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Why the Seahawks should keep their current receivers, add another veteran to the group

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Divisional Round - Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Over the weekend, I posted an article that asked: Should the Seahawks try to capitalize on the current wide receiver market? That article focused on the idea of trading DK Metcalf and offered hypothetical trade proposals for sending him to the Philadelphia Eagles the New Orleans Saints, the Washington Commanders, or the New York Jets.

Passionate discussion ensued.

Today, I’m proposing a different approach. And, no, that approach isn’t to trade Tyler Lockett instead of DK.

Let’s assume, for the purpose of discussion, that the Seahawks are committed to keeping DK Metcalf (at least for now) and intend to sign him to a long-term extension.

In one of the polls at the end of the article, we’ll find out how much the 12s think Seattle should be willing to pay to lock down #14.

Before that though, we’re going to look at something else.



Adding a veteran receiver

Back on March 7th, Field Gulls’ fearless leader, Mookie Alexander, wrote an article about the Seahawks reportedly ‘asking around’ on the wide receiver market ahead of free agency. Three weeks later, I gotta ask, “What the heck happened to that?”

The short answer, of course, is that the wideout market appears to have settled at a price point higher than Seattle wants to pay.

The market craziness started with the Jacksonville Jaguarsbreaking the market” by giving Christian Kirk a 4-year, $72M contract ($18M APY) with a maximum value of $84M if he hits all of his incentives/escalators.

Jacksonville’s overpay (either directly or indirectly) led to the crazy-expensive contracts that Davante Adams (5/$140M) and Tyreek Hill (4/$120M) signed when they were traded to the Las Vegas Raiders and Miami Dolphins, respectively.

And the combination of those 3 contracts raised / is raising the entire market.

Note: In comparison to the Kirk, Adams, and Hill contracts, the 3-year, $46.5M deal that Allen Robinson signed with the Los Angeles Rams seems like an absolute bargain.

Naturally, the short answer, above, requires the assumption that Seattle was “asking around” ahead of free agency because they were interested in adding an established veteran wideout. The question then becomes whether they were looking for a complement to the dynamic duo of Lockett and Metcalf or if they were looking for a potential replacement (or two).

For today’s discussion, we’re going to assume it was the former and not the latter.



Wide Receiver options for Seattle

To recap, Seattle is (hypothetically) committed to keeping DK Metcalf (and Tyler Lockett) on the roster for 2022 and is interested in adding a veteran wideout to compete against Dee Eskridge and Freddie Swain for the WR3 role.

Since we’re talking about Seattle acquiring a veteran player, anyone in the 2022 NFL Draft is “off limits” (for now).

Also, since Tyler Lockett already has a top-15 contract and DK is likely on the verge of getting a top-5 contract, we’ll set the max salary for the new WR3 at around $8M a year (which will probably rule out someone like Jarvis Landry or Will Fuller the Fifth).

Here, in alphabetical order, are 3 free agent wideouts that the Seahawks could be interested in, and 3 pass catchers that might be available via trade:

A.J. Green (UFA)

The Seahawks benefit and the division-rival Arizona Cardinals take a hit. What’s not to like? I mean, aside from Green’s age (34 when the season starts) and diminished production over the past few years? Dude’s still got some gas in the tank and would make a helluva complementary player with DK and NoE shouldering most of the load.

Green’s 2021 stat line reads: 54 receptions on 92 targets for 848 yards and 3 TDs in 16 games (9 starts). 37 of his 54 catches resulted in a first down.

Note: For the sake of comparison, Green’s 848 yards last season is more than Seattle’s 3rd-most-productive pass catcher (Gerald Everett, 478) and 4th-most-productive pass-catcher (Freddie Swain, 343) combined.

PFF projects a 1-year, $7.25M fully-guaranteed contract for Green. I think he’d have already signed if anyone was offering that deal. My guess is that his 2022 salary ends up being south of $6M - in spite of the crazy market.


DeVante Parker

DeVante Parker is currently under contract with the Miami Dolphins through 2023. However, with the Dolphins having recently acquired Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs, Parker may be / probably is expendable.

If traded, his cap hits for the acquiring team would be $6,044,118 in 2022 ($6.25M max) and $6.3M in 2023 with zero guaranteed money either year.

Parker’s 2021 stat line was respectable: 40 receptions (on 73 targets) for 515 yards with 2 touchdowns. 29 of his 40 receptions resulted in a first down.

