Inside the numbers of a potential Seahawks-DK Metcalf extension
There are a couple of factors complicating the Seahawks’ quest to sign DK Metcalf to a new contract, and when you dig into the present situation and what has transpired over the last couple of weeks, there is one possible and uncomfortable conclusion that arises: Metcalf wants a number much larger than the Seahawks are willing to pay.
The minicamp no-show was the first indication that something is truly amiss. Until Metcalf’s absence, the lack of a new contract was nothing out of the ordinary. It’s how the Seahawks operate, and they have established a great system for ironing out contracts later in the summer when the looming importance of having your house in order comes to a head at the start of the season. However, the nature of the absence makes it different.
Metcalf was around the facility for OTAs, which are voluntary, yet he made a clear statement by not coming to a mandatory portion of the offseason. It also puts this situation in a stark light when compared to the presence of other NFL players seeking extensions like Kyler Murray, Deebo Samuel, and Lamar Jackson, who did all show up to minicamp.
So what happened? Right now, it seems like the Seahawks presented a contract they thought was fair, and Metcalf’s absence gives you a pretty good idea how his camp feels about the offer. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll even alluded to the frustration on their side when he said at minicamp, “We really intended to get that done.”
What is the number?
Metcalf is repped by CAA, a power when it comes to sports media and athlete contracts. This is the company that swung monstrous deals for announcers Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, so it’s tough to imagine they will take anything less than at the very top of the wide receiver market for a young, elite talent like Metcalf – especially since DK’s agent, Tory Dany, also represents A.J. Brown and the aforementioned Samuel.
The two factors key to the escalating wide receiver market are average annual value (essentially the per year breakdown even if the money isn’t paid in equal amounts over the course of the contract) and fully guaranteed money. It is too cost-prohibitive to be the highest-paid in both areas, and the most recent wide receiver contracts signed have shown that:
• Tyreek Hill: Four years, $120 million total, $30 million per year, $52.535 million guaranteed
• A.J. Brown: Four years, $100 million, $25 million per year, $56.470 million fully guaranteed
(All contract info is from OverTheCap.com)
We don’t have to get into the salary cap minutiae here, but Hill’s reported $72 million guaranteed from Miami isn’t completely accurate. That would be if he plays the entire contract and there are all sorts of ways to get out of a deal before it is up (just look at Bobby Wagner and the Seahawks).
The important thing to note here is that Brown provides a snapshot, at minimum, of what Metcalf’s agent is asking for from the Seahawks because the Brown deal laid down a baseline of what must now be topped.
There a couple factors working in Metcalf’s favor: he is just 24 years old, and he has a skillset and body type that is in extreme demand around the league. It would be reckless to project whether his camp is asking to be the highest-paid in AAV or in fully guaranteed money, but it’s fair to reason that at this current time, in one way or another, Metcalf wants to be the highest paid at his position. And the Seahawks’ recent history would give him a pretty strong case.
Seahawks contracts at marquee positions
Here is where the strong relationship the Seahawks have with their players, and their recent history of rewarding their stars, might be used as a negotiating tactic against them by CAA and Metcalf. The Hawks treat their stars well and reset the market each time, with quarterback Russell Wilson, linebacker Bobby Wagner and safety Jamal Adams all being the highest-paid players at their respective positions at the time of their extensions:
• Russell Wilson, 2019: Four years, $140 million, $35 million per year, highest-paid player in the NFL at the time
• Bobby Wagner, 2019: Three years, $54 million, $18 million per year, highest-paid linebacker at the time
• Jamal Adams, 2021: Four years, $70 million, $17.5 million per year, highest-paid safety in the NFL at the time
Those three all reset the market, and from Metcalf’s perspective it makes sense that he gets rewarded the same way, especially coming off his rookie deal. Unfortunately, that number for wide receivers has now jumped north of $30 million per year, or more than $57 million in fully guaranteed money. If you’re the Seahawks, you rightfully think long and hard about committing that amount of money to a wide receiver, even one as good as DK Metcalf.
No one, outside of the people in the room, truly know what numbers are being thrown around. But one way or another, there could be a massive change coming for DK Metcalf by the time the season begins.