Seattle Seahawks

Doug Baldwin has told Seahawks he may retire. Pro Bowl WR, team in process exploring that end

Doug Baldwin has told Seahawks he is considering retirement, GM John Schneider, coach Pete Carroll say

Pro Bowl veteran wide receiver Doug Baldwin, Russell Wilson’s foo target, has told Seahawks he is considering retirement, GM John Schneider, coach Pete Carroll say during the NFL draft.
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Pro Bowl veteran wide receiver Doug Baldwin, Russell Wilson’s foo target, has told Seahawks he is considering retirement, GM John Schneider, coach Pete Carroll say during the NFL draft.

At the same time the Seahawks and the rest of the NFL are starting new careers for hundreds of players, Doug Baldwin has become yet another example of how suddenly they can end in this sport.

Baldwin has told the Seahawks he is considering retirement.

The Pro Bowl veteran wide receiver, Russell Wilson’s favorite target for years who tied Seattle’s franchise record for catches in 2016, is going through a process with the NFL, his team and the players’ union toward that possible end.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll revealed that news about its longest-tenured offensive player Friday night. It was a couple hours after Seattle drafted hulking wide receiver D.K. Metcalf from Mississippi with the second of Seattle’s two choices in the second round of the NFL draft.

Baldwin, 30, had his third surgery of this offseason three weeks ago, for a sports-hernia abdominal issue. He also had surgeries on his knee and shoulder since he and the Seahawks last played in January, in the playoff loss at Dallas. He spoke in December that he was thinking during his injury-filled 2018 about how much longer he would play football.

Has Baldwin expressed to you he may retire?

“Considering it, yeah,” Schneider said Friday night. “But there’s a process that we have to go through.

“We know Doug is going to have a hard time. There is a process we need to go through with Doug. At that point with (drafting) D.K., that really didn’t weigh in.”

How recently did Baldwin express that he was considering retirement?

“None of your freakin’ business,” Schneider said, before flashing a disarming grin.

“We just can’t get into it, really.”

The News Tribune’s Gregg Bell: the cold reality of Doug Baldwin’s future, plus the Seahawks’ trades, picks on day 2 of the NFL draft.

Schneider and Carroll were measuring their words out of respect for Baldwin making his own decisions. But signs are clearly pointing toward their undrafted rookie free agent out of Stanford in 2010 who became a Super Bowl champion and $46 million receiver among the top stars in the NFL at his position retiring before the 2019 season.

“He has been an extraordinary part of this program since we’ve been here,” Carroll said. “He has given us everything he has had. He’s been a great competitor and player and all that. And we believe in him and trust him so much that wherever this goes, we are going to support him. Forever.

“He has been a great contributor , in so many ways, not only on the team but in the community and in so many ways. He’s been awesome.

“We’ll see what happens. And he’s working through it. We are going to follow Doug on this one.”

Schneider added: “It’s just a process. We are trying to respect Doug as much as we can.”

Baldwin missed his first games in 6 1/2 years last season because of knee, groin and shoulder injuries that began in August and bothered him through year’s end.

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin in the raucous Seahawks’ locker room on his team’s latest huge rally, past Carolina.

In 2018 he finished with 50 receptions for 618 yards and five touchdowns in 2018 inside Seattle’s run-first offense that led the league in rushing. It was his second-fewest catches for a season of his career, after 29 in 2012. He scored five touchdowns, his fewest in six seasons. In 2015 he co-led the league with 14 touchdown receptions.

He has two years and $19.5 million in salary remaining on his contract. Of course, that money is not guaranteed. Few things are in the NFL.

The process to which Schneider referred could be ways for Seattle to manage their salary cap acceleration should Baldwin retire. Seattle would save $6.86 million on its salary cap for 2019 if Baldwin officially retires before June 1. After June 1, the team would save $10 million.

The Seahawks also could wait until training camp begins in late July to give Baldwin a failed-physical designation, to potentially get him more of his money scheduled on his contract through next year.

His current deal is from the $46 million extension he signed in the summer of 2016, a year removed from Seattle’s second consecutive Super Bowl. He was still in his prime then, still in his 20s.

Not anymore.

“Oh, I am on the downside of my career. I’m 30 years old,” Baldwin said in December.

“I would not be able to play at the caliber I’m playing now at 38,” he joked.

“I am definitely on the downside.”

Asked in December if he thinks about his future, whether he will be a Seahawk in 2019 with this team in a successful youth movement, Baldwin chuckled.

“I do,” he said.

“But if you know me, you know I always have a plan. ...If you know me, you know I’ve got a plan for everything. The method to the madness.”
Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.