Lockett says he was only 75-80 percent last season while recovering from a broken leg.
Another Seahawks season, another receiver entering the final year of his rookie contract hoping for a breakout year that could mean a big contract down the road.
A year ago, it was Paul Richardson, who turned in the best season of his career (44 catches for 703 yards) and then entered free agency, ultimately signing a five-year contract worth up to $40 million with Washington.
This year, it’s Tyler Lockett, a third-round pick in 2015, who is now entering the final season of his initial four-year rookie deal with his future certain (he’s due to make $1.9 million this year as part of a four-year deal worth up to $3.3 million overall).
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Like Richardson did a year ago in playing all 16 games in a season for the first time in his career, Lockett is banking on improved health leading to improved production.
While Lockett played every game last season and caught 45 passes for 555 yards, he said he spent all year still trying to get all the way back after suffering two broken bones in his lower right leg in a game against Arizona on Christmas Eve 2016.
“I’d probably say about 75, 80 percent,” he said Thursday when asked to assess his health in 2017. “But it didn’t stop me from still going out there and doing my same job, the same role that I was given. Still was getting open against people. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how you feel when you go out there. If you go out there, it’s time to go. You can’t make excuses if you don’t get open. You can’t make excuses if you don’t catch the pass. If you’re out there, everybody expects you to do the same thing if you weren’t hurt.”
The good news as minicamp ended Thursday is that Lockett appears all the way back to pre-injury form, taking part in everything fully until being given the last two days off, his point having been made.
“It’s real positive, really positive,” coach Pete Carroll said Thursday. “You guys have watched him, and he’s just such a wonderful kid on your team, and there’s just been a spirit about him about wanting to compete and extra stuff and always at it, and then last year he couldn’t do that, he wasn’t able to. He was rehabbing and just barely getting on the practice field for the most part. And now he’s back freed up and ready to go again, so you see all that great spirit and the energy that he generates. It’s wonderful to see because he’s such a great kid. He’s really excited about getting back and digging in on returns as well as the receiver stuff. He and Russ (Russell Wilson), they really have a great understanding too, and he knows what we’re doing and all. So he’s a real positive part of our team.”
As does just about any pending free agent this time of year, Lockett says he hopes to stay with the Seahawks. But he also says he’s trying for now to focus mostly on the present.
“Obviously do people think about it? Yeah, you think about it,” Lockett said. “But for me it’s never been about money. For me it’s always been about faith and being able to use this as a platform to be able to show people that you could do both. You can live for God. Some people back at home, the only way they can see that there is a God is by looking at me and my life and growing up. For me, all of that stuff is going to come, that’s something that I don’t worry about but I’d be lying if I said it was never in the back of the mind. I just come out here every day and try to get better. I’m thankful for the opportunity that I have to be able to come to the Seahawks to be able to do both special teams and be able to play receiver. Not too many teams are going to allow you to be able to do that.”