The caveat here is that Parker only played in 10 games last season, and he has only played a full season once in 7 years. But when he’s healthy, DeVante Parker is a handful - as evidenced by that one complete season: 72 receptions on 128 targets for 1,202 yards (16.7 average) with 9 TDs.

Most of the articles I’ve seen say that Parker could be acquired for a mid-round pick (i.e., Round 3 or Round 4), which means either pick #72 or pick #109 for Seattle.

Would he be worth that to Seattle?


Emmanuel Sanders (UFA)

Did you know that Emmanuel Sanders is only 564 days younger than Duane Brown? Now you do. My point? Dude is old. In fact, there were only 4 wideouts older than him in the NFL last season.

On the bright side, Sanders smoked the older guys statistically.

Here are Sanders’ 2021 stats: 14 games played (13 starts), 42 receptions on 72 targets for 626 yards (14.9 average) with 4 TDs. 31 of his 42 receptions resulted in a first down.

If Sanders had been on Seattle’s roster last season and recorded those numbers, he’d have been 4th in receptions, 3rd in targets, 3rd in yards, and tied for 3rd in touchdowns.

PFF predicts a 1-year, $5M contract with all $5M fully guaranteed.

I think he’s probably worth that.

Minus the guarantees.

Note: For what it’s worth, A.J. Green (aka the first player on this list of wideouts Seattle might be interested in) was the 7th-oldest receiver last season.


Laviska Shenault

I had honestly never heard of this cat before I started this article. Which is a little bit surprising since he was the 42nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

In theory, Shenault should not be available this early in his career. However, the Jacksonville Jaguars gave Christian Kirk $18M a year in free agency and then backed that up by signing Zay Jones to a 3-year, $30M contract, and that combination could usher Shenault out the door. If so, the acquiring team would only be on the hook for about $3M over the next 2 seasons ($1,309,642 in 2022 and $1,659,463 in 2023).

Here’s what I don’t get though:

  • Laviska Shenault in 2021: 16 games (10 starts), 63 receptions on 100 targets (63.0%) for 619 yards (9.8 YPC) with 0 touchdowns
  • Zay Jones in 2021: 17 games (9 starts), 47 receptions on 70 targets (67.1%) for 546 yards (11.6 YPC) with 1 touchdown

—————

  • Laviska Shenault in 2020: 14 games (12 starts), 58 receptions on 79 targets (73.4%) for 600 yards (10.3 YPC) with 5 touchdowns
  • Zay Jones in 2020: 16 games (2 starts), 14 receptions on 20 targets (70.0%) for 154 yards (11.6 YPC) with 1 touchdown

—————

  • Laviska Shenault, 2-year total: 30 games (22 starts), 121 receptions on 179 targets (67.6%) for 1,219 yards (10.1 YPC) with 6 TDs
  • Zay Jones, 2-year total: 33 games (11 starts), 61 receptions on 90 targets (67.8%) for 700 yards (11.5 YPC) with 2 TDs

Aside from a snide, “Because they’re the Jaguars,” why give Zay Jones $10M a year when he’s basically the same receiver as a guy you’ve got on a rookie contract?

Makes no sense.

Could be good for the Seahawks though.

If DeVante Parker is worth an R3 or R4 then I would think that Laviska Shenault could probably be acquired for a high-R5 ... which Seattle happens to have two of (#152 + #153 overall).


Darius Slayton

Slayton was the 171st pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He started 9 games for the New York Giants his rookie season and finished the year with 48 catches for 740 yards and 8 TDs.

Slayton was a full-time starter the next season and while his receptions and yards finished a tick ahead of 2019 (50 catches for 751 yards), his TDs fell from 8 to 3, his catch percentage dropped from 57.1% to 52.1%, and there was some definite concern by year’s end about the direction he was trending.

In 2021, Slayton only started 5 games but appeared in 13. He was targeted 58 times but only caught 26 of those passes (44.8%). He finished the season with 339 yards and 2 TDs.

Based on the above, you might be wondering why I think the Seahawks would be interested in him. The answer is threefold.

One. Slayton is, at best, WR4 on the Giants’ depth chart right now and it seems as if just about everyone in New York has given up on him. This is good for the Seahawks because it means the trade cost should be relatively low, perhaps an R6 (in 2023, since Seattle doesn’t currently have one in this year’s draft) or an R7. Heck, there are some who believe that acquiring Slayton may only take a Day 3 pick-swap (ex. #152 for #161 or #229 for #237).

Two. Pete likes players with a chip on their shoulder and Slayton ought to have one given how he’s been misused by the Giants.

Let me explain that statement.

