Seattle began offseason workouts this week with one of the top priorities being to find someone, anyone, to fill the void created by the loss of wide receiver Doug Baldwin, released by the team last week after failing a physical.
Seahawks' coach Pete Carroll made it clear that replacing Baldwin, who had multiple surgeries this offseason after an injury-riddled 2018, wouldn't be possible given all that he brought to the team as a player, leader and example of how to be a professional.
"He’s been an integral part of everything we’ve ever been about since I’ve been here, it seems," Carroll said. "But not just he’s a good player – he’s been tremendous competitor in the program and he’s been a leader and he’s demonstrated everything that you’re supposed to demonstrate as a ball player in terms of toughness and grit and care and love and passion and all of that. So I don’t think we replace Doug. I think Doug was Doug and we won’t ever replace him in particular."
Well said, but Doug will no longer be Doug on the football field where his production and Jedi-like connection with quarterback Russell Wilson won't easily be replicated.
"Doug has arguably been one of the best receivers in the National Football League for the past however many years, since he came into the league," Wilson said. "I’m glad he was on my team and I got to throw to him every day, versus him being on another team. I think the thing about Doug is he was always open. He knew how to create separation. He had this fire that you didn’t see in anybody else, almost in a way. And I think that in terms of his passion, his love for the game, his love for just competing, his love for making plays, I mean, when the game’s on the line, he’s going to make a play, you know, and so, you’re going to miss that for sure."
How much Seattle ended up missing all that was Baldwin is the question.
To date, Seattle has avoided signing a veteran free agent to add to the receiver mix. Names such as Michael Crabtree and former Seattle receiver Jermaine Kearse remain available. The Seahawks could also wait for a veteran to be released by another team or explore a trade.
Another option is to simply roll with what the Seahawks have and hope that improvement from within, or an emerging rookie, will lessen the impact of losing Baldwin, whose five touchdown receptions over the final seven games last season (he missed one of them) helped get Seattle into the playoffs.
Carroll said his is very pleased with the mix of receivers in place, and eclectic group that includes plenty of size, speed and power to go round.
"When we get back to camp we're going to have some real competitions rolling," Carroll said. "We added three guys to the competition just out of the draft."
Here is a look at the receivers Seattle will choose from:
Tyler Lockett: He moves into the No. 1 role, which he basically took over last year while Baldwin struggled to heal his failing body. Lockett, who signed a three-years, $31 million contract extension before the season began, had career bests in receptions (57), yards (965) and touchdowns (10).
"Tyler Lockett had a phenomenal year last year," Wilson said. "It’s his time to step up again. He’s going to have to play a major, major role this year, which he’s one of the best receivers in the league and all the things he can do to separate."
He might be the wild card here. The seventh-round pick in 2017 came through last season with 26 receptions for 445 yards and five touchdowns and could start in 2019, or at the very least be the No. 3 receiver.
"D-Mo is coming off really, I think, kind of a breakout year for him," Carroll said. "We're really counting on him taking another step in his junior year."
Wilson said Moore, who is 6-0, 215 and plays big and fast, must build upon last season.
"I think for him it’s the consistency and just staying hot, cause when he gets hot, he’s on, he’s unstoppable," Wilson said. "And so we want to get him the ball as much as we can."
D.K. Metcalf: The rookie second-round pick is 6-foot-3, 229 pounds and runs a 4.33 40-yard dash. At the very least he will be a vertical and jump ball threat. He might not become a polished receiver in 2019, but he certainly should have an impact, even as maybe the No. 4 receiver.
"He’s a freak of nature," Wilson said. "He’s a guy that can run as fast as can be. He can go up and get it, he can run all the routes and stuff like that. So it’ll be exciting to see his evolution, I think his work ethic and everything else."
The veteran of the group at age 29, Brown caught just 14 passes last year for 166 yards but five of his receptions went for touchdowns. If Metcalf is slow to develop, Brown could be the No. 3 receiver behind Lockett and Moore.
"I feel like we underused him," Carroll said. "He had a lot of touchdowns for his catches but we expect to get more out of him."
Said Wilson: "He knows how to get open. He could create separation. He’s a leader. He’s an ultimate professional. So that’s what you’re looking for there in terms of JB."
Gary Jennings: Jennings brings size at 6-1, 214 pounds and he could play inside or out. He ran a 4.42 at the combine and should at the very least provide strong depth. It seemed rather obvious that Seattle had reservations about Baldwin's health when it selected Jennings just two rounds after taking Metcalf.
Amara Darboh: But pushing Jennings for roster spot will be Darboh, a third-round pick in 2017 who caught eight passes as a rookie but was waived last year, landed with New England, was waived a couple of days later, returned to Seattle and spent the year on injured reserve. Now healthy, he could be back in the mix.
"Darboh looks great," Carroll said. "He's back in the fold now, so he goes back into the competition of it."
John Ursua: The seventh-round pick is a long shot to make the 53-man roster and might end up on the practice squad. But he's fast and shifty. Where a player was drafted on this team often means little. Baldwin, after all, went undrafted.
"The guys who want to work, the guys who want to be great, the guys who are going to do the extra work, the guys who at the end of the day are going to make a play and want to make the play, those are the guys are going to make it and we’re going to have a lot of great players," Wilson said. "So it’s going to come down to seeing what happens in the preseason and then sure enough it’ll be exciting thing. I know one thing, I’m excited to play quarterback here just to be able to throw it to these guys and how many guys are going to be able to get open, create separation and make plays."