RENTON -- With Doug Baldwin's career with the Seahawks coming to an end, the team will need to find some way moving forward to replace the production of the second-most prolific receiver in franchise history.
The Seahawks will find players to take his snaps. Whether those players will have any chance of rivaling Baldwin's production over the last eight seasons in another question altogether.
Baldwin was released by the team last month and all indications are that he intends to retire from football after numerous injuries piled up last season. Baldwin amassed 493 catches for 6,563 yards and 49 touchdowns. He became the first Seahawks receiver to make a Pro Bowl in nearly 20 years, set a franchise record for touchdown catches in a season with 14 in 2015, and was Russell Wilson's most trusted target over the last six seasons.
While Tyler Lockett proved he can be an extremely effective option last season, Seattle will need more than one viable target in their passing attack. To adequately replace Baldwin, the production is going to have to come from a variety of different places.
"The NFL is change, right? And that’s part of the deal," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said after practice on Tuesday.
The Seahawks added three wide receivers through the draft and two more as undrafted free agents as they planned for Baldwin's impending departure. D.K. Metcalf, Greg Jennings, John Ursua, Terry Wright and Jazz Ferguson join returners Lockett, Jaron Brown, David Moore, Amara Darboh, Keenan Reynolds, Malik Turner and Caleb Scott as the collection of options to take over the baton.
"There’s been a lot of guys in that room who’ve stepped up," Schottenheimer said. "Keenan Reynolds is having a great camp. Jaron Brown, he’s not a young guy, but wow, talking about just an unbelievable camp, I mean, really stepping up. Those guys are growing, they’re developing. It’ll be fun to watch them.”
Schottenheimer singled out Moore and Brown as being two players that could see far greater production this season.
"Jaron Brown is a guy we all have a lot of respect for. He never questioned one thing we tried to do with him last year. He did the heavy lifting, a lot of the blocking responsibilities and things like that," Schottenheimer said.
"(Moore)’s so much more comfortable right now. Last year he was kind of a one position kind of guy. Now we’re moving him all over the place. It’s been cool to see those guys just take the next step."
While the rookies will be a focal point because they represent the shiny new objects to the group, it will fall upon Lockett to carry the position group after a stellar 2018. Lockett caught 57 passes for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns to carry the team with Baldwin slowed by injuries. Russell Wilson had a perfect 158.3 passer ratings on passes with Lockett as the intended target.
While Lockett is now the longest tenured member of the receiving corps, his idea of leadership will not be to mimic Baldwin's fiery persona. Instead, Lockett knows he has to be himself and do things his way.
"I think the biggest thing that I learned when it comes to Doug is you have to be yourself," Lockett said. "I have to be able to understand who I am as a leader and what I bring to the team as a leader. The things that he brought, I was able to learn from that and I was able to see that. But he also taught me how to be myself because if I can’t be myself, everybody else won’t be able to accept the message that I’m trying to allow them to be able to receive."
Metcalf has impressed early with his physical talents. Ursua is just getting into the mix after a hamstring strain kept him sidelined early in offseason work, and Jennings is still sitting out due to a hamstring strain as well. However, the Seahawks are excited to see what the group they have is capable of and believe they have all the talent necessary for the offense to produce.
"We certainly believe so," Schottenheimer said. "We believe that adding those guys to the guys that we had – David Moore coming off of a good year last year – is exciting. Jaron Brown, I just mentioned him earlier, but he did so much of the dirty work for us last year that you kind of forgot—we kind of forgot—that he’s a really established receiver and he’s looked dynamic out here. Of course, Tyler, monster year last year, he’s going to lead the charge. But we’ll be fine in that regard.”
Photo Credit: LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Wide receiver Tyler Lockett #16 of the Seattle Seahawks laughs with teammates David Moore #83 and Jaron Brown #18 after his touchdown catch to take a 21-20 lead in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)