After the first game of the 2019 season, Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf donned a Steve Largent jersey while talking with the media. He said Largent was “the GOAT receiver in Seattle” and that he was “trying to be just like him.”
Turns out that the admiration is mutual.
From his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Largent has kept an eye on the second-year player this season. He has seen Metcalf rack up 403 receiving yards — tied for the most in the NFL — and catch three touchdown passes. He has looked on as the 22-year-old makes some of the fastest athletes in the world look downright geriatric.
Largent’s 1,287 receiving yards in 1985 is the Seahawks’ season record. But if Metcalf keeps up this pace, that mark — and plenty of others — are in serious jeopardy.
“I’ve been watching, and he is a really impressive guy,” Largent said. “The thing is, he’s only a second-year player, so the fact that he’s made mistakes shouldn’t surprise anybody. But as he matures in the league, he has the potential to just be dynamite.”
Six months ago Largent offered a more specific example regarding Metcalf’s potential. He likened the Ole Miss product to Jerry Rice, the consensus greatest receiver of all time.
It seemed like a stretch given Metcalf’s 900 receiving yards his rookie season. And perhaps juxtaposing anyone with the man the NFL Network ranked as the best football player ever is unfair. But there is little denying that between the end of last season and the start of this one, DK has morphed from serviceable to stunning.
His 25.2 yards per reception is tops in the NFL. Sometimes those yards come via a 62-yard dime from Russell Wilson, but other times they come from him catching the ball in the flat and simply juking the coverage. A quarter of the way in, Wilson is having a season for the ages. But it’s hard to think he has ever had a weapon quite like Metcalf.
“He’s the best in the world at what he does,” Wilson said of Metcalf on Thursday during a Zoom call. “He’s continued to evolve into one of the best receivers in the game. Not to be shy about it, I think he is one of the top receivers in the game. He can do it all — he can run by you, he can jump over you, he can get physical with you. … He just approaches the game the right way.”
That quote represents just a fraction of the praise Wilson heaped upon Metcalf. It’s clear the QB has grown fond of the receiver that lived with him for a month this offseason.
Game-winning touchdown catches, such as the 29-yard touchdown reception DK had against Dallas in Week 3, help fortify the bond. But in any case, Wilson and Metcalf have the potential to go down as one of NFL’s great QB-receiver tandems.
Not that it’s all been perfect. In that same game vs. the Cowboys, Metcalf celebrated a would-be touchdown catch prematurely as Dallas cornerback Trevon Diggs knocked the ball out of his hands at the 1-yard line, resulting in a touchback. Metcalf, who has had just one interaction with the media since, hasn’t been asked about the blunder, but Wilson said he told him “never do it again.”
Probably safe to assume he learned his lesson, because by all accounts DK learns about as well as anyone. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he didn’t want to overload Metcalf with information his rookie season but found out toward the end of the year that he can catch on quickly. So now there’s no route he can’t run, no aspect of the system he doesn’t know.
The result has been an All-Pro-caliber start for a 4-0 team boasting the second-most points scored in the league.
“He has dedicated himself to finding every competitive way he can to get as good as he can get,” Carroll said. “He’s just opened up the world to being a great player for us.”
Metcalf credits much of his success to working with Wilson over the offseason. He said “it was just a good experience being around a future Hall of Famer” and added that he was “just trying to soak up all the knowledge.” Clearly, it was beneficial.
Sometimes hot starts are simply that — they fade away with the buzz and hype and everything that goes with them. But something feels different with DK. This feels like it’s going to last. This feels like, maybe, a generation from now, a young Seahawks receiver will be rocking his jersey talking about a Seattle GOAT.