Seahawks have a quandary DK Metcalf is caught in the middle of

Mar 31, 2022, 12:35 AM

Seahawks DK Metcalf...

DK Metcalf passes by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll during a November 2021 game. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks’ offense is going to look different in 2022 from how it looked in 2021.

Why the New York Jets are a team to watch for a DK Metcalf trade

That’s a pretty obvious statement considering the Seahawks traded franchise quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos earlier this month and likely won’t know who their next starting QB will be until the end of the preseason.

But with that big change comes the general acceptance that the Seahawks will return to a style that coach Pete Carroll has been more comfortable with throughout his career – one that is predicated more on running the football than Seattle has in recent years.

And that’s where the Seahawks have a quandary.

To have a good running game, you need talented, reliable running backs. You also need an offensive line capable of creating holes for those backs to run through.

When you look at the Seahawks’ offensive roster, though, players that factor more into the passing game take up a good chunk of the salary cap – or are in line to.

Wide receiver Tyler Lockett is Seattle’s highest-paid offensive player with a cap hit of just over $10 million for 2022, according to Spotrac. Tight end Will Dissly just cashed in this offseason on a new deal that carries a $4.59 million cap hit, fifth on Seattle’s offense. And then there’s the case that’s been all over headlines in recent weeks – wide receiver DK Metcalf, who is just behind Dissly at a cap hit of over $4.3 million but is in line for a huge contract extension.

That is, if he’s not traded first.

With Seattle’s offense expected to power down its passing attack, and with the wide receiver market having exploded in the NFL both in trade and contract value this offseason, Seattle Sports’ Jake and Stacy discussed on their show Wednesday whether it still makes sense for the Seahawks to keep Metcalf. Let’s take a look at some of the points they made during their discussion.

The big question

“Do you pay $25 million a year to a wide receiver who’s not getting 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns (in a season)? I know that’s an insane season, but are you going to pay someone like the best receiver in football if you’re not constantly targeting him?” asked Stacy Rost. “That’s kind of the quandary Seattle might be in. They’ve said that they ‘intend’ to keep DK Metcalf and they can’t imagine not having him on this team. But it’s the weird space they’re in, where they’re rebuilding, you’re going to be in an offense shaped in Pete Carroll’s mind – does that offense lean into and use DK? Or do they lean into the running backs, lean into their offensive line?”

How the Seahawks’ offense works

“What I would say is that the passing game for the Seahawks’ offense is viewed as the explosive element, right?” responded Jake Heaps. “That’s how Pete Carroll has viewed the passing game. And in Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, they are the tip of the spear when it comes to the offense. So the running game help sets up the big explosive plays, the touchdowns – when we throw, in Pete Carroll’s own words, he’s not interested in having a dink-and-dunk offense. He wants to throw downfield, be explosive, and be able to throw touchdowns. And so I think that when you’re looking at the offense, and the way that this is set up, it is to play complimentary football with your defense – to have a great defense, an elite defense, have a strong running game that can tie in the physical elements. As Pete Carroll says, the circle of toughness. And then what ends up happening is because you are physical, you’re running the ball effectively, defenses have to respect that and therefore you leave one-on-one opportunities on the edges, which allows you to be in attack mode with great receivers like Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. And that is the way that Pete Carroll views all of that coming together in his overall philosophy. But you got to have a great running game, you have to have a consistent running game for all of that to work offensively.”

Is the running game good enough?

“They have potentially a great one but not a consistent one,” Rost said of Seattle’s running game. “That’s the problem to me, because it’s not me doubting how great Rashaad Penny can be. He was the best running back in football at the end of last year. It’s not me doubting how good Chris Carson can be. He’s one of the most fun running backs I’ve watched here in Seattle and has had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019. So you know what they can be. The problem is that neither has been able to stay healthy. And not only that, but your offensive line hasn’t been particularly great at run blocking. … You don’t have those pieces.”

Is DK more valuable to the Seahawks as a player or a trade piece?

Rost made the point that Metcalf’s production in Seattle’s offense, which likely won’t match recently traded star NFL receivers Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams’ output, might not be worth the money it takes to sign him to an extension like those two just inked with the Dolphins and Raiders, respectively.

“If Seattle wants to trade DK and say, ‘You know what? DK is exceptionally talented, but we just would not be using him in the right way,’ … let’s say that they feel that way. They think he’s exceptionally talented, I personally think he’s a great fit for Pete Carroll’s offense, but I don’t know that in Pete Carroll’s offense or the Seahawks’ offense that he’s getting the yards that Tyreek Hill will get or Davante Adams would get. So recognizing that, I can see the temptation of Seattle taking those picks (in a trade for Metcalf). And if you want to build towards something, that’s fine, but there is a risk that you take in passing on the sure thing in DK and going with the thing that’s more uncertain, which is your running game.”

Heaps countered that while Metcalf may be a “sure thing,” trading him wouldn’t prevent the Seahawks from still having an explosive passing game.

“On the flip side, I don’t think that that’s how the Seahawks would view it. If they ended up trading DK Metcalf, you’re looking at saying, ‘Well, we still have Tyler Lockett, who we’re paying $17 million to. He’s a very, very good deep threat in this league. We just paid Will Dissly $8 million. We got (tight end) Noah Fant in that trade (with Denver). We have (wide receiver) Dee Eskridge, who is a guy that can absolutely fly and we drafted him in the second round last year.’ They’re not devoid of talent, and they could potentially draft another receiver in a very talented class this year.'”

What a Metcalf trade would allow Seattle to do

“It doesn’t take away your point that you have a sure thing in DK Metcalf,” Heaps continued, “but (the Seahawks) also look at it and say, ‘We still have weapons, we still have individuals that can get the job done, and we have major holes with our roster.'”

Specifically in areas important to the run game.

“I look at the offensive line being a group that that has a lot of (holes). I mean, even with Austin Blythe being here as a center, they only signed him to a one-year deal. So what are you going to do with him after that one-year deal? To get into a much longer conversation, Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson, they’re on one-year deals essentially, too. So there’s a lot of holes, there’s a lot of things that they have to figure out and establish, and the best way to do that in their estimation is through draft and developing. And yeah, there’s a risk in that, but I think that is the route that they eventually want to go in, is to try and build their foundational pieces through the draft and in the image of a Pete Carroll-designed team – elite defense and a great, strong running game that is physical, that can complete the circle of toughness.”

What may keep DK in Seattle

“Here’s what’s interesting to me,” Rost responded. “I think the only wrench that’s been thrown into the game isn’t, ‘Oh, you don’t have Russell Wilson so you’re going to change up your offense a little bit and lean more into your more traditional offensive philosophy.’ I think DK fits that. It’s that the wide receiver market’s changed. DK Metcalf is a great fit for a hypothetical Pete Carroll offense. Great downfield threat, very tough, a bigger receiver, which Carroll has always coveted. … Pete Carroll loves that type of player. … I think some people see it as though receivers are finesse and running backs are tough, and you must choose one or the other, when I think in Pete Carroll’s ideal world, you have explosive plays and you have DK Metcalf for those plays.”

This is just a portion of Jake and Stacy’s discussion, which you can hear in full in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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Seahawks have a quandary DK Metcalf is caught in the middle of