Being a member of the Seahawks also means being about as high-profile a representative of the city of Seattle as is possible.
But the unprecedented times created by the novel coronavirus is making for some unique circumstances.
And among those is that one of the team’s significant offseason acquisitions — veteran free agent receiver Phillip Dorsett — has yet to step foot in Seattle.
“Honestly, I’ve never been,’’ Dorsett said Tuesday during a Zoom conference call with Seattle media, initially continuing to say he’d never been to the Pacific Northwest before stopping and asking if that’s the proper term.
Dorsett signed with the Seahawks as a free agent without taking a visit as the NFL banned all travel the week free agents could begin signing.
He’d thought about signing with the Seahawks in 2019 but said that was all done “by word-of-mouth’’ and he never took a trip then, either, though he wishes he’d signed with Seattle a year ago, saying “I didn’t want to make that mistake again” as part of why he signed on this year.
And in his five previous NFL seasons with the Colts and Patriots, neither team played at CenturyLink Field.
But while he’s now finally, happily a Seahawks, restrictions due to the novel coronavirus means Dorsett is getting to know his new teammates and coaches for only way he can — through virtual Zoom meetings.
Dorsett is currently spending his days in his native Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and like the rest of the Seahawks, signs in for meetings four days a week at 10 a.m. — only, it’s 1 p.m. for him.
“Hearing 10 a.m. Pacific time knowing that’s one o’clock for me is different,’’ Dorsett said.
The Seahawks are in their third week of their three-week “phase one’’ of the NFL’s offseason program.
Teams are allowed to have two hours of classroom time four days a week, with two more hours of workout time allowed four days a week.
The two hours of meeting time typically begins with a short team meeting before breaking into position group meetings in which coaches go through the playbook and other such items.
As Peter King detailed in his Football Morning in America column this week, one recent offensive meeting featured the camera solely focused on quarterback Russell Wilson detailing each of his “nonverbal signals and gyrations.’’ That’s the kind of offseason learning especially critical for a newcomer such as Dorsett.
“Everything is virtual,’’ Dorsett said. “Everything is online. It’s tough. But at the end of the day, you just do what you can do. Control what you can control, and make the best of it.’’
Seattle’s three weeks of phase one runs out after this week.
What the NFL does next with its offseason program is a little unclear.
Typically, teams begin doing work on the field in phases two and three, workouts spread out over the rest of May and into June — first, in separates (meaning, the offense works as a unit, the defense works as a unit) and then concluding with OTAs, or organized team activities, and minicamp, when the entire team can work on the field together.
ESPN reported last week that if some of the physical distancing rules relaxed around the country the league could allow for some on-field work before the time period when the offseason program is due to end June 26.
If not — and on-field work any time over the next six weeks seems increasingly unlikely — teams will continue to hold meetings virtually.
Dorsett, at least, became a Seahawk already holding some decent familiarity with the offense.
He was a first-round pick of the Colts in 2015, and in 2016, current Seattle offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer came on as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Dorsett was traded to the Patriots in September 2017, but he spent that offseason and training camp with the Colts working under receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who was hired this offseason by the Seahawks as a senior offensive assistant.
“I was familiar with a lot of the guys on the staff and I felt like this was the right offense for me,’’ said Dorsett, who signed a one-year contract for the veteran salary benefit — a new aspect of the collective-bargaining agreement approved in March — which means he can make up to $1.04 million while counting $887,500 against the salary cap.
What he specifically likes about the offense is Wilson and his ability to throw deep.
Dorsett was taken 29th overall in the 2015 draft with speed as his primary calling card. He ran a 4.33 40 at the combine that year, the third-fastest of any player.
But he has yet to produce quite to what people expected with a best season of 33 receptions for 528 yards and two touchdowns in 2016 with the Colts.
He had a combined 73 receptions for 881 yards and eight touchdowns in 45 games with the Patriots the last three years in a system that places more of an emphasis on a short passing game — while Seattle averaged 7.6 yards per pass last year, sixth-best in the NFL, the Patriots averaged 6.3, 19th.
Dorsett and the Seahawks each hope Seattle’s offense will make better use of Dorsett’s speed and potentially allow him to become a consistent third threat after Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. That was something the team struggled to find last year, with Jaron Brown, David Moore, Josh Gordon and Malik Turner all getting their shots at the third receiver spot and unable to hold onto it for varying reasons.
Dorsett calls himself a football junkie and said he’s watched tons of film of Wilson through the years and says “the way he plays quarterback fits my skill set.’’
Dorsett calls his time in New England “a great experience,’’ noting he got to go to two Super Bowls and win one (he had a touchdown catch in the memorable AFC title game win over Kansas City following the 2018 season).
“I was just ready for the next step,’’ he said.
Someday soon, he hopes, he can literally take that next step into the city that is his new professional home.