The Seahawks' receiving corps had a breakthrough season of its own in 2015 led by Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse.
If 2015 is remembered as the season Russell Wilson proved he could be a drop-back passer, then it also was a season in which the Seahawks’ receiving corps proved a few things as well.
Simply put, the receiving corps — bolstered by the addition of dynamic rookie Tyler Lockett — further distanced itself from the famous (or infamous?) tag of pedestrian once tagged to it by a national NFL writer.
Along with all the yards and touchdowns that allowed Wilson to set team records in each category, consider this stat — the Seahawks dropped just 12 of 472 passes this season, the second-lowest percentage in the NFL at 2.5 percent. (Baltimore was lowest with 15 of 668, 2.2 percent.)
As we continue our daily breakdown of the Seahawks’ position groups, here’s a closer look at the wide receivers:
Starters: Doug Baldwin
Snaps played: 797 (of 1,079).
Contract situation: Signed through 2016. 78 receptions for 1,069 yards (13.7 average), 14 TDs.
2015 stats: 78 receptions for 1,069 yards (13.7 average), 14 TDs.
Snaps played: 770.
Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent.
2015 stats: 49 receptions for 685 yards (14.0 average), 5 TDs.
Snaps played: 663.
Contract situation: Signed through 2018.
2015 Seahawks stats: 51 receptions for 664 yards (13.0 average), 6 TDs.
Backups: Kevin Smith
Snaps played: 189.
Contract situation: Signed through 2016.
2015 stats: 3 receptions, 43 yards (14.3 average), 0 TDs.
Snaps played: 28.
Contract situation: Signed through 2016.
2015 stats: 1 reception for 8 yards (8.0 average), 0 TDs.
Snaps played: 6
Contract situation: Signed through 2017.
2015 stats: 1 reception for 40 yards (40.0 average), 0 TDs.
The Seahawks began the season hoping they would have one of their deepest receiving groups in their history. It ended with them playing essentially a three-man receiving corps — Baldwin, Kearse and Lockett had 178 of the team’s 333 receptions.
Along the way came an injury to tight end Jimmy Graham that forced more reliance on the top three wideouts, another injury to Paul Richardson (the team’s top pick in the 2014 draft who played just one half of one game) and the flameout of Chris Matthews, who could not recapture the success of the Super Bowl and was released in November.
Baldwin finished with one of the greatest seasons in Seahawks receiving history. He was the first receiver since Bobby Engram in 2007 to top 1,000 yards and set a franchise record with 14 touchdowns. He had 10 touchdowns during a four-game stretch that was as prolific as any in NFL receiving history.
Lockett’s production wasn’t necessarily a surprise. But certainly he delivered everything the team could have hoped for as a receiver, particularly down the stretch — 30 of his 51 receptions came in the final seven games.
Kearse endured a midseason slump (11 catches in a seven-game stretch) but caught 20 passes in the last four games and 14 more in the playoffs, including a career-high 11 in the loss to Carolina.
But take out tight ends and running backs, and no other Seahawks receiver caught more than four passes this season (Matthews and Ricardo Lockette, who was injured Nov. 1 against Dallas, each had that many).
Former UW standouts Smith and Williams were added to the 53-man roster late in the season and showed promise on offense and special teams.
Grade: A-minus. The Seahawks’ receivers proved up to the task when the team needed to adjust its offense to more of a quick passing game in the second half of the season.
The biggest immediate question is the future of Kearse, an unrestricted free agent who said this week that he won’t take a hometown discount.
This year’s free-agent class is not considered strong, so Kearse could receive some decent offers. What the Seahawks decide to do then would depend on their confidence in Richardson to get, and stay, healthy after he suffered a hamstring injury this year in his first game back after recovering from a knee injury suffered the previous January. Richardson ended the season on Injured Reserve.
Baldwin has one year left on his contract and is due to make $4 million in 2016. But after finishing tied for the NFL lead in touchdowns, Baldwin can rightly say he deserves more, and the team might have to consider giving him an extension. The $4.33 million per-year average on his current deal, which includes bonuses, ranked 36th among receivers this season.
Lockette also is an unrestricted free agent, but his football future is unclear after his neck injury at Dallas.
If Kearse isn’t re-signed, the Seahawks could add a receiver in the draft or via free agency. But having tight ends such as Graham and Luke Willson, who both often line up as wideouts, allows the Seahawks to get by with fewer receivers than some teams on their 53-man roster.
Up next: Offensive line.