Baldwin always has relied on his mind more than his pure athletic talent. He is a quick receiver and shifty, but where he excels — where he has to excel — is with his understanding of the game and the players covering him.

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Five years ago, after he didn’t hear his name called during the NFL draft, Doug Baldwin’s phone rang. It was his old friend and college teammate, Richard Sherman, telling Baldwin to sign with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent.

“They’re going to call you,” Sherman told Baldwin. “I want you to be here.”

Then the conversation turned philosophical. Baldwin and Sherman have never lacked ambition or passion, and both clearly have staked their desire for greatness.

On the phone that day after the 2011 draft — Sherman went in the fifth round, Baldwin didn’t get drafted — they talked about their football destiny and all that was headed their way.

“We made a promise to each other that nothing was going to change,” Baldwin said. “We knew the money was going to come. We knew the game was going to come. All that (stuff) was going to come. But if we kept our goals on what we set before we even stepped in the league, nothing was going to change.”

It’s what the Seahawks are banking on after signing Baldwin to a four-year extension worth $46 million, including $24 million guaranteed. It puts Baldwin among the NFL’s highest-paid receivers and continues his rise from an undrafted free agent five years ago to the Seahawks’ No. 1 receiver.

Baldwin is coming off a career season. He finished with more than 1,000 yards receiving, the first Seahawk to do that in nearly a decade. He had 14 touchdown catches, tied for the most in the league. In the second half of the season, he and quarterback Russell Wilson were one of the NFL’s most efficient and lethal combinations.

With Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett all under contract for the next few seasons, the Seahawks have given Wilson a talented core that understands his unique skill set.

Baldwin always has relied on his mind more than his pure athletic talent. He is a quick receiver and shifty, but where he excels — where he has to excel — is with his understanding of the game and the players covering him.

He spends hours watching film, just to pick up how a cornerback positions his feet when he’s dropping into zone coverage compared with when he’s playing man to man.

A few summers ago, he and teammate Bryan Walters were watching film of old practices. Baldwin could point out coverages, could say exactly what went right or wrong, before the snap of the ball.

“I want to know what coverage it is every single time,” he said a few years ago. “I want to line up and be able to read what the defense is trying to do to me so I can get open. And that’s what separates guys at this level.”

He has been obsessive about his career ambitions, to the point of sacrificing much in his personal life. He keeps few close friends and openly admits that football usually comes first.

“I’m not the fastest, the strongest, the most athletic, the tallest,” he says. “But in order for me to be good at what I do, I have to focus on my craft so much that it alleviates those other things. I can’t have personal relationships like other people do. I can’t spend time on that.”

Just a few months ago, coach Pete Carroll introduced Baldwin to a screaming crowd by calling him “one of my favorite competitors we’ve ever had with the Seahawks.”

As a receiver, Baldwin is lethal with his releases — the moment a receiver tries to shake free from a defender. Baldwin loves playing basketball, and when he was younger, he dreamed of playing in the NBA. He uses basketball tricks — crossovers, stutter steps, hesitation — to throw off defensive backs.

“Actually, sometimes he gets them too bad and gets in trouble,” Walters said a few years ago. “Because he has to go back to where he just came form. But his releases are so good.”

The progression for Baldwin has been just as much mental as physical. He earned the nickname “Angry Doug Baldwin,” which came to stand for his passion, outbursts and edge. But sometimes the nickname hit on parts of his competitiveness that Baldwin was trying to corral.

“I still get pissed off at myself, but it’s more in a constructive way,” Baldwin said two years ago. “For instance, if I drop a ball now, it’s like, ‘(Shoot), Doug, look the ball in.’ I still get mad at myself. But then I can go back and think: ‘My hands weren’t in the right place. I need to do this.’ I’m not just getting mad at myself. I’m also telling myself how to correct it.”

Assuming tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Thomas Rawls return healthy, the Seahawks have all the skill pieces to form a dynamic offense. (The offensive line remains another story.)

It was always assumed the Seahawks would reach a deal with Baldwin before the season and keep that core intact for at least another season or two. Now it’s official, and Baldwin has the contract and status he always anticipated would come his way.