The latest injury news about Doug Baldwin — a sports hernia surgery set for April that may mean he is not available until training camp — would seem to only underscore the potential need for Seattle to add a receiver.
The surgery will be Baldwin’s third of the offseason. He turns 31 in September, and the surgery raises the question of if he can ever again reach the kind of form as he did in 2015, when he set a team record with 14 touchdown receptions.
But even with Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, some wondered if Seattle wasn’t in need of a new face or two to compete as the team’s third receiver, preferably a bigger target.
And the Seahawks have done some looking — they brought in 33-year-old Jordy Nelson for a visit last week. But Nelson announced Wednesday he is retiring, ruling that out (and also maybe indicating the offers he got from Seattle and others weren’t aggressive enough to make him want to keep playing).
There is also the draft April 25-27 to add a rookie.
But in comments at the NFL league meetings Tuesday and on a radio interview on 710 ESPN Seattle, coach Pete Carroll indicated the team may have the answers it needs to answer any questions about the receiving corps from within.
Two are obvious candidates — third-year player David Moore and veteran Jaron Brown, who had the third- and fourth-most receptions of any receivers on the roster last year after Lockett and Baldwin.
Another is a somewhat forgotten man — Amara Darboh, who, like Moore, was taken in the 2017 draft.
Moore emerged as the team’s No. 3 receiver last season after veteran Brandon Marshall was released and finished with 26 catches for 445 yards. But Moore didn’t do much down the stretch with four receptions for 32 yards and no touchdowns over the last five games.
But if anyone is concerned that maybe that showed opponents had caught on to how to defend Moore — who did much of his damage on fade and go routes when in man coverage — Carroll isn’t.
“It was just a matter of consistency, really,’’ Carroll said of Moore at the league meetings. “David showed plenty of stuff, and we’re really excited about him. Quite often it takes young receivers into their third year before they really settle in and I’m hoping that’s the case (with Moore). David’s got marvelous talent, he’s a terrific competitor, we love the kid, but he just was inconsistent, and that causes him to keep out of the limelight a little bit. But he showed he can really contribute, so we’re called upon to figure part of it out for him. I think it’s just a natural transition for him to get better. We’re not going to ask him to do a lot of stuff that is different, so it will be a lot of repetition and we’re just going to count on him to be the kind of playmaker that he has been.”
Brown signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract with the Seahawks a year ago as a free agent, but turned in a season far off his final year in Arizona in 2017 with 14 receptions for 166 yards. He had 31 for 477 in 2017, though he did have five touchdowns for Seattle in 2018.
That Seattle could save $2.75 million against the salary cap by releasing him has led to speculation he could be on the roster bubble — and he may well have to earn a spot in training camp.
But Carroll seemed to quash any notion the team would make that move now to make way for someone else during his radio interview when he said he retains high hopes for what Brown can do in Seattle.
“Jaron Brown is a really good player that we look back and we could’ve used him a lot more,’’ Carroll said. “He did a lot of things for us. He blocked well, and fit into a lot of stuff, scored five touchdowns on a limited amount of catches. So we know we can go to him, he’s a real pro and so we’re anxious to see him develop more.”
Then there’s Darboh, who it may be easy for some fans to forget is even still around.
A third-round pick in 2017 out of Michigan, he played in all 16 games as a rookie but had just eight catches for 71 yards.
He then didn’t play in the 2018 preseason due to several injuries and was then waived in the cut down to 53 and claimed by New England.
He failed a physical there, though, and then reverted back to Seattle’s injured reserve, eventually having surgery to repair a clavicle injury that was among the injuries that hampered him in the preseason.
But he’ll be ready for this season, and Carroll said that in a way, getting back Darboh is basically the same as adding a receiver somewhere else.
“He was a prospect that had a chance to do a lot of cool stuff,’’ Carroll said. “Just the way it happened (for him to return to Seattle) was unusual. But the fact that he’s back, it’s like getting another guy back. So we’re very fortunate. Big strong kid, played really hard, worked hard, did his stuff. So it’s a good deal.’’
As the Marshall signing last May shows, Seattle is always looking — and the Seahawks may also just be waiting for the draft.
The Seahawks could also turn to an old face if they want — Jermaine Kearse — who is a free agent after playing the last two years with the Jets after playing five seasons in Seattle. Kearse said in an interview on KJR-AM last week that he’d love to play for the Seahawks again.
Asked about Kearse on Tuesday, though, Carroll spoke vaguely about that possibility.
“Jermaine was a good guy in our program,’’ Carroll said. “I know that he had a really good year two years ago (65 receptions for 810 yards in 2017) and I know that he was not quite as productive this year (37 for 371 in 2018). But he’s always been a guy that we like.’’
But as the Seahawks showed throughout the free-agent signing period, signing just two players from the outside since it began two weeks ago (kicker Jason Myers, guard Mike Iupati), Seattle may think it is just fine with what it has.