PHOENIX — Yes, Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin is having another surgery, this one in April to repair a hernia injury.
But if three surgeries seems like it should be enough, coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday he isn’t sure when Baldwin will be healthy, even saying there’s a chance he may have to have more work done, the latest in what has been a steady stream of ominous news about Seattle’s most veteran offensive player this offseason.
“No, not really,” Carroll said during his meeting with the media here at the NFL league meetings when asked about a timetable for a return for Baldwin. “Not at this time.”
Baldwin has already had knee and shoulder surgeries this offseason and has been thought contemplating his football future, though the Seahawks appear to be moving forward with the idea he will be with them in 2019 — they have yet to add anybody at that position since the new league year began in March.
But when asked if the hernia surgery will be the last of the offeason surgeries Baldwin will have to have, Carroll said: “I don’t know that conclusively. Still working on some stuff.”
Baldwin battled injuries to both knees as well as a shoulder, elbow and abdomen in 2018 when he missed three games — his first since 2012 — and was held to 50 catches, his fewest since 2013. He missed two games early in the season due to a sprained MCL and then the Minnesota game in December with a hip/groin issue, which is what he is presumably having surgery to fix next month. He has two years remaining on a four-year contract he signed in 2016.
“He’s been challenged by it,” Carroll said. “Hard year for him. Really challenging year. To be less than he’s been in year’s past — he’s always done everything, never missed a day of practice, always worked in every drill we’ve ever had. It was challenging for him to have to deal with that. We had to monitor him throughout the year. I have so much respect for the way he was able to deal with. He was so banged up. He had a number of things that surfaced last year. It’s been challenging. Having had to deal with that … it’s not going away, here he goes he’s getting operated on in April again.”
But Carroll said that “if anybody can do it (and return) he can get it done.”
“In one respect there’s never been anybody that’s tougher and more able to come back from whatever challenges he’s (faced),” Carroll said. “He’s been extraordinarily adept at figuring out how to return from understand the circumstances of being banged up. If he could, he will. If he could do it, he will. I have no doubt in that. But it’s a been a challenging offseason for him. He’s had a lot of stuff he’s been working on. This latest one is going to take some time again. Whatever he has to do we’re going to follow, support and believe in it.”
Here’s more of what Carroll said when he met the media for an hour here Tuesday:
SEAHAWKS STILL HOPING FOR LONG-TERM DEAL WITH FRANK CLARK
Since Carroll last talked to the media, at the NFL combine last month, the Seahawks have placed a franchise tag on Frank Clark that guarantees him a salary of $17.1 million for the 2019 season. But the Seahawks continue to talk with Clark about a long-term deal that would avoid the potential of him becoming a free agent following the 2019 season. And Carroll also indicated he doesn’t read much into a report that Clark will not sign the franchise tag and will hold out until he has a new deal.
“This time of year, in his situation, there’s all kinds of speculation,” Carroll said. “We’ll see what happens. Not worried about Frank at all. Frank had a fantastic season, we’re thrilled to have him coming back. We’re going to make the most of it.”
Asked if the Seahawks are expecting to get a long-term deal done with Clark, Carroll said: “We’d like to. We’ve talked about all that kind of stuff. We’d like to.”
As for using the franchise tag on Clark, something the team had not done since 2010 on kicker Olindo Mare, Carroll said: “The way we would say it is we know Frank is going to be with us. We’ll figure it out. We’d love to have him under contract. That’s an ongoing process.”
‘DR. DREW’ AND MALIK MCDOWELL
Seattle’s waiving of defensive tackle Malik McDowell earlier this month as injured made clear that the Seahawks don’t think he can get medically cleared to play due to a head injury he suffered in an ATV accident in July 2017.
But McDowell’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said at the league meetings on Monday that McDowell has been cleared by “independent” doctors and hopes to continue to play — he had a visit with the Cowboys last week and Rosenhaus said he hopes something works out with Dallas.
Carroll, in the first on-the-record comments from the team since waiving McDowell, said it would be a surprise if McDowell were able to play again.
“Great for him because I know he’d love to play in a game and all that,” Carroll said. “They’ve got that figured out and he’s gotten (cleared) and all that, but we had to deal with it the way we did. So it’s surprising.”
Asked what was surprising, Carroll said that “it sounds like somebody cleared him, doctors cleared him to play.”
When another reporter asked a similar question later in the session, Carroll spoke a little more firmly to make clear the team’s belief that McDowell isn’t medically fit to play.
“The doctors wouldn’t let him play,” he said. ” … He had an accident that he was injured and they couldn’t clear him. So …”
Asked if the status changed, Carroll said “I don’t know that. I wouldn’t know.”
When he then asked again who it was who said McDowell had been cleared and was told it was Rosenhaus, Carroll said, “Who said that? Dr. Drew? Makes sense now.”
‘IN COMMUNICATION’ WITH RUSSELL WILSON
This is about the time when the Seahawks could start talking seriously on a contract extension with quarterback Russell Wilson, whose deal runs out following the 2019 season.
Carroll didn’t offer a lot when asked about Wilson’s future with the team, but he did smile and say it’s something the team is working on.
“We’ve been in communication, sure,” Carroll said. “It’s very topical. We’re on it.”
BOBBY WAGNER IS ‘GOING TO BE A SEAHAWK’
The Seahawks will also try to get something done this offseason with middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who plans to represent himself. Carroll said that can add a unique quality to the negotiations but indicated he’s confident something will get done.
“We have met with Bobby just kind of in prelude to what it takes to do that,” Carroll said. “He’s an incredible player and been an incredible part of our program and the community and all that. Bobby’s going to be a Seahawk.”
The Seahawks re-signed K.J. Wright to keep the Wright-Wagner inside tandem together. Wagner several times last year openly advocated for the team to keep Wright, saying at one point how the team dealt with Wright could impact his own Seattle future.
Carroll said the team understood what it would mean to Wagner to keep Wright.
“That might have been the best thing we did to negotiate with Bobby,” Carroll said. “Those guys are great friends, and they’re just warriors. They’ve been through it all together. Bobby was instrumental in the whole process.”
EARL THOMAS AND OTHER QUICK-HITTING NOTES
Here are a few other quick notes:
— Carroll, asked whether the team had much communication with safety Earl Thomas before he signed with Baltimore, essentially confirmed that the two sides never really talked. “No, not too much,” Carroll said. “Not too much.”
— Carroll said tight end Will Dissly, who suffered a patellar tendon injury against Arizona last September, continues to progress well in his recovery. “Will’s doing great,” Carroll said. “He’s in the weight room with our guys working out. He’s in the training room. I see Will a lot, coming through the facility. He looks good, running well, from what I understand. He’s moving, getting going. It’s still going to take us all the way to camp time to get him going and we won’t rush that at all. He’s in the great shape so far. Everything is going well.”
— Carroll didn’t offer any more specifics to the uncertainty over the availability of Kendricks, who had a sentencing hearing for an insider trading charge set for April 4 before it was canceled on Monday. It’s unclear now when Kendricks will be sentenced. But the team remains confident he will be available. What Carroll said is not an issue is a knee injury Kendricks suffered Dec. 10 against Minnesota that caused him to miss the rest of the season. “He’s fine,” Carroll said. “It was a pretty straightforward surgery and all that. He should be in pretty good shape. Sounds like he’s great.”