By Brady Henderson
RENTON – Doug Baldwin sat in the auditorium when Seattle announced Richard Sherman’s contract extension earlier this month, watching as his teammate and close friend became the latest Seahawk to get a new deal.
Doug Baldwin’s new deal is reportedly worth up to $13 million over three years and includes $9 million guaranteed. (AP)
On Thursday, Baldwin finally got his moment in the limelight.
With coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider at his side, Sherman in the crowd and his own jersey in his hands, Baldwin posed for pictures then kicked off his press conference by popping a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling cider.
“Thanks, everybody, for coming out to Doug Baldwin Day,” Schneider said as the team announced a new deal that will keep the wide receiver under contract through the 2016 season.
Baldwin, who became a restricted free agent after last season, will play 2014 on the one-year tender before a two-year extension kicks in. ESPN broke the news of Baldwin’s deal, reporting that it’s worth up to $13 million and includes $9 million guaranteed.
The Seahawks had given Baldwin a second-round tender worth $2.187 million, but he waited to sign it in the hope of reaching a multi-year deal. Baldwin was a good soldier throughout the negotiations, participating in Seattle’s offseason workouts even though he wasn’t under contract.
Now he is for the next three seasons thanks to a new deal that will come with a nice raise. If the reported terms are accurate, Baldwin will make an average of $4.33 million after making less than $500,000 a year on the rookie deal he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011.
“I love that we get to make this gesture to him because we’re rewarding a guy for who he is more so than what he does,” Carroll said.
Baldwin was Seattle’s second-leading receiver last season, catching 50 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns. As Schneider mentioned Thursday, a number of those catches came in key moments – whether it was the toe-tapping sideline grabs that sustained drives against Carolina and Houston or the long receptions he made in the playoffs against New Orleans and then San Francisco.
“This is an very clutch performer from a football standpoint,” Schneider said.
A look back at some of the key plays made by Doug Baldwin in 2013:
|• Week 1: With Seattle trailing Carolina 7-3 in the third quarter, Baldwin helped convert a third-and-8 at set up a field goal by making a 13-yard catch while falling out of bounds.||• Week 4: A similar grab in the third quarter against Houston helped the Seahawks convert a third-and-7 from their own 5, this one producing 24 yards to set up a touchdown that cut the Texans’ lead to seven.||• Divisional round: Facing third-and-3 and leading the Saints by eight points in the fourth quarter, Baldwin’s 24-yard back-shoulder catch set up the game-clinching touchdown.||• NFC title game: Two big plays by Baldwin each set up field goals, first a 51-yard catch with Seattle trailing 10-0 in the second quarter then a 69-yard kickoff return after the 49ers took a seven-point lead in the third.|
In addition to showing a knack for making big plays in key moments, Baldwin also showed an ability to play on the outside after operating mainly out of the slot during his first two seasons. Carroll said he’ll be Seattle’s starter at split end – a position that became open when Golden Tate left in free agency – while also seeing time at the other receiver spots.
“He’ll be all over the field,” Carroll said.
Baldwin’s deal crosses another item off of Seattle’s offseason to-do list. The Seahawks have re-signed key members of their Super Bowl team like defensive lineman Michael Bennett, free safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and now Baldwin.
The timing of his deal is significant. The Seahawks didn’t have to re-sign him this season, Baldwin indicating on several occasions that he would have played in 2014 on the one-year tender had no new deal been reached. But the fact that Seattle gave Baldwin a multi-year contract a year before he reached unrestricted free agency is another sign that the Seahawks are willing to reward their own.
“They said they were going to take care of their own guys first, and they were going to find a way to do that. They’ve done that, and they’ve been true to their word,” Baldwin said. “I think that that message is spreading across the locker room in that if you continue to put in the hard work and the effort and if you show that you’re willing to buy into what we have here, that you’ll be rewarded and that you’ll be shown that you’re appreciated, and obviously they were able to do that.”