The Seattle Seahawks officially announced a three-year contract extension for wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who was set to hit free agency in 2019. Lockett figures to have a substantially increased role this season, through a combination of him being back to full health following his Christmas Eve 2016 broken leg, as well as his position as the #2 guy on the depth chart behind Doug Baldwin.
If you’ve followed John Schneider’s track record, you know that prior to Lockett, the only offensive draft picks — so UDFAs do not count — that he’d given extensions to are Russell Wilson and Justin Britt. That’s it. Luke Willson technically re-signed with the Seahawks following his rookie deal, but that was a one-year contract during free agency, and obviously he’s gone.
Barring something drastic, this assures that Seattle’s top two receivers are under contract until at least 2020. Doug Baldwin’s current deal expires in 2020, whereas Lockett’s takes him through 2021.
I believe the single worst move of the Schneider era was the Percy Harvin trade. It indirectly cost the Seahawks Golden Tate, and when Harvin was jettisoned by mid-2014, Seattle’s receiving corps was.... well it wasn’t very good outside of Baldwin. Pedestrian, if you will. Jermaine Kearse was essentially the #2 target, followed by rookie Paul Richardson (who tore his ACL in the playoffs), Ricardo Lockette at #4, and the immortal Bryan Walters at #5. When Richardson went down, Chris Matthews was promoted and the Seahawks fielded literally nothing but UDFAs at WR in the Super Bowl.
While this isn’t an identical situation, Schneider doesn’t want a repeat of what happened in 2014, and I wouldn’t have really been keen on the stretch of not re-signing any of Tate, Richardson, or Lockett. If you use this hypothetical 53-man roster from Kenneth Arthur, this is Seattle’s WR depth chart for 2018:
Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Brandon Marshall, Jaron Brown, David Moore, Amara Darboh
Neither Marshall nor Darboh are guaranteed roster spots in 2018, and Marshall is a free agent in 2019 anyway. I know Moore has been a preseason sensation, but he’s still untested in regular season play. Darboh has nine career receptions to his name. Brown is on a two-year deal and only has 86 receptions through five years, with 2017 by far his best season. As much as we’ve seen promise out of the UDFAs in preseason, a Lockett-less Seahawks WR group in 2019 is not that strong.
Baldwin has established himself as one of the league’s best slot receivers, while Lockett’s stellar rookie campaign (15th in DYAR and DVOA) showed off his abilities both as a pass-catcher and a kick/punt returner. Even in 2017, while admittedly 75-80%, he had more receptions (45) on fewer targets (71) than Richardson (44 on 80) in a contract year. The key difference obviously is that Lockett had a career-low 12.3 YPC and just two touchdowns, but the promise is still there. I’d have rather kept Richardson than Lockett, but Lockett is cheaper, more valuable on special teams, and even with the broken leg he still doesn’t have Richardson’s injury history that dates back to college. With Lockett healthy again, the best may be yet to come, and that’s a major plus for Russell Wilson and this Seahawks offense.