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The Seahawks will soon have major decisions to make at wide receiver

Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

While the Seattle Seahawks passing offense sputtered towards the end of the season, 2020 still saw a major second-year leap for DK Metcalf, a career-high 100 receptions for Tyler Lockett, and career-best numbers almost across the board for David Moore.

Now picture for a moment that only Metcalf is on the Seahawks roster in 2021. Unthinkable? Not necessarily.

Lockett is entering the final year of his contract and according to Overthecap.com, cutting or trading him would incur $2.7 million in dead money but $12.7 million in cap savings for a team that is projected to be in a pretty hellish cap situation. If we take the contracts as they are at present, Lockett, Duane Brown, Carlos Dunlap, and Bobby Wagner are the ones who can save the Seahawks the most cap space and not take a massive hit (or any hit) in dead money. I’d like to think they’ll keep everyone but that might not be practical.

There’s no reason to believe Lockett is in decline and he’s clearly been a valuable part of the Seahawks passing game (and briefly, kick/punt return game) throughout his career, but it’s a business and the emergence of DK Metcalf combined with a new offensive coordinator may cause Seattle to rethink whether Lockett should be a part of the team’s long-term plans on offense.

As for Moore, he had his contract restructured just to be assured of a roster spot in 2020 and he is now an unrestricted free agent. His development from a seventh-round pick from an obscure university into a viable third-option in the Seahawks passing game is quite significant. After consecutive seasons in which he barely managed a 50% catch rate, his 35 catches in 2020 came on 47 targets, which is basically a 75% catch rate.

Rounding out the top four is rookie Freddie Swain, who made the most of his limited playing time with 13 catches for 159 yards and a couple of touchdowns on just 21 targets. He also runs back kicks and if Seattle doesn’t re-sign Moore then he pretty much becomes new David Moore. We know that Moore handled punt return duties but there’s no reason to go back to that with DJ Reed on the roster.

The other big storyline for this offseason is for the NFL as a whole. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but before taking into account the inevitability of many of these players getting re-signed by their current teams, it’s shaping up to be one hell of a free agent class for wide receivers.

Notable 2021 UFA WR free agents

Allen Robinson
T.Y. Hilton
Sammy Watkins
Marvin Jones
Corey Davis
Will Fuller (who will be suspended for two games in 2021 for PED use)
Curtis Samuel
Kenny Golladay
Chris Godwin
Nelson Agholor
JuJu Smith-Schuster
Rashard Higgins
Kendrick Bourne
Josh Reynolds (for the Shane Waldron connection)
A.J. Green
John Ross (for the usual Washington Huskies link/reclamation project)

Outside of Green, Hilton, and Jones, everyone else I’ve listed is under 30 years of age. I said that many will likely be re-signed by their teams but that doesn’t mean all of them.

If the salary cap wasn’t a thing, I’d be all-in on signing Curtis Samuel. His versatility as a receiver and as a running back is something that I believe could suit the Seahawks offense very well. Rashard Higgins is someone who could replace David Moore in that WR3 should Moore head elsewhere. Allen Robinson is a talented receiver who’s spent too much of his career playing with Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky. Nelson Agholor hasn’t actually fixed his dropsies but is if nothing else, quite fast and can take the top off a defense. I’m a fan of Kenny Golladay above everyone else in terms of his fit with Russell Wilson but his price range may not jive with the cap, even coming off injury.

I think the Seahawks really can upgrade at receiver whether they keep Lockett or not. They are constantly losing yards on the field without even knowing it. Seattle ranked near the bottom once again in broken tackles, and half of their 16 came from DK Metcalf while the rest of the wide receiver depth chart scrounged up just 3.

For context, the Rams have consistently been among the league leaders in yards after catch and broken tackles under Sean McVay.

Rams passing offense

2018: 6th in YAC/reception, 13th in broken tackles

2019: 6th in YAC/reception, 1st in broken tackles

2020: 5th in YAC/reception, 3rd in broken tackles

Contrast that with...

Seahawks passing offense

2018: 26th in YAC/reception, 28th in broken tackles

2019: 23rd in YAC/reception, 27th in broken tackles

2020: 24th in YAC/reception, 29th in broken tackles

It’s easy to point to McVay’s system and while it is true that he has a YAC friendly scheme, personnel matters. David Moore has been credited with 2 broken tackles, all in the 2019 season. Tyler Lockett has 2 since 2018 and both of them were this season. Cooper Kupp had 12 just in 2020. Of the NFL leaders in YAC/reception, Chris Carson was the highest-placed Seahawk at 26th in the NFL. David Moore was next at 4.8 YAC/rec. That ranks 74th overall and behind two Rams receivers and both of their tight ends.

Seattle has limited draft capital next year and even with the inevitability of John Schneider trading his way into having more draft picks than what he started with, I don’t expect them to take a receiver early. I haven’t watched remotely enough college football to even have a name suitable for the team to select, seeing as neither Devonte Smith nor Ja’Marr Chase is going to fall out of the first round. That leaves the Seahawks with two likely options:

1.) Leave the wide receiver corps as is and hope Waldron can get even more out of them with his offense. I’d personally they rather not do this. I think we’ve overrated the talent level on the offense for too long relative to the superior depth of the current contenders and Super Bowl teams.

2.) Be active in free agency, take a receiver in the mid-late rounds again, and shake up the depth chart. This does mean potentially trading or far less likely releasing Lockett (which would be a bummer and deeply unpopular), and absolutely means not keeping Moore who may attract interest from other teams anyway. It may be a necessary shake-up to find new ways to have a more efficient and dangerous passing offense.

Whatever route Seattle chooses, the decision in itself is hugely important in an offseason filled with important roster decisions to make.