During his best season (2019), Slayton was in the slot only 4.4% of the time. That jumped to 19.6% in 2020 and he lined up in the slot 16.8% of the time last year.

In Seattle, Lockett is the primary slot receiver, having lined up there 41.3% of the time in 2021, 60.1% of the time in 2020, and a career-high 69.2% of the time in 2019. That means Slayton could line up outside if he played for the Seahawks and show the Giants that they messed up.

Three. Slayton’s playing time over his first 3 seasons triggered a performance escalator which bumped his 2022 salary to $2.54M. It seems unlikely that the Giants will keep him on the roster at that price.

That said, Slayton’s 2022 contract doesn’t include any guaranteed money which means Seattle could trade for him, carry him through the preseason, and cut him loose (at no cost) if it doesn’t work out.

Add it all up and you’ve got the definition of a buy-low trade. Acquiring Slayton is basically all upside with almost zero risk.


Sammy Watkins (UFA)

Watkins burst onto the scene at the 4th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, amassing 982 yards on 65 receptions (15.1 YPC) across 16 games. Watkins topped that the next year with 1,047 yards on 60 receptions (17.5 YPC) despite playing only 13 games. And then ...

He sort of fell off a cliff.

  • 2016: 8 games (all starts), 28 catches, 430 yards, 2 TDs
  • 2017: 15 games (14 starts), 39 catches, 593 yards, 8 TDs
  • 2018: 10 games (9 starts), 40 catches, 519 yards, 3 TDs
  • 2019: 14 games (13 starts), 52 catches, 673 yards, 3 TDs
  • 2020: 10 games (9 starts), 37 catches, 421 yards, 2 TDs
  • 2021: 13 games (9 starts), 27 catches, 394 yards, 1 TD

To be clear, Watson still represents a “danger” to opposing defenses - especially if they “forget” about him for a play or three. With D.K. and NoE drawing attention away from him and even a modestly-decent quarterback throwing the ball, Watkins could have a heckuva season.

PFF projects that Watkins will sign a 1-year, $5M contract with all $5M guaranteed. I think they’re insane. My gut says low(ish) base salary + incentives and maybe he can earn $5M in 2022 - but $3M, maybe $3.5M seems more likely.



Head-to-head comparisons

Here are the 2021 stats for each of the 6 receivers featured in today’s article:

And here is some other relevant information about each of them:



Poll time!

Let’s start with the poll that I promised in the intro.

Q: How much do you think the Seahawks should be willing to pay (on an annual basis) to retain DK Metcalf long-term?

Poll

How much do you think the Seahawks should be willing to pay to retain D.K. Metcalf long-term?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    $10M per year, MAX.
    (30 votes)
  • 15%
    Up to (but not more than) the $17.25M per year that they’re paying Tyler Lockett.
    (183 votes)
  • 39%
    Up to, but not more than $20M per year.
    (473 votes)
  • 32%
    Up to, but not more than $25M per year.
    (392 votes)
  • 2%
    Up to, but not more than $30M per year.
    (35 votes)
  • 7%
    Whatever it takes to keep him long-term.
    (86 votes)
1199 votes total Vote Now

Now let’s do a couple of polls about a potential veteran addition to Seattle’s current group of wide receivers.

Q: Do you think Seattle should add/acquire another veteran wide receiver?

Poll

Do you think Seattle should add/acquire another veteran wide receiver?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Yes.
    (667 votes)
  • 37%
    No.
    (396 votes)
1063 votes total Vote Now

Q: (If you voted Yes to the previous poll) Which of the featured receivers would you prefer to have Seattle sign or acquire?

Poll

Which of the featured receivers would you prefer to have Seattle sign or acquire?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    A.J. Green
    (180 votes)
  • 8%
    DeVante Parker
    (87 votes)
  • 6%
    Emmanuel Sanders
    (61 votes)
  • 36%
    Laviska Shenault
    (354 votes)
  • 12%
    Darius Slayton
    (121 votes)
  • 10%
    Sammy Watkins
    (106 votes)
  • 6%
    Someone else
    (67 votes)
976 votes total Vote Now

Bonus Poll

Q: Given all of the options, what do you think the Seahawks should do in regard to DK Metcalf?

Poll

Given all of the options, what do you think the Seahawks should do in regard to D.K. Metcalf?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Trade him now while the market is primed for a stellar return
    (375 votes)
  • 6%
    Trade him later (i.e. after the 2022 season, with a franchise tag attached)
    (69 votes)
  • 60%
    Pay the man! (and keep him long-term)
    (692 votes)
1136 votes total Vote Now