In my Seahawks season preview, I believed that the secondary for Seattle would be ready for the beginning of the season, with the exception of Jeremy Lane who suffered a broken arm and knee injury in the Super Bowl. In the weeks following, several things have changed for the Seahawks’ defense. So what are the changes?
The biggest development in the last two weeks is that Kam Chancellor is now unhappy with his contract and has begun a holdout from training camp. Chancellor is due 4.5 million this season, but I believe the sticking point is more than just a belief that he has outplayed his current contract. Chancellor’s contract doesn’t have any guaranteed money past this season. This guy played through several difficult injuries, including a nagging hip injury and an MCL tear he suffered just a few days before the Super Bowl and actually played through it. He has seen several of his buddies in the secondary get top dollar in Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas and he wants recognition in the form of a better contract. During his holdout, Chancellor will be incurring fines up to $30,000 a day.
Speaking of the secondary, there are a lot of them on the PUP-list (physically unable to perform); headlined by Earl Thomas who is recovering from surgery on a torn labrum. It is not yet certain how long it will take for him to be a “full-go”, and most projections have him getting back the last week of the preseason. Jeremy Lane isn’t scheduled to be back until week 4 or later. Tharold Simon is recovering from a shoulder injury but is hopeful he will be back during the preseason.
To put it into context: of the defensive backs who played significant time in the Super Bowl last season, one is no longer on the team, one is holding out, and three are on the PUP-list. Richard Sherman is the only one who is “healthy.” He hyper-extended his elbow in the playoffs last year, but no news has come out to indicate that he will not be 100% at season start. It is possible that Kam Chancellor is using the lack of health in the secondary to negotiate a better deal for himself, because his backup Dion Bailey is on the non-football injury list.
In a semi-surprising turn of events, Michael Bennett showed up to camp after talking holdout himself just a few weeks ago. Bennett is one of the most versatile defensive linemen in the NFL because he is effective at tackle and end which allows the team to add an extra pass-rushing specialist on passing downs. It looks like Bennett will play out the season and wait to see what happens with his contract next offseason.
So how does this affect the team as a fantasy defense?
I still believe they are no worse than a top 3 fantasy defense, even in the most skeptical minds. Bennett not holding out makes the defensive line stronger, which they will need to be if the secondary is missing All-Pro talent. I contend that it is still too early to project them being anything but the #1 fantasy defense come draft day. Even though they would love to all be healthy and happy before the season starts, it’s not mandatory for week one even though they lost in St. Louis last season. The week that it will hurt the most to be missing anyone is week 2 at Green Bay. And let’s be honest, the Seahawks lucked out with playing at Lambeau Field in September and not in December.