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Return of the Kam

News broke this morning that Kam Chancellor is ending his holdout and heading back to Seattle. Hallelujah! The NFL season is hard enough without voluntarily playing a man down, and an All-Pro man at that. As this chapter of the 2015 season comes to a close, we can reflect on what we learned, what future implications might be, and what immediate impact this might have.

Precedent set

The popular storyline for this Chancellor holdout was that the Seahawks had set a precedent last year when they “rewarded” Marshawn Lynch by modifying his deal while was holding out. Providing something to a player who was not honoring his contract was seen as weakness that other players, like Kam, would not try to exploit. It appears as though Chancellor will be returning to the team without concessions on his contract. 
That sends a strong message to any future player who wants to test the will power of this front office. Very few players would want to go through what Chancellor did. He not only failed in his attempt to get more money in 2016, he ended up losing a substantial chunk of his 2015 paycheck. Teammates, including his secondary brother, Earl Thomas, did not appear thrilled that he was putting money ahead of team. Fans and media have been overwhelmingly against his decision. There are not a lot of positives that came out of this for Chancellor.
The team, though, did not come away unscathed. They stand at 0-2. The relationship between a massively talented locker room leader and the front office has been scarred. There are factions in any locker room, and Chancellor holds more sway than anyone outside of Lynch. Seattle is getting their safety back, but how much of him? 
Chancellor and his agent miscalculated in the end. They saw the Lynch scenario play out and saw a front office that will bend for its best players. What they failed to see was that Lynch got a deal that had been offered to him before the holdout began. They failed to see that the team barely budged on a deal with their franchise quarterback, and were willing to move on if he had not decided to sign at the last second. 
They were not the first to mistake Pete Carroll’s and John Schneider’s affable, approachable nature as weakness. Chancellor may have gotten more of the concessions he was looking for if he had appealed to the Carroll and Schneider’s sensitive side instead of butting heads with their competitive side. I think both men recognize what Chancellor means to the team and would have tried to work something out behind closed doors. The stakes simply became too high when it turned into a public tug of war. Neither side exits a winner. Chancellor surely lost the most.

What now?

Today is the last day Chancellor could report and have a chance to suit up for the game Sunday versus Chicago. More realistically, he will practice this week and prepare to play the following Monday versus Detroit.
There is an increased risk of injury when athletes take significant time off and then are rushed back onto the field. Chancellor is sure to be in peak physical condition, but there is no way he can be in football shape.
Carroll has a track record of making injured players practice for at least a week before inserting them back into the lineup. I’d expect the same to happen here even though Chancellor was not injured.
Don’t be surprised to see Dion Bailey get another start this week with a run-heavy Bears team coming to town, with DeShawn Shead available for nickel situations. Seattle is favored by so many points, that may oddsmakers have removed the game from the board. 
They do not need Chancellor to win this game. They won’t hold him out just to prove that point, but it makes little sense to rush him back into the lineup.

Ripple effect

Chancellor will be back in the lineup soon enough. The first thing that will happen is a player will have to be cut to make room for him. The most obvious choice would be Will Tukuafu unless the team is determined to carry two fullbacks all year. They might go for Steven Terrell or Bailey as the team probably does not need five safeties. B.J. Daniels is another option.
Even though Bailey had some tough moments in the Rams game, I would be surprised to see him go. He is still the most talented of the backup safeties, and now has a chance to be thrive in the role I always envisioned for him. Jeron Johnson moved on this year and left a perfect Bailey-sized hole to fill as the third safety in certain subpackages. 
Johnson was a playmaker. So is Bailey. Relieved of the pressure associated with being a starter, Bailey can freelance a bit more knowing he has Chancellor and Thomas behind him. He has a great chance to be remembered for positive plays this year if he can overcome the doubts that crept into his mind after the St. Louis experience.
The defense as a whole will now be able to operate with more confidence and should have fewer communication breakdowns. They already made great strides in that regard from week one to week two. It will be interesting to see if the linebackers look better in zone coverage with Chancellor back in the fold. He is the guy everyone points to as the film geek on that defense.
We will also find out how Kris Richard wants to utilize his All-Pro bonebreaker. It could lead to more confidence in calling blitzes or more comfort in sitting back in zones knowing coordination will be better. 

Warm welcome

Plenty of folks will be mad at Chancellor for what transpired. Some will even boo him when his name crosses the stadium speakers the first time. Not me. The guy has played every down with everything his body can offer and has been instrumental in forming the best team in Seattle history. He made a choice to holdout for more money. That had nothing to do with me. It does not matter how much he makes versus what I make, or what we make our money for. He made a choice. There have been natural consequences for that choice. It is time to move on.
Players will say that it doesn’t matter what fans say and do, but it does. They are human. Striking out at Kam will do nothing to help the team you care about, and could even hurt it. Instead of getting the reputation in that locker room that we are separated by this issue, consider sending the message that we are united. Welcome Kam back. Not only will it help everyone involved, but it will save you from being a hypocrite the next time Chancellor lays out an opposing receiver and you jump to your feet in celebration. 
Why wait? Stand up and cheer, Seattle. Your Chancellor has returned.

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