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Moore: The Seahawks should have saved their money instead of extending Tyler Lockett

Tyler Lockett is now being paid like the Seahawks' No. 2 receiver behind Doug Baldwin. (AP)

Can someone give me a plausible explanation why the Seahawks gave Tyler Lockett a three-year contract extension worth up to $37.8 million with $20 million guaranteed? I’m wondering in whose world those numbers make sense. When I’ve watched Lockett, I don’t see a player that I’d pay $10 million a year to play for my team.

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If I’m going to try to answer my own question, I suppose I forget his value as a kickoff and punt returner. Coach Pete Carroll mentioned those things yesterday, but if I’d been at his press conference, I would have shaken my head. In his three years with the Seahawks, Lockett has averaged 26 yards per kickoff return. Listen, I know he’s fast and quick and elusive, but if I were the kickoff returner, even at the age of 61, I’d down the ball in the end zone every time and average 25 yards a return because they spot the ball at the 25 every time.

Here’s the other thing – with the new kickoff rules, it could enhance Lockett’s value or it could hurt his value, we just don’t know until we see it played out in the regular season. You might be paying him to be a big factor in kickoff returns, and he might not be one at all.

OK, so maybe you’ll say, what about his value as a punt returner? His punt-return average has gone down every year, from 9.5 yards in 2015 to 8.4 yards in 2016 to 6.6 yards in 2017. I’d also argue that from what we’ve seen from David Moore in the preseason, I’d rather have that second-year player fielding punts so you limit the possibility for injuries to Lockett and have him focus solely on his role as a receiver.

His receiving numbers, though decent, don’t warrant the contract he received. Forty-five catches for 555 yards last year, 41 for 597 yards in 2016 and 51 for 664 yards in 2015. His best year was his rookie season because he had six touchdowns to go with those 51 receptions. You can say that he had a pretty good year playing, admittedly, at 75 to 80 percent last year coming off of a broken leg the year before.

So now the Seahawks are suddenly betting on him to be a No. 2 receiver to Doug Baldwin and are paying him accordingly. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a No. 2 receiver when I watch Tyler Lockett. I see a good player who could be a No. 2 receiver, but he isn’t one yet. I’d even bet that Brandon Marshall, Jaron Brown or Moore has a better chance to be a No. 2 receiver this year than Lockett.

Wanna guess how many touchdown receptions Lockett has made in his last 31 games? Three. That’s it. I haven’t checked, but I’m guessing most No. 2 receivers have more than three touchdowns in their last 31 games.

Frankly, Paul Richardson, who signed a free-agent deal with the Redskins, had a better year than Lockett in 2017 with 44 catches for 703 yards and six TDs. The Seahawks let Richardson go and somehow gave Lockett a similar contract with a bigger guarantee (Richardson got $12.5 million guaranteed from Washington).

I also worry about Lockett’s size. I don’t know how much his small size has to do with having a greater chance of being injured, but I tend to think it does, particularly when you consider the impact of those hits across the middle. Lockett is listed at 5-11 and 170 pounds, but I’m guessing he’s closer to 5-10 and 160 or 165.

Then I heard this business about the Lockett contract maybe being a bargain in years to come after the salary cap goes up and up and up every year. Maybe so, but I still would have let Lockett play out his contract this year and faced the possibility of losing him in free agency, franchising him if he had a gangbusters year or more likely, saying “whew” that you saved your money on a player who got hurt or didn’t meet expectations.

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