The wide receiver had a breakout season in Seattle in 2015, but is he really as good as his numbers last suggest? With a three-year $13 million contract in its final year, the Seahawks must decide.
Doug Baldwin says that there is nothing to figure out.
The scrub-turned-star receiver is confident his contract situation with the Seahawks will resolve itself sans contention or complication.
Such a scenario would be nice for both sides, and it is certainly possible that will be the case. But let’s be honest for a second: When it comes to Baldwin, there is still plenty to figure out.
Doug Baldwin file
Position: Wide receiver.
Age: 27 (born Sept. 21, 1988)
Height: 5 feet 10
Weight: 189 pounds
Acquired: Undrafted free agent
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent after next season.
Did you know? Baldwin answers fans’ questions and interviews other players on “Fresh Files” on YouTube.
Questions surround the 27-year-old as he prepares for his sixth NFL season — some of which will be answered soon, some of which won’t be for another year or two. But in regards to Seattle structuring a new deal for him, the most pressing question is this:
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Is he really as good as last year’s numbers suggest?
Since coming into the NFL as an undrafted free agent, Baldwin has played 78 regular-season games. The first 70 of those ranged from so-so to solid, but the last eight were nothing shy of spectacular.
After the bye week, Baldwin tallied 47 receptions worth 724 yards and a ridiculous 12 touchdown catches. His 14 TD grabs for the season — nine more than his previous best — placed him in a tie for first in the NFL.
Had he done all that in the first half of the year, he would have been a lock for a lei instead of getting snubbed from the Pro Bowl. Regardless, it was clear that Doug had an awesome year.
But is he an awesome player?
This is an interesting dilemma for the Seahawks, who may soon offer Baldwin an extension on the three-year, $13 million contract that runs through the end of the season. The front office can’t overreact to a hot stretch punctuating five years of data, but it can’t ignore it, either.
Remember, Seattle barely threw the ball before the second half of last year, so there really wasn’t a whole lot for Baldwin to catch. However, when Russell Wilson emerged as an A-list pocket passer, Doug became his right- and left-hand man.
This is where the educated guesswork comes in for the Seahawks. Maybe Baldwin is Chase Headley — the New York Yankee whose 10 years of mediocrity bookend an MVP-caliber second half in 2012. Or maybe he is Steph Curry — whose breakout season at 27 paled in comparison to the historic one he had at 28. That’s where the next question comes in: How much should the Seahawks pay Baldwin?
Chargers receiver Keenan Allen just signed a four-year, $45 million extension that includes $20 million guaranteed and a $9.5 million signing bonus. Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns just signed a four-year, $40 million contract that also has $20 million guaranteed.
Neither of those guys has had a season like the one Baldwin had last year, but each is three years younger and teeming with potential. So what do you take from that if you’re Seattle?
Even if Baldwin over-performed last year, it’s hard to imagine Allen — who has just 16 TD catches in his three-year career — will have a better 2017. But it is easy to imagine Allen and Hurns having better seasons in 2019, when Baldwin will be 31.
Contracts are based on projections, not achievements, and the Seahawks would be suckers to overpay someone as a means of saying thanks. Which leads to what may be the most important question of all: How will Baldwin respond if he gets paid less than what he thinks he is worth?
It’s easy to be team-first and rah-rah before you feel like you like you got hosed. Before his me-first holdout, safety Kam Chancellor was the heartbeat of the Hawks’ locker room.
Yes, Baldwin has said and done all the right things so far, but don’t forget — this is “Angry Doug,” the man who took personal offense to Deion Sanders and Cris Carter slighting his skills. And those were just words. Money can incite much stronger feelings of disrespect.
Of course, these are all just talking points right now. Given the production he gave the Seahawks and the adoration the Seahawks give him, Baldwin probably deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Just know that there is still lots to figure out about this man. And lots we’re going to find out about him, too.