Where does DK Metcalf’s season rank in Seahawks and NFL history?

Dec 3, 2020, 3:35 PM
Seahawks DK Metcalf...
DK Metcalf is on pace to break the Seahawks' single-season receiving yards record. (Getty)

After another stellar performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf now leads the NFL in receiving yards, is well on his way to his first career Pro Bowl nod and could perhaps even get some All-Pro votes.

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The rising 22-year-old star has 58 catches, 1,039 yards and nine touchdowns through 11 games in his second NFL season. Metcalf will establish a new career-high in receptions with his next catch and he already has more yards and touchdowns than as a rookie in 2019.

If Metcalf keeps up this pace over the Seahawks’ five remaining games, he’d end the year with roughly 84 catches, 1,511 yards and 13 touchdowns, a remarkable stat line for any receiver but especially for someone of his age and experience.

Those numbers obviously will be the best marks of Metcalf’s career, but how does it stack up with other big-name receivers? Let’s see how Metcalf’s 2020 pace compares to the best seasons by Seahawks of the past, NFL second-year receivers and in NFL history in general.

Seahawks history

Arguably the two best Seahawks receivers ever are Steve Largent and Doug Baldwin. And while some may prefer others to Baldwin, it’s unquestioned that at this moment, Largent is the GOAT. It’s not surprising then to see that Largent and Baldwin hold many of the key titles in Seattle’s record books.

Largent holds the franchise record for receiving yards in a single season with 1,287 in 1985. Now that Metcalf has surpassed 1,000 yards in 2020, the Seahawks have had receivers go over 1,000 yards 24 times. Largent has eight of those seasons, including five of the top 10 single-season yardage performances in team history.

Baldwin, who has two 1,000-yard seasons to his name, holds two single-season records as he caught 14 touchdowns in 2015 and in 2016, and he tied Bobby Engram’s record of 94 catches in a single campaign.

So, Metcalf is on pace to break Largent’s record for yards by over 200 but would fall short of Baldwin’s records for catches and touchdowns. But when you put together Metcalf’s entire body of work for 2020, if he keeps up this pace, yes, it would be far and away the best year ever by a Seahawks receiver.

When you look at the best years Seahawks receivers have had, the overall best season appears to be Largent’s 1979 campaign when he caught 66 passes for 1,237 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games. Metcalf is on track to exceed Largent’s numbers in all three categories.

Second-year receivers

Metcalf’s numbers and projected statistics are remarkable for just about any NFL receiver but especially when you consider that he’s still just 22 and is playing in only his second NFL season.

The best season for any second-year receiver belongs to Isaac Bruce, who caught 119 passes for 1,781 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Rams in 1995. His 1,781 yards is easily the most for any second-year receiver, and it’s also the fifth-most yards any receiver has ever recorded in a single year.

Metcalf likely won’t surpass Bruce’s incredible year, but he will be in contention for maybe the second-best season for a second-year receiver.

Currently that honor belongs to Jerry Rice, the best receiver in NFL history. In 1986, Rice had 86 receptions, 1,570 yards and 15 touchdowns for the 49ers. Metcalf’s current pace would leave him just short of Rice in all three key marks, but he would have more yards than Odell Beckham Jr. had for the Giants in 2015. That year, Beckham caught 96 passes and 13 touchdowns while totaling 1,450 yards. Metcalf’s pace has him set to tie Beckham in scores and surpass him in yards while falling behind in catches.

Other notable lines from second-year receivers are 90 catches for 1,423 yards and 12 touchdowns by Green Bay’s Sterling Sharpe in 1989 and 80 catches for 1,413 yards and 11 scores by Minnesota’s Randy Moss in 1999.

Best WR seasons ever

Metcalf’s numbers are incredible, and as mentioned, he will likely wind up having the best season ever for a Seahawks receiver and one of the best years of any receiver in their second NFL season. But how does he compare to the best seasons in NFL history for any receiver on any team in any year?

First, let’s look at receptions.

Metcalf gets a high volume of targets and comes away with a fair share, but most of his damage is done with longer passes. Because of that, while Metcalf may eventually have 100-plus catches in a season, he won’t come close to some of the best numbers players have had in terms of receptions. As noted, he’s on pace to catch 84 passes.

Saints receiver Michael Thomas set the record last year with 149 catches. After that, it’s Marvin Harrison with 143 in 2002, Julio Jones and Antonio Brown with 136 in 2015, Brown with 129 in 2014, and Thomas with 125 in 2018.

How about yards? Metcalf is on pace for 1,511, which would put him over 400 yards short of Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964 in 2012. After that, Jones had 1,871 in 2015, Rice had 1,848 in 1995, Brown had 1,834 in 2015 and Bruce, as noted earlier, had 1,781 in his second season. If Metcalf did indeed finish with 1,511 yards, he’d finish with the 42nd-most yards in a single season ever, and he’d have the 47th season ever with over 1,500 receiving yards.

And lastly, touchdowns. Metcalf has nine and is on pace for 13.

Moss set the record in 2007 with 23. Rice had 22 in 1987 and Sharpe and Mark Clayton each had 18 touchdowns in 1994 and 1984, respectively.

What’s the verdict?

Metcalf’s 2020 campaign will almost certainly wind up being the best in Seahawks history, and it will be one of the best years any second-year receiver has ever had, but it’s not quite on par with the best receiving seasons of all time. Still, it could fall in the top 50 in yardage, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

Metcalf has quickly emerged as one of the NFL’s elite playmakers in his second season and it sure looks like he’s not even close to reaching his peak yet. That should absolutely terrify the rest of the NFL and have members of the Seahawks organization dancing in place.

As Metcalf continues to develop as a route runner and learn to beat different coverages and defensive looks, there’s a real possibility he starts putting together seasons that are among the best in league history while catching more and more passes from Russell Wilson.

Not too bad for someone who many wrote off in the pre-draft process.

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Where does DK Metcalf’s season rank in Seahawks and NFL history?