Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett, who could have been a free agent after the 2021 season, isn’t going anywhere for a while.
Lockett and the Seahawks have agreed to a four-year extension worth up to $69.2 million that includes $37 million guaranteed, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. A source confirmed the deal to The Seattle Times.
Lockett, 28, had one year remaining on his contract and was due to make a base salary of $11 million in 2021 with a cap hit of $14.95 million that was the third largest on the team behind quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner.
While more specific details of the contract were not immediately available, it’s likely the contract is structured in a way to bring down the cap number for 2021. An ESPN report stated the cap number for 2021 will likely be in the $7 million range and that the contract is a true four-year extension without the void years that have become popular this year, meaning Lockett is now under contract through the 2025 season.
A third-round pick in 2015, Lockett has topped the 1,000-yard mark in receiving each of the past two seasons and last year set a team record with 100 receptions in a season, breaking the old mark of 94 by Doug Baldwin and Bobby Engram.
The contract also is the first step toward keeping a receiving duo that is one of the best in the NFL intact — something that will likely please Russell Wilson. Wilson had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in 2018 when targeting Lockett. Wilson signaled his approval of the deal with a tweet Wednesday morning stating: “The homie!!! @TDLockett12 Let’s go!!! You deserve it all! Love you bro!”
DK Metcalf, who teamed with Lockett to top the 1,000-yard mark last season — only the second time in Seattle history two receivers had more than 1,000 yards each in the same year — is entering the third year of his rookie contract in 2021. Via NFL rules on rookie contracts, that means Metcalf will be eligible for a new contract following this season.
Sewing up Lockett now helps answer one key question about Seattle’s future while also rewarding a player who has been one of the team’s most consistent and productive the past six seasons.
Lockett signed his previous three-year deal, worth up to $31.8 million with $11 million guaranteed, in August of 2018.
Now, Seattle can turn its attention to another key player who can be a free agent following the 2021 season — safety Jamal Adams.
Adams, acquired for two first-round picks last summer, has one year left on his contract and is due to make $9.86 million in 2021. It’s expected the Seahawks will try to extend Adams at some point this offseason.
But Seattle still has some other work to do for the 2021 season, and freeing up some cap space by redoing Lockett’s deal was undoubtedly a factor in why he got his extension now — the Seahawks haven’t typically done extensions this early in the offseason.
Among the team’s free agents who remain unsigned are linebacker K.J. Wright and cornerback Quinton Dunbar. Wright has been reported to be in talks with the Dallas Cowboys, but the Seahawks are keeping tabs on him. Dunbar was reported by the NFL Network Tuesday to have visits set up next week to Arizona and Detroit, but he also remains firmly on Seattle’s radar.
Redoing Lockett’s deal marked the second time in two days it was revealed the Seahawks had taken a significant step to free up some immediate cap space. The other came Tuesday with guard Gabe Jackson agreeing to a new deal running through the 2023 season that dropped his 2021 cap hit from $9.6 million to $4.075 million. If Lockett’s deal indeed drops his cap hit to around $7 million, then Seattle cleared out about $13.5 million with the two new contracts.
Seattle needed the room not only to try to make a few more moves but also simply to fit in some of its other contracts.
It is unclear whether Seattle has any more cap-cutting moves on the horizon. There had been speculation the Seahawks might restructure deals for Wilson and/or Wagner, moving some of their substantial cap hits ($32 million and $17.5 million, respectively).
But doing so would also create big dead money hits for each player in future years, potentially limiting Seattle’s ability to make moves with either after this year, if desired.
Being creative to clear out cap space has been more of a priority this year with the cap down to $182.5 million from last year’s $198.2 million due to COVID-19-related losses in league-wide revenue.
The Seahawks also entered the free agent signing period with little room to spare. Taking into account Jackson’s new contract, OvertheCap.com listed the Seahawks with $3.7 million in cap space as of Wednesday afternoon. That, however, does not include the contract of Carlos Dunlap, who signed a two-year deal listed as worth up to $16.6 million earlier this week. The cap room created by the move with Lockett, though, should be more than enough to cover Dunlap’s deal and leave Seattle with some money to spare.