RENTON — While speculation about DK Metcalf’s future lingered in national NFL circles throughout the offseason, the Seahawks expressed confidence at every turn that a deal would eventually get done.
Those expectations came true Thursday as Metcalf agreed to a three-year, $72 million deal with the Seahawks that includes a few record-breaking numbers for receivers that will keep him in Seattle through the 2025 season.
A league source confirmed the deal to The Seattle Times. It was first reported by ESPN and the NFL Network, which each reported that the contract includes a $30 million signing bonus — the highest ever for a receiver — and $58.2 million guaranteed overall. Coupled with the money left on Metcalf’s current deal, it works out to a four-year contract worth just over $76 million overall.
The record signing bonus likely helped get the two sides over the finish line to get the deal completed with Metcalf.
Also a factor is that the contract is for just three years instead of four, which has been the typically desired length for Seattle’s extensions with its most significant free agents, especially those finishing rookie deals, as is Metcalf. He was due to make $3.9 million in 2022 on the final season of his initial four-year rookie contract.
But the shorter length may have been a concession to Metcalf, allowing him to become a free agent when he’s 28 and potentially hit the market again at a young age with the salary cap projected to increase markedly in coming years.
The signing bonus tops the previous receiver record of $28 million that Washington gave Terry McLaurin last month. McLaurin signed a three-year deal worth up to $69.6 million with $53.1 million fully guaranteed and some close to the situation had speculated that contract could be a template for what the Seahawks would end up giving Metcalf.
And as revealed by Pro Football Talk, the $31 million first-year cash flow is also a record for a receiver.
The $24 million average of the extension will make Metcalf tied for the sixth-highest paid receiver in the NFL, according to OvertheCap.com while the total guarantee is seventh.
Along with the record signing bonus, the total guarantee also places him right above the $56 million of Eagles receiver A.J. Brown, a teammate of Metcalf’s at Ole Miss and a contract that Metcalf and his agent Tory Dandy — who also represents Brown — likely wanted to try to top in at least one number (Brown signed a four-year, $100 million deal overall).
The “new money” average of $24 million also makes Metcalf the highest-paid player on the team in terms of average per year ahead of the $17.5 million of safety Jamal Adams, and second in team history behind only the $35 million of Russell Wilson’s last contract with the team.
Metcalf reported for training camp on Tuesday and attended each of the first two days of practice this week but did not take part on the field, a so-called “hold in,” while his contract was being completed.
Coach Pete Carroll spoke optimistically on Wednesday of the deal getting finished soon saying “there’s a lot of work being done like right now.”
And while some in the industry viewed aspects of the contract as favorable to Metcalf in terms of the record guarantee and the years, the deal allows Seattle to lock up its biggest young star during a time of significant transition for the franchise following an offseason in which the Seahawks traded Wilson and released middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Those two moves have fed the idea that the Seahawks are rebuilding and caused some to wonder if the team could consider trading Metcalf, especially with salaries for receivers skyrocketing this offseason — Metcalf will become the 10th receiver to sign a deal worth at least $20 million or more this year — or if Metcalf would want to stay with a team whose quarterback future is uncertain.
But the Seahawks said all along that keeping Metcalf was a priority — something that getting through the draft with Metcalf still on the roster validated. Carroll several times noted the team’s success in getting contracts done with those it considers core players.
The timing also is right in line with the team’s history of getting contracts done with key players in the opening days of camp, such as Wilson in 2015, Wagner in 2015 and 2019 and safety Jamal Adams last year.
The Seahawks can now add Metcalf to that list while also completing what was the last significant piece of unfinished business for the offseason.
Metcalf has played all 49 regular-season games in his three-year Seattle career in which he has already established himself as one of the best receivers in team history. His 3,170 receiving yards are the most for any player in the first three years of a career in franchise history, and he set a franchise single-season record with 1,303 yards in 2020, a year in which he was also named to the Pro Bowl and as a second-team All-Pro.
The Seahawks and Metcalf had been in talks throughout the offseason on a new contract. Metcalf made something of a statement, however, when he skipped the team’s mandatory minicamp in the spring. But as Carroll noted at the time, he also would not likely have done much on the field then, if anything, as he was still rehabbing from foot surgery in January. Metcalf injured his foot in practice following the third game of last season but played through it the rest of the year.
Metcalf is now healthy, though, with Carroll saying this week that Metcalf had passed his physical and that “he’s fine.”
That means Metcalf will likely be on the field when the Seahawks practice again on Saturday (they are holding only a walk-through on Friday that is not among the team’s workouts open to the public).
While “holding in” the first two days of training camp, Metcalf watched practice from the sidelines, or often on the field behind the offense, chatting with his fellow receivers and coaches.
As Thursday’s practice ended, he stopped to sign autographs for a while. Soon, he will sign a contract that assures he will be a centerpiece of Seattle’s offense for at least four more years.
It’s thought that the two sides had tentatively agreed a while ago on the basic parameters of the contract — years and total money — with the total guarantees and timing of payouts of guarantees and bonuses the significant hurdles to cross.
The contract caps what has been a somewhat meteoric rise up the NFL’s receiving ladder for Metcalf in his first three years in the league. Metcalf fell to the final spot of the second round of the 2019 draft, 64th overall, due in part to concerns about a neck injury that limited him to just seven games during his final season at Ole Miss in 2018. There were also questions about Metcalf’s ability to do more than be simply a straight-line, deep-ball receiver.
Seattle famously pulled off a draft-day trade with New England to get him, giving up the 118th pick to move 13 spots to get him.
The Seahawks’ hunch on Metcalf having been proven right, they are now happily paying handsomely to keep him.