Nothing doing on a Seahawks contract extension for Doug Baldwin. Not even talks.
And that’s no big deal.
That’s what Seattle’s record-setting wide receiver told Seattle’s 950 AM radio in an interview that aired Wednesday.
“We haven’t had any talks. And to be completely honest with you I’m not too concerned with it,” Baldwin told KJR-AM’s Mitch Levy and Mike Holmgren, the former Seahawks and Packers coach, at the 3:50 mark of the interview linked above. “I’m enjoying my time with my training and my fiancee. I’m anxious to get back out there with my teammates.
“To be completely honest with you, I’m not really worried about it.”
As we discussed here on Seahawks Insider last week, Baldwin got engaged last month. That was six weeks after he finished the best season of his career. He tied for the NFL lead with a Seahawks-record 14 touchdown catches in the 2015 regular season. The 14 TDs were one fewer than he had over his first four seasons combined.
As we also discussed here, this fall will be his final season on the contract extension he signed before the 2014 season. It is paying the Seahawks’ former undrafted rookie out of Stanford $4 million. That is $500,000 less than the average pay Jermaine Kearse now has after Seattle re-signed its No. 2 wide receiver last month to keep him from leaving in free agency.
The Seahawks would not have done Kearse’s deal without a plan for taking care of Baldwin to avoid what could be a potential “walk” season in 2016.
“I have to think for what you’ve done and how you’ve grown and the relationship that you have with the quarterback (Russell Wilson, who entered the league with Seattle in 2012, the year after Baldwin did), your leadership ability -- all the good things that you bring to the table, I wouldn’t think you’d have to worry too much,” Holmgren told Baldwin regarding a new Seahawks contract.
“You will have some decisions to make, I would think, prior to the start of this next season,” Holmgren said to Baldwin.
To that, Baldwin replied: “I love my teammates. I love the city of Seattle. I’m building a home out here. This is going to be where I spend the rest of my days ...
“Again, I’m having fun playing football, man. I’m enjoying my time, I’m enjoying my life right now. So whatever happens I’m going to leave up to God. And He’ll direct me in the direction that I need to go.”
The Seahawks have $6,999,618 million in space under its 2016 salary cap after the initial push in free agency last month. That’s according to the NFL Players’ Association’s union figures. They need a few million to sign their nine choices in this month’s draft plus the undrafted free agents, like Baldwin and Kearse were, that Seattle will sign in the days after the April 28-30 draft.
The Seahawks will also have some veterans they will bring in at running back and probably offensive line into the summer, likely after cuts around the league for salary-cap savings after June 1.
So the team’s talks with Baldwin and his agent, Buddy Baker, aren’t likely to heat up until the summer. But Holmgren’s right on in thinking the Seahawks aren’t going to let Baldwin play the 2016 as a potential free agent. He is one of their homegrown guys and most respected leaders inside the locker room. General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have shown in their six years leading Seattle they take care of their own -- especially those who are among the best in the league in production.
The team won’t want to risk the temptation of what Levy asked Baldwin Wednesday, if the potential of free agency “excites” him.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Baldwin replied on KJR. “In this moment, if I had to answer that question does free agency intrigue me I’d have to say as a football player, as a person, of course. Anybody who is in this game would love the opportunity to be coveted by other teams and, you know, shown that much attention and appreciation.
“But at the same time, it’s what you truly value in life. And, you know, what I value is the relationships that I’ve formed here in Seattle and Seattle, the city as a whole. I love it here. So, again, you are right, it’s going to come down to a business decision. When that time comes, I’ll cross that bridge.
“But right now, not thinking about it too much, again. Just trying to enjoy my time with my teammates and get ready for this season.”