RENTON — There will be no drawn-out DK drama, disrupting the runway to a season already fraught with enough problematic issues for the Seahawks.
On a day when health concerns over safety Jamal Adams darkened the mood, cross the biggest issue off the list: receiver DK Metcalf is in the fold, just two days into training camp. The Seahawks thus have their franchise player, the new face of the organization, the symbolic embodiment of coach Pete Carroll’s steadfast insistence in the wake of the Russell Wilson trade that they weren’t rebuilding.
Despite repeated assessments from Carroll throughout the offseason that indicated a deal with Metcalf was inevitable, one could still have envisioned a doomsday scenario whereby the sides reached an impasse. Particularly in light of the extravagant contracts suddenly being bestowed upon elite wide receivers, many of them after their original team decided it was too rich for their blood and instigated a trade. See Hill, Tyreek (among others).
But by numerous reports, Metcalf on Thursday agreed to a three-year extension with Seattle worth $72 million — $58.2 million of it guaranteed, including a $30 million signing bonus that is the largest ever given to a receiver.
Thus ends Metcalf’s “hold-in,” the new-age term given to that netherworld between total camp participation and a full-fledged, old-fashioned holdout. Instead, for the first two days, Metcalf was in limbo — visible in uniform during practice yet not participating in drills, a tease that was a poignant reminder of two things — just what a physical specimen Metcalf is, and just how much they would miss him if he left.
Now, everyone should be happy. Metcalf, at age 24, gets his money and stands to hit free agency at age 28, when he should still be in his prime and in full ascendancy. The Seahawks get the player most indispensable to their stated goal of competing in the rugged NFC West, which some would still characterize as a pipe dream in light of their unsettled quarterback situation. And they get him without having to set salary records; Metcalf’s $24 million annual average ties him for sixth in salary among NFL receivers.
Finally, on a team that has taken a significant hit in star power with the steady departures of the stalwarts of their Super Bowl teams — symbolized by Thursday’s news conference to announce K.J. Wright’s retirement, just a couple hours before the Metcalf news broke — fans have a charismatic and immensely talented player they can rally around.
Across the street from Lumen Field, Julio Rodriguez has shown the impact one player can have on an organization by dint of both skill and spirit. Metcalf is hardly the unknown quantity Julio was entering 2022. He has already shown in his three seasons with Seattle that he may have the greatest tool kit of any receiver in the game, and he has translated that into three seasons of vast production, particularly in his sophomore campaign (83 catches, 1,303 yards, 10 touchdowns).
Those numbers dropped to 75 catches and 967 yards last season, though Metcalf’s touchdown total rose to 12 (and it must be noted he was dealing with a foot injury that required offseason surgery). The Seahawks will be looking for Metcalf to be the home-run threat of their offense at a time when huge questions exist over who will get him the ball — and how well they’ll be able to do it.
The Wilson-Metcalf connection was undeniably dynamic at times — though at other junctures, frustrating in the perception that Metcalf was not being utilized to his full potential. There may not be another NFL receiver who possesses Metcalf’s combination of size, speed and strength. Accordingly, there were times you wanted Wilson to simply throw it up to Metcalf and let his instincts do the rest.
Can the Seahawks find a way to take Metcalf to the next level with Drew Lock or Geno Smith under center? That will be the challenge for offensive coordinator Shane Waldron to conquer. The presence of Tyler Lockett as a complementary threat will as always be to the benefit of Metcalf (and vice versa).
Now we’ll see what kind of rapport Metcalf can build with whomever wins the QB job, and to what new heights he can soar. It’s the kind of questions for which the Seahawks are thrilled to seek the answers.
It’s far preferable to the alternative question that threatened to dominate early camp: If and when Metcalf is going to show up. Now we know — and now the Seahawks can see how far Metcalf will take them.
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