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Seahawks 30 under 30: Is the world ready for “Happy Doug Baldwin”?

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Minicamp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks have a very good roster, but what's especially nice and hopeful about their team is that the vast majority of current Seahawks are young and signed through 2017, at least. This series leading up to the regular season opener on September 11 will take a closer look at 30 such players, all of whom won't be turning 30 this year.

Player: Doug Baldwin, WR

Age: 28 on September 21

How acquired: Undrafted free agent in 2011

Free agent: 2021

It’s very possible that history won’t remember the Doug Baldwin that you knew of before 2015. Over his first four seasons in the NFL, Baldwin averaged 49 catches, 689 yards, and he scored a total of 15 touchdowns. Then last season, he caught 78 passes for 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns. After a fairly substantial career, Baldwin almost doubled his scoring total in one season.

But it’s not entirely unprecedented and there’s every chance that the best of Doug has yet to come.

The first player I think of is Cris Carter, a former player disliked by many Seahawks fans because of some comments he made about Seattle’s receivers prior to Super Bowl XLVIII, calling Baldwin and his teammates “pedestrian.” I don’t think of him because the two shall ever be linked in NFL media history, but because of the fact that Carter too wasn’t much of a player to start his career.

From 1987 to 1992, Carter averaged 40 catches, 584 yards, and six touchdowns per season. He was 28, basically the same age as Doug is now, when he had his first 1,000 yard season in 1993. Over the next nine years, Carter averaged 95 catches, 1,147 yards, and 11 touchdowns per season, playing with QBs like Jim McMahon, Sean Salisbury, Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, and Jeff George. (He only briefly played with Daunte Culpepper, and even then, Culpepper was a rookie/second-year player.)

Carter benefited from the arrival of Randy Moss in 1998, but was well on his way to Hall of Fame success by then. And all for a player who was one of the most “pedestrian” wide receivers in the NFL over the first six years of his career. The same type of success could be coming for Baldwin, and the angry veteran receiver has even more advantages at his disposal than Carter did:

He’s been locked in with an elite QB for the last four years and that doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. The NFL also allows for much more passing in the current era than it did in the 80s and 90s, and Baldwin seems the perfect fit as perhaps the best slot receiver in the league. He’s not yet 28, he’s paid, he’s well on his way to being a perennial 1,000-yard receiver, and he’s getting the respect he’s craved his entire life. I don’t know what he even has to be angry about anymore.

But maybe the Doug Baldwin we knew of from 2011-2014 is no more. Could this be the era of “Happy Doug Baldwin”?