Once the Seahawks figure out the most immediate questions about their future — specifically, the fates of coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson and setting the roster for the 2022 season — they will turn toward another big question about their long-term future.
Specifically, signing receiver DK Metcalf to a contract extension.
Metcalf is finishing the third season of his four-year rookie deal, and by NFL rule he can begin negotiating a new contract with the Seahawks on Monday.
But more logically — and also keeping with team precedent — is the Seahawks will try to get a new deal done with Metcalf in the spring or summer, after free agency and the draft.
That’s the template the Seahawks followed for other major players once they finished with the third year of their rookie deals, including Richard Sherman (who signed in May 2014), Wilson (July 2015), Bobby Wagner (August 2015) and Tyler Lockett (August 2018).
Of course, that doesn’t preclude something getting done earlier. But as noted, the Seahawks’ M.O. under general manager John Schneider has been to work on extensions with players under contract after getting the roster mostly set for the upcoming season.
One advantage with that approach, along with knowing exactly what the financial picture is for the upcoming season, is that the market may get set by other teams and players who sign earlier, making for a cleaner negotiation. But the danger can be that the market also goes in unexpected directions — as happened with Frank Clark in 2019 when Dallas signed DeMarcus Lawrence to a five-year, $105 million deal April 5 that significantly altered the rush-end market.
What’s clear is that the Seahawks probably will have to pay close to top of the market to keep Metcalf, who with two touchdowns Sunday at Arizona would tie the team season record of 14 set by Doug Baldwin in 2015.
What Metcalf made clear Thursday is that he hopes to stay, though he could hardly be expected to say anything else at this point.
“Of course,” Metcalf said when asked if he hopes to re-sign. “I’m not trying to leave, but we’ve got the Cardinals to focus on right now. You can hit me up later in the offseason if you need that question answered.”
What will it take to keep Metcalf, whose current four-year deal is worth $4.58 million?
Spotrac.com, a website devoted to sports finance, has estimated his contract-extension value at four years, $70.7 million, or $17.6 million a year.
That would make him the ninth-highest-paid receiver, and would be more annually than all but two other Seahawks currently under contract — Wilson at $35 million and Bobby Wagner at $18 million — and just above the $17.5 million for safety Jamal Adams.
Metcalf will heal up in the offseason after dealing with a foot injury suffered the week after the third game at Minnesota. Metcalf has practiced sparingly since, and last week he didn’t rule out surgery, saying that will be decided after the season.
“Not thinking about that right now,” he said Thursday when asked what he’ll work on in the offseason. “I’m taking this a day at a time. I’m not thinking about the offseason just yet, I’m going to take probably a month’s rest and try to recover to 100 percent before I figure out what I need to focus on.”
That injury has undoubtedly contributed to what has been a more erratic season than some might have expected — 70 receptions for 909 yards in 16 games this season compared with 83 for a team-record 1,303 in a 16-game season last year. (Sunday’s game marks a 17th regular-season contest for the first time in league history.)
Still, Metcalf’s resume is hefty — he has the most receiving yards (3,011) in a player’s first three seasons in Seahawks history.
And in the offseason, his bank account likely also will be hefty.
Neal on COVID list while Lewis and Jones come off
The Seahawks added strong safety Ryan Neal to the COVID-19 reserve list Thursday while activating left guard Damien Lewis and cornerback Sidney Jones from it.
That means three players on the 53-man roster are on the list — Neal, defensive tackle Al Woods and defensive end Alton Robinson.
Neal has started the past four games at strong safety in place of Adams.
The Seahawks could move Ugo Amadi there from the nickel corner spot and use someone else at nickel. They could also use recent practice-squad signee Josh Jones at strong safety. He has 25 starts in a five-year NFL career, including 13 last year with Jacksonville, and has played in two games this year on special teams.
They could also use Nigel Warrior there. He’s listed as a corner but played safety in college at Tennessee.
The Seahawks had a much lighter injury report Thursday, as five players who sat out Wednesday — all offensive linemen — were back to work.
That left six players sitting out, none of whom was a surprise: DE Carlos Dunlap II (ankle), TE Will Dissly (heel), LG Gabe Jackson (knee), CB John Reid (concussion), MLB Bobby Wagner (knee) and RT Brandon Shell (shoulder).
LT Duane Brown was also listed as limited as a resting vet.
Everybody else on the active roster was a full participant including Metcalf.
- Wilson wore a glove in Sunday’s game after the first series — a three-and-out in which he was 0 for 2 passing. He put on the glove, and the Seahawks scored on their next nine possessions. But Wilson indicated that the glove might be a one-time thing. “That was just for weather,” he said. “It was raining pretty hard in the first and second quarter. Once I had them on, I just kept them on.”