Despite no headline-grabbing additions in the offseason, the Seahawks’ wide receiver group is among the team’s most exciting—thanks to the co-headliners. Tyler Lockett, fresh off the best season of his career (despite being hobbled by an injury for almost half the season), has become borderline unstoppable out of the slot and his connection with Russell Wilson only furthers that. Last year’s super rookie, DK Metcalf, expanded his game throughout 2019 and will continue to combine high-level football intelligence with gaudy physical traits on the way to hitting his ceiling—wherever that may be.
What will the rest of the wide receiver corps look like in 2020, and what can be expected?
The cancellation of preseason ended what could have been an exciting battle at the bottom of the receiver depth chart. Instead, Seattle will likely enter the regular season with Lockett, Metcalf, free agent addition Phillip Dorsett, David Moore, and one or both of John Ursua and Penny Hart.
If the Seahawks choose to keep just five wide receivers, it will lead to a fascinating competition between Hart, Ursua, and Freddie Swain. Whoever sticks out of that trio could end up playing a sizable role in the offense, with Dorsett and Moore both not entirely convincing.
The biggest dark horse contributor, however, is not yet on the roster—or reinstated by the league. All signs point to Josh Gordon getting reinstated in the near future and returning to Seattle. If and when that happens, Gordon should be expected to be a core contributor for the Seahawks. Those his numbers were modest in his brief time with Seattle a year ago, the level of comfort Wilson had in him was immediately apparent.
I don't know what Josh Gordon's future holds or if Seattle wants to re-sign him, but the Seahawks could add a WR and 6/7 completions to Gordon were among the easiest for Russell Wilson all season.— Alistair Corp (@byalistaircorp) May 21, 2020
Made some tough grabs look easy, was just a super reliable possession receiver: pic.twitter.com/9M2cGqkpO8
Reason for optimism
From top to bottom, the wide receiver corps oozes upside.
Before suffering an injury that clearly bothered him down the stretch, Lockett was on pace for 105 catches, 1,364 yards, and 11 touchdowns. He still registered career highs in catches and yards and should post a second-consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2020. For the first time in Pete Carroll’s tenure, the Seahawks should have two 1,000-yard wide receivers with Metcalf joining Lockett, following a 900-yard rookie campaign.
Behind them, Dorsett projects as an excellent fit in Seattle’s offense. A pure vertical threat, Dorsett was miscast with the Patriots and Tom Brady’s aging arm strength.
Which WRs EPA on “Go” routes was hurt the most by poor throws last year? Holy moly Stefon Diggs pic.twitter.com/a9HbdDRpxD— Sam Struthers (@Sam_S35) May 31, 2020
Now, he’ll be with a quarterback who led the NFL in air yards in 2019 and throws perhaps the best deep ball in the sport. Even in a small role, Dorsett can help to stretch the field and be rewarded by a quarterback who is able to hit him in stride.
Before the Metcalf experience thrilled in 2019, Moore blossomed into a fun, playmaking threat in 2018. An uber-athlete capable of stretching a defense and creating after the catch, Moore carved out a role on the ‘18 Seahawks as a much-needed contested-catch receiver. In 2019, he was expected to replicate that role as expectations for Metcalf remained tempered. However, an August shoulder fracture delayed the start to the season—though he did make an accelerated recovery. As a receiver who wins above the rim, any sort of hampered shoulder/arm mobility would have an obvious impact—an impact such as Moore’s disappointing 2019 season. Fully healthy in 2020, Moore should be expected to bounce back and provide Seattle’s offense with another unique skillset in a varied group.
Where it could go wrong
After Lockett’s injury in Week 10 last season, Wilson topped 250 yards passing only once. At times, it looked like the offense had absolutely no ideas when the trusty “inexplicable Wilson-Lockett completion” option wasn’t available. Even with expected growth from Metcalf, the Seahawks’ offense would be in trouble should Lockett—or Metcalf, for that matter—miss an extended amount of time.
Wilson began his career with a loaded wide receiver corps—at least on paper—with Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice, and Percy Harvin. When healthy, his wide receivers in 2020 are as talented of a group as he has ever had, especially at the top. As Wilson prepares to take another run at MVP, he’ll have two dynamic, star talents at wide receiver to help him along the way.