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Why the Seahawks’ quest for a WR3 is overrated

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

When Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore departed for the Carolina Panthers, it meant much for the offseason speculators, but the impact for the Seahawks has been overblown.

In fact, the “WR3” search has not produced any big-name incomers to the team in part because the third wide receiver is not historically very meaningful for Russell Wilson.

As the third option at WR for Russell Wilson last year, Moore took with him 35 receptions for 417 yards and six touchdowns. For the first time in his career Moore had a catch percentage above 50%, and it earned him a pay raise somewhere else.

It was also the first time in five years that Seattle’s WR3 was in fact the third leading receiver for the team. Even still, Moore had fewer receptions than Chris Carson. Additionally he was a full 50 receptions behind D.K. Metcalf for third among the pass catchers.

In 2019 Moore was the team’s third wide receiver in terms of targets. Moore had 17 receptions on 34 targets for 301 yards and 2 TD. Those receptions were fewer than both Jacob Hollister and Will Dissly.

In 2018 Moore was WR3 again. He went 26 of 53 for 445 yards and 5 TD. He was behind Nick Vannett in targets.

In 2017 the team’s WR3 was Paul Richardson. 44/80 for 703 and 6 TD. Behind Jimmy Graham.

2016 was complicated. Jermaine Kearse, effectively WR3, was 41 of 89 for 510 and 1 TD. Sophomore Tyler Lockett saw 23 fewer targets than Kearse and had a late-season leg break but also had 41 completions, and 87 more yards. Again, both players were behind Graham in the passing game.

Let’s add 2015 as it was basically the same. Doug Baldwin at the top, Lockett and Kearse neck-and-neck as WR2 and WR3, with 49 and 51 receptions. Both saw fewer targets than Graham.

Going beyond that takes us into the years when Marshawn Lynch was a better receiver than the third option more often than not.

The fact remains that Seattle did what they needed to do this offseason to address what they needed. John Schneider went and upgraded the third passing threat on the offense, which is found in TE Gerald Everett. Whether it’s Freddie Swain or a future acquisition, it simply hasn’t been a large season-long impact for Russell Wilson. I say Wilson because while Shane Waldron would presumably change that, Wilson’s been under multiple Offensive Coordinators to similar results.

Wilson really enjoys throwing to tight ends. The addition of Everett from the Los Angeles Rams will have a greater impact on the offense as a whole this season and is why the team gave him the $6 million they did. The return of Chris Carson and his success as a pass catcher last year only cements that whoever is WR3 in 2021 will not make or break the team.