RENTON — All’s quiet between DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown. They haven’t had much to say to each other lately, and neither had much to say to the media Wednesday about their first NFL matchup.
“Not too much smack talk going on this week,” Metcalf said. “Just best of luck to him this week.”
They are two of the most exciting young receivers in the NFL, and Metcalf and Brown were one-time roommates and teammates at Ole Miss. They were rivals in high school — Brown’s team won two of the three meetings — and on Sunday they’ll face off as NFL rivals when Brown’s Titans come to Lumen Field to play Metcalf and the Seahawks.
When asked about Metcalf on Wednesday, Brown paused for 15 seconds before offering a short, nondescript answer.
“I’m excited for the matchup,” Brown told reporters in Nashville. “Of course we pushed each other in college. So I’m just looking forward to the game.”
They’ve been close friends since first playing together at a high-school all-star game. They grew closer in college, to the point that they’ve described each other as like a brother.
When Metcalf’s college career ended with a frightening neck injury in October 2018, Brown was there in the hospital room when Metcalf woke up from his initial surgery.
“When they told us he was hurt and out for the year, I went to the hospital with him and it just crumbled me,” Brown told ESPN for a 2020 story. “I felt like it happened to me. Man, it definitely brought us closer. We were already close, but after that, it just went to a whole different level.”
“I looked over and he was crying,” Metcalf told ESPN. “For him to put himself in my shoes and feel my emotion at that time, you couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Both receivers fell into the second round of the 2019 draft, and Pete Carroll said Wednesday that the Seahawks had scouted Brown closely during the draft process. The Titans finally took Brown with the 51st pick, and the Seahawks traded up to take Metcalf at No. 64.
They both went on to earn their first Pro Bowl nods last year. Brown had 70 catches for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2020, and Metcalf set a Seahawks receiving record with 1,303 yards and 10 TDs.
“We really haven’t communicated this too much this season,” Metcalf said Wednesday, “but you know it’s always love between us.”
The Seahawks’ defense will also have to contend with another star receiver, Julio Jones, who had a lackluster debut with the Titans in a 38-13 loss to Arizona on Sunday.
“They’re incredible players — they’re both (Brown and Jones) great players,” Carroll said. “They’re both physical factors. A.J. is really strong and plays really tough; (he) makes all the plays, makes spectacular plays, catch and run.
“Julio is, like, as good as you can get. So that’s a fantastic 1-2 punch. It doesn’t matter who’s 1, who’s 2 — doesn’t matter. They’re really, really good.”
Retiring No. 54? Not just yet
When the NFL this offseason loosened restrictions on what jersey numbers players could wear, Bobby Wagner immediately considered switching to the No. 9 uniform he wore at Utah State.
Then he read the NFL’s new fine print.
If a player elected to change jersey numbers this year, the caveat was he would have to buy out the existing inventory from distributors of his old jersey number. And that, Wagner acknowledged Wednesday, would have been a costly endeavor for him considering how popular his No. 54 jersey has been among Seahawks fans over the past decade.
“I wanted to go to 9,” he said, “until they told me how much I would’ve had to pay for my inventory. And I said, you know what, I’m gonna stay where I’m at — and hopefully retire 54.”
The Seahawks have retired four numbers for players — Steve Largent (80), Cortez Kennedy (96), Walter Jones (71) and Kenny Easley (45). All four played their entire careers with the Seahawks and ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Wagner, who had 13 tackles in Sunday’s win over the Colts to kick off his 10th season with the Seahawks, appears very much on track to join them.
Under previous NFL rules, only QBs, kickers and punters could wear a single-digit number. Now running backs, tight ends, fullbacks, wide receivers and linebackers can also wear single-digit numbers.
A few Seahawks players did take advantage of the rule change this offseason. Safety Quandre Diggs is now No. 6; cornerback D.J. Reed is No. 2; and veteran edge rushers Carlos Dunlap (8) and Benson Mayowa (10) took top-10 jersey numbers.