RENTON — Of all the characters to make their way through Seattle in the past decade, none seemed to personify what coach Pete Carroll was seeking more than Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor.
One on offense. One on defense. Both overlooked and underappreciated coming out of college. Both exhibiting exactly the kind of determination and perseverance Carroll wanted from his Seahawks.
Now the two players who at one time starred on consecutive NFC championship teams are saying goodbye to Seattle at the same time. Both players’ contracts were terminated Thursday after each failed a physical.
For Chancellor, it was an expected procedural step following the neck injury that ended his career in November 2017.
For Baldwin, it was another sign that he could be facing retirement.
“The Seahawks have made the difficult decision to terminate/failed physical Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor,” general manager John Schneider said in a statement. “These are two of the most iconic players in franchise history and both were instrumental in establishing our championship culture, great examples of competitiveness and leadership on the field and in the community. These legendary players will always be a part of our Seahawks family.”
Baldwin’s failed physical is the latest sign his career could be over. Baldwin had surgery in the offseason to repair shoulder and groin injuries and he also had a knee procedure. Carroll and Schneider have both said recently that it would be a challenge for Baldwin to recover from the surgeries and that he was contemplating retirement.
Baldwin was an undrafted free agent who became a star. He had 50 receptions for 618 yards and five touchdowns last season although he was hampered by injuries. He missed a large chunk of training camp last season due to a knee injury, two games in September with a separate knee injury, and he played through groin and hip issues.
He is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who has twice topped 1,000 yards receiving. He led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches in 2015 and a year later had a career-high 94 catches. Baldwin started 76 of the past 77 games for the Seahawks dating to 2014 and has been the most trusted pass-catcher for Russell Wilson during their time together.
He may not have had the most memorable catches of Seattle’s championship run, but he was usually the one coming through when the team needed a big play.
Baldwin has also been an outspoken advocate for social justice and called for bail reform and police de-escalation training.
“You go through the process of feeling immortal when you’re younger. I think we all go through that process,” Baldwin said in December. “And then kind of contemplating where you take this and then things start to change and priorities outside of football change and life changes and you start to think about things in a bigger picture when football is such a small sliver on your lifetime.”
Chancellor declared last July in a social media post that it was “time for a new chapter” after scans on his injured neck showed no improvement. Chancellor said in the post that doctors had told him paralysis was a possibility. He remained on Seattle’s roster last season for salary purposes and was on the physically unable to perform list but not expected to play again following the injury.
He signed an extension through the 2020 season in August 2017 which contained guaranteed money in case of injury.
Chancellor was named to four Pro Bowl teams (2011, 2013-15) and was twice a second-team All-Pro selection (2013, 2014). He appeared in 109 career games for Seattle with 93 starts after being selected in the fifth-round of the 2010 NFL draft.
The release of Chancellor and Baldwin opened roster spots for Seattle to sign veteran cornerback Jamar Taylor, along with fullback Nick Bellore and guard Marcus Martin. Seattle will be the fifth team for Taylor, who had previous stops in Miami, Cleveland, Arizona and Denver. Taylor started 29 games over two seasons in Cleveland in 2016 and 2017 and will likely be in the mix for the nickel cornerback job after Justin Coleman left during free agency. Bellore was a linebacker for most of his career before making the switch to fullback with Detroit in 2017. Martin spent last season on injured reserve and has previous stops in San Francisco, Cleveland and Dallas.