RENTON — Maybe it was as simple as this.
“I didn’t want to move,’’ DK Metcalf said during a news conference Friday to announce his three-year contract extension that keeps him with the Seahawks through 2025. “Moving is stressful for me.”
OK, so the $72 million overall extension, and possible $76 million he can make through 2025, were surely a factor, as undoubtedly was the $30 million signing bonus, the highest for a receiver in NFL history.
But 24-year-old Metcalf, who grew up in Oxford, Mississippi, and attended college at Ole Miss, said Seattle has become his second home since being drafted in 2019.
“It was going to be here,” Metcalf said of his goal as the Seahawks and his representatives negotiated his contract the past few months. “As much as I bluffed to [Seahawks general manager] John [Schneider], I wanted to be here. I wanted to play here.”
Not everyone around the league seemed to believe that during an offseason of change for the Seahawks that included the trade of quarterback Russell Wilson and release of linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Would the Seahawks go full-rebuild mode and trade Metcalf before having to pay him big money? Would Metcalf want to enter the prime years of his career with a team that has gone from a Hall of Famer to uncertainty at QB, the game’s most important position?
But as much as Metcalf wanted to stay, the Seahawks wanted to keep him.
“We knew he was a guy who was going to be here, had to have here for a long time in order to provide for the 12s a championship team,” Schneider said.
So at the NFL combine in Indianapolis in February, as trade talks with Denver about Wilson got serious, Schneider began talking to Metcalf’s agent, Tory Dandy, about an extension.
“It’s a long process,” Schneider said. “A process that started in Indy. It took a while.’’
Indeed, some wondered what was taking so long as receiver salaries throughout the NFL escalated during the offseason.
Coach Pete Carroll said the team hoped it would have been done by the start of training camp this week.
Metcalf made a statement about his urgency to get the deal completed when he skipped the team’s mandatory minicamp in June, something that could subject him to fines of more than $93,000 (teams do not have to enforce fines for missing minicamp).
“Like John said, it was stressful,” Metcalf said. “But at the end of the day you’ve got to know your worth and know that something’s going to get done.”
Helping him remain steady through that process was his father, Terrence, an offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears from 2002-08 who understands the business, having signed a six-year, $12.5 million deal in 2006.
Metcalf said staying away in June wasn’t easy.
“I mean, I did call some on [teammate] Freddie [Swain], and he told me about practice, and I get to watch it,” he said. “And I want to be out there with them, practicing.”
Metcalf likely wouldn’t have done much on the field then, as he was rehabbing from January foot surgery. He said Friday his foot is healed.
Metcalf also had to watch the first two days of camp as he held a “hold in” — reporting for camp but not talking part in on-field drills.
“I definitely wanted to be out there,” Metcalf said.
He will be out there Saturday, the team’s next full practice, now anointed as a leader and face of the franchise as it negotiates the post-Wilson/Wagner era. And maybe it was fitting that a day after the team celebrated the retirement of one legendary player from Mississippi — linebacker K.J. Wright — it assured that another Mississippi native can also establish himself as a fully legendary Seahawk.
It took some give and take to get the deal done.
The Seahawks typically have signed core players to extensions of four years, which not only assures they stay a year longer but also eases the early salary-cap hits more by allowing signing bonuses to be spread out over one more year. Metcalf’s cap hit for 2022 went from $4.3 million to $8.8 million, according to OvertheCap.com, leaving the Seahawks with just over $13 million in cap space available for the rest of the year. He has cap hits of $13.7 million, $24.5 million and $29.5 million for seasons 2023, 2024 and 2025.
Metcalf has no guaranteed salary beyond this year (it will become guaranteed in February of the next two years), allowing the Seahawks to stick to a long-held precedent.
The three-year deal means Metcalf can become an unrestricted free agent following the 2025 season, when he would be 28, something his representatives surely sought. Maybe not so coincidentally, that is also the last year on Carroll’s contract, by which point it will be apparent if the team’s retooling process is a success.
In his opening statement, Metcalf made clear that staying with the Seahawks was more than a football decision.
“I mean, this is my home,” he said.
He recalled the neck injury he suffered in 2018 at Ole Miss that had doctors questioning if he could play again.
“Thinking about when I broke my neck and I was told I wasn’t gonna be able to play football again, and now this moment happening,” Metcalf said, visibly emotional at times. “It’s just all a blessing.”
And he recalled his surprising drop down the NFL draft board the following spring to pick No. 64, after some thought he might go in the first round, to being one of the NFL’s highest-paid receivers — the new-money average per year of $24 million is tied for sixth.
Metcalf said attaining any financial landmarks wasn’t his sole intent.
“I mean, we had goals that we talked about both on the team side and our side,” Metcalf said. “But this is just an amazing moment where I get to help my family and the state of Mississippi.”
Metcalf said he hopes to find ways to help with health care and nutrition in Mississippi by opening a couple restaurants there.
Typifying the day’s feel-good nature, Carroll and Schneider fondly recalled Metcalf’s draft day and the Seahawks’ spur-of-the-moment trade with the Patriots to move up 13 spots to pick him. Carroll at one point asked Metcalf if he wanted to take off shirts, replicating their famed meeting with him at the 2019 combine.
Metcalf signed his contract Friday, with his family looking on via FaceTime, attended a walk-through and met with the media.
Metcalf said the new deal won’t change his approach to the game. He repeated that his goal is to reach the Hall of Fame, and that he will forever remain motivated by his draft-day fall.
“I’m still not done,” Metcalf said. “And that chip hasn’t gone anywhere.”
Sweezy signs ceremonial deal
Following in the steps of Wright’s signing this week, the Seahawks signed guard J.R. Sweezy to a ceremonial one-day contract Friday, so he can retire as a Seahawk.
Sweezy was a seventh-round pick in 2012 out of North Carolina State, where he had been a defensive linemen. Converted to offensive line, Sweezy became a full-time starter in his second season in 2013 at right guard, starting 15 games and all three in the playoffs as the Seahawks recorded their only Super Bowl victory.
In all, Sweezy played 74 games for the Seahawks with 64 starts, and 11 in the playoffs.