of his close friends were no longer players on the team. There was a read-between-the-lines sense that perhaps the game might have stopped being fun for him, and as we got into the official 2019 offseason mode of the team, reports started to surface that he was having to have multiple offseason operations, and he was, in fact, contemplating retirement. So anyone following these reports shouldn’t have been overly shocked about what just happened earlier today.
For me these releases are a simple formality by the team done as a solid to each one of these iconic players. By releasing each one, they get to keep their guaranteed dollars that they fought and earned, and frankly, put their lives at risk for. If each player filed for retirement, they would have forfeited those dollars. So, while it comes across cold on the sports tickers that Seattle released these two icons, it’s far from it.
For me it’s sad knowing that I will not see Kam Chancellor and Doug Baldwin suit up anymore in Seahawks uniforms on Sundays, but this is something I have been bracing for a while now. There was a reason why Seattle took two safeties and three receivers in the draft the other week.
But this little piece isn’t really about those replacements. This is about acknowledging what truly wonderful and unique players Seattle was fortunate enough to have in a oversized fifth round pick of a strong safety, and a short un-drafted slot receiver with a massive chip on his shoulder. These guys were special, and it took the league quite a while to truly recognize just how special they were. Physically, they had talent, but I think both men reached the height of their success by what was inside them. Kam Chancellor and Doug Baldwin are lions. Absolute lions. On a team that prided themselves of having a bunch of “dogs” for players, these two guys were lions.
That’s how I see them. That’s how I will remember them. They kept the other players around them honest, and focused. They were the epitome of the franchise player; the players that always had the team’s best interests at heart. I love those guys. As my son grows up, I will point to them, and tell him that they are the dudes to be like.
What this means for Seattle moving forward is a topic for another post. I said it with the recent Ziggy Ansah post, and I will say it with this one; I don’t think Seattle is done with its offseason acquisition of talent. Now with these two big salaries off the books, it opens up further cap space to continue adding more pass rush, and now probably another receiver. But for me, I just know I am really going to miss that dynamic Wilson to Baldwin connection this Fall.. just like I missed seeing Chancellor dynamically roaming the back end of the defense last Fall.
It’s tough to see players you love leave your team, and the game, but at least with these two, they leave the game as Seahawks. In this modern era of the NFL, that’s rather rare. So for me, it means a ton. Selfishly, this is how I want to see them go out. I don’t want one of them playing for the 49ers, and the other one playing for the Patriots. I want them to go off as Seahawks.
As Seattle Seahawk fans, we have enjoyed an absolute incredible run of NFL football over the past seven years or more. They spoiled us big time. Kam Chancellor and Doug Baldwin were heart and soul players in that time, and I hope that the team puts them in the Ring of Honor together, just as soon as they can. They deserve that honor. We deserve that.