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The Seattle Seahawks have a DK Metcalf problem

The penalties need to stop.

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Did you know that DK Metcalf — with the exception of his second season in the league — DK Metcalf has successfully committed more penalties each season that he has been in the league? That is not good for a position where infractions should be few and far between. Self-inflicted wounds can sink a football team faster than Jim Mora can say “playoffs?” and accordingly, the Seattle Seahawks are witnessing exactly what it feels like to be on the opposite end of wide receiver temper tantrums. Remember the days of Richard Sherman goading talented wide receivers like Steve Smith into doing things like hurling a football at him in frustration? We used to celebrate these much like we would a sack or a TFL; almost anything that puts the opposing team behind the sticks is good when it doesn’t result in injury. And Metcalf has all-too-often been the reason that this team is ending up behind the sticks with his frequent, entirely unnecessary and avoidable penalties.

Leading up to yesterday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Metcalf had committed four penalties, which led all wide receivers according to Pro Football Focus. Then he marched into Ohio and committed another potentially costly one. Worthy of note, most of these occurred while the Seahawks were trailing, including yesterday. Look at the score/opponent score below.

DK Metcalf penalties in 2023

Year Date Tm Opp Quarter Time Down ToGo Location Score Opp Score Penalty Yds
Year Date Tm Opp Quarter Time Down ToGo Location Score Opp Score Penalty Yds
2023 2023-09-10 SEA LAR 4 4:36 2 2 SEA 43 13 27 Taunting / Offense 15
2023 2023-09-17 SEA DET 3 3:53 2 7 DET 7 14 21 Offensive Facemask (declined)
2023 2023-09-24 SEA CAR 3 7:36 1 10 CAR 41 15 13 Illegal Blindside Block 15
2023 2023-10-02 SEA NYG 1 3:32 1 24 SEA 18 0 0 Offensive Holding 10
2023 2023-10-15 SEA CIN 2 9:35 2 6 SEA 40 7 14 Unnecessary Roughness / Offense 15
Pro Football Reference

While Geno Smith and the rest of the offense (including DK) have often been able to heroically overcome some of these forever-to-go situations (including his latest penalty), that isn’t a sustainable recipe for success — especially if this team wants to be a legitimate playoff contender.

The sad part of all this is that almost nobody would question his talent. People may argue he is just outside the top-tier of professional pass catchers, and they may be correct, but most would say he clearly ranks among the NFL elite. For all of his incredible talents, though, he still has his moments of simply making focus mistakes (such as the confusion that led to Geno Smith’s second interception yesterday). In fact, his performance has led to some hot, hot takes about considering a trade, and these takes are starting to rear their heads on the internet.

Or rear their rears? I don’t know, I disagree with the trade-take, but I was also ready to jump ship on Pete and John following the Russell Wilson trade, so what do I know (read that as if it is written in “sarcasm” font). Unfortunately, performances like these are going to lead to more and more of these delightfully spicy-yet-unhealthy takes until we develop ulcers from the toxic acidity and public opinion turns. Clearly, fans tweeting about DK will not directly precipitate a trade, just that players can wear out their welcome with their respective organization, even when they are as talented as he is. Furthermore, players who wear out their welcome with the fanbase often don’t stick around much longer than their contract necessitates. Conversely, coaches, players, and fans are eager to see a player like Metcalf redeem himself; he will get the opportunity to turn this around.

Obviously, I’m not here to make a statistical argument against Metcalf, and I’m also not here to suggest that a trade is the right thing to do (or even a possibility at this point). I don’t want to see Metcalf playing for any franchise other than the Seattle Seahawks. DK is a fierce competitor, and the team may be able to convince him that these penalties are essentially an example of getting beat in the mental aspect of the game. He is a smart player, and a talented player, and a competitive player. He also needs to be a mature player and team leader at this point. Imagine this position group without the stable, level-headed leadership of the uncanny Tyler Lockett; No-E brings a nearly-scientific level of receiving acumen to the game, and I have never seen him loose his cool on the field.

Ultimately, I want to reiterate that this trade has an extremely low probability of happening this season. And personally, I have no desire for this team to lose Metcalf now or in the foreseeable future, particularly to an offense like the Kansas City Chiefs, as suggested above. I just simply don’t know if my body could tolerate seeing KC win another Super Bowl while DK catches ~50 passes for 2,000 yards and 12 TDs in the playoffs alone. Like the pass catching version of Frank Clark. Also, the benefit of a mid-year trade is essentially non-existent; take a look at his pre/post-June 1st trade numbers pulled from Over the Cap.

If the team is going to do something drastic, it is extremely unlikely to happen in 2023. Now, I think it will remain exceptionally unlikely in 2024, but if his penalties continue to put the team behind the sticks, you know that Pete Carroll’s patience will wear thin. Jody Allen and John Schneider have shown little hesitation to move on from players who they believe represent a net-negative to the organization. At this point, Metcalf is far from being a net-negative, but if this team finishes 5-12 and misses the playoffs after some serious offensive regression... would this organization at least start picking up the phone?