After the Seahawks traded for and then extended slot receiver Percy Harvin for the long-term over the offseason, several teams called John Schneider to ask about the availability of Doug Baldwin,CBSSports' Jason La Canfora reports. Doug Baldwin returns as a possession guy who can make things happen in the slot. Several team inquired about him this offseason after the Harvin signing, but Schneider wouldn't even entertain those overtures, wanting as much depth as possible. That looks particularly sage now given Harvin's situation.
Baldwin enters his final year under full club control in 2013 before becoming a restricted free agent in 2014, so ostensibly, a trade would make some sense, assuming Harvin were to be healthy the entire year. However, in reality, Harvin's health is not a given (no player's health is a given) and the fact of the matter is, Doug Baldwin is a player that performs well over his pay grade as a former UDFA signee, which provides a ton of value to this team in the short term.
Reports out of camp indicate Baldwin's rapport with Wilson is stronger now than it was during the season, when Baldwin missed much of the previous training camp and then stretches during the year due to various injuries. Little practice time with Wilson, combined with the emergence of Golden Tate and Sidney Rice as Russell's go-to targets meant Baldwin's numbers didn't match up with what I believe to be his talent level. I'm a strong Baldwin supporter for this offense - I think he brings a quickness and route running factor that you don't necessarily get from his cohorts - and if you go back and watch some of the final weeks of the season and the Playoffs, Baldwin is a guy that was making big play after big play in crucial situations.
So, even with the possibility that Percy Harvin could forgo surgery on his hip and play the season out, Baldwin is a valuable commodity. It's not about touches in this somewhat unique Seahawks' offense, it's about the value you create when the ball is thrown your way. Baldwin was able to lead the Hawks in receiving his rookie season when he was one of the primary targets (this was before Golden Tate's emergence, before Zach Miller started getting the ball thrown his way, and while Sidney Rice was missing chunks of time with injuries) - imagine what he brings as the 'forgotten man' when on the field with Harvin, Rice, Percy, Golden, and Lynch (and Miller or Turbin or Michael or Robinson).
Apart from the day Harvin's injury was reported, around here anyway, there has been a lack of the panic that you'd expect form a potentially season-altering injury for a core player in Harvin. The thought that "we'll be fine without Percy even if he's hurt" has sort of taken over after the initial shock of hearing about it, and while I do think it definitely hurts the offense if Percy is out for any significant amount of time, it's not necessarily delusional or foolhardy to think this offense will be okay without him.
This is a thought that GM John Schneider echoed over the weekend.
"We firmly believe that, just because we were aggressive making this move - and obviously he is an incredible talent - there's a lot of talented guys," Schneider told Tom Pelissaro. "We like the talent on our football team. There's a lot of talented players all throughout the National Football League. But like anybody always says, it's never, ever about one player. It's about the team."
"Going into the offseason, we felt very good about our team and our core of players. The opportunity to acquire a guy like Percy was extremely unique for us. We had to. We had to do that."
Man, I really don't want to fall into the homer-trap of rationalization about the (potential) Harvin injury because at the end of the day, it fucking sucks (it really sucks), but quite honestly, Harvin's addition to the offense was more of a cherry on the top than a pillar to stand on. He's like a NOS booster pack in your trunk - gives you that extra punch when you're neck and neck - but the Seahawks tend to take the slow-and-steady-wins-the-race tack over sprinting out at the gun anyway, so his absence doesn't really alter the gameplan. Run run run playaction run run playaction run playaction read zone trick play run run run.
I know he's a consumate diplomat when it comes to this kind of stuff, but hearing Schneider's take on the situation was pretty calming, quite honestly.
As Pelissaro points out,
Before making the trade, the Seahawks spent months digging into Harvin's background, including his injury history and run-ins with both his head coaches in Minnesota that helped wear out his welcome with the Vikings.
"And then as we went down the road with it in investigating that deal, it ended up coming our way and (Harvin) was very excited about the opportunity to come here and play with Russell (Wilson, the Seahawks' quarterback) and get a fresh start," Schneider said. "We're all somewhat disappointed that he wasn't able to start from Day 1 this season. But that being said, we know that it's a long, long season and it's a marathon and we're going to do whatever we can to put our arms around him and help him out. He's going to get a second opinion, and once we have all the information, we'll make the right decision."
Schneider talked about this with Rich Gannon and Bruce Murray this morning, and expanded on all this a bit as well - so give it a listen.
- The receivers group has made some waves during camp. La Canfora points out that Stephen Williams has made an impact early, something that I've heard over and over during the first week of practices. Per La Canfora:
The Seahawks also have a sleeper in third-year receiver Stephen Williams. As the Seahawks were preparing for the Redskins in the playoffs last year, Schneider was perhaps most ecstatic that he inked Williams, a 2010 undrafted free agent originally signed by the Cardinals, to a futures contract. Williams looked very good again in today's practice, and at 6-5, 210 pounds and with great speed, he's a nice big target for Wilson -- vertically challenged -- to find.
"He been very intriguing these first four days (of camp)," Carroll said. "He gives you another big-guy presence, and I've always liked having guys like that. I kind of have a good eye for guys like that, and we're always looking at guys with different dimensions. So we're excited about him."
Carroll - "I've always like having guys like that. I kind of have a good eye for guys like that." Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett come to mind. Obviously, Carroll had a hand in signing Sidney Rice as well, and the team has dabbled with guys like 6'6 Kris Durham and 6'6 Lavasier Tuinei, and others with "different dimensions."
Williams is a guy to watch. The main detriment to him making the roster (and the reason he was eventually dropped in Arizona) is that he doesn't play special teams. I don't know if that's changed - maybe with is elite get-off speed and excellent length, they can get him running on opponent field goal attempts, trying to block kicks or something, but if he's having as strong of a camp as everyone says, I wonder if there's a way they keep him around.
- From that La Canfora report, Carroll mentioned that Sidney Rice is up 10 pounds this offseason and is 'the strongest he's ever been'. So - I'd assume Rice is up to 210 or 215 or so, which is great considering he's 6'4.