Three years ago, the Seahawks gave $11 million per year to a wide receiver who had never played a down for them.
No surprise: Like all of the big-money receiver deals Seattle has made over the last decade, Percy Harvin did not work out. On top of that, the Hawks lost Golden Tate, a homegrown receiver they couldn’t afford because they had paid Harvin.
But that didn’t stop the Seahawks from paying big again Tuesday — this time with a guy they had developed from scratch.
It turns out the Seahawks were fine paying Doug Baldwin the bloated market value for wide receivers — more proof that Paul Allen, John Schneider and Pete Carroll are more than fair when it comes to guys they have developed.
The recent deals worth $10 million a year for Jacksonville’s Allen Hurns and San Diego’s Keenan Allen had set the market for Baldwin, and the big question was whether the Seahawks were going to be interested in paying that or whether they might make Baldwin prove his excellent 2015 season was not a fluke.
Their four-year, $46 million extension for Baldwin clearly shows they have strong faith that he will continue to perform as he did in 2015, when he set career highs with 78 catches, 1,069 yards and an NFL-best 14 touchdowns.
The deal shows they value the 2011 undrafted free agent as one of their top players — he now ranks third on the team in average salary (behind Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman).
As with all of their extensions, each side will view the deal differently. Baldwin sees $11.5 million a year — the most the Seahawks have ever paid a receiver (Harvin got $11.1 million). And he gets to say his deal ranks among the top 10 receivers in the league.
Due to the ability to stretch the signing bonus over five years (2016-20), the Seahawks view it as a five-year deal worth $50 million (that includes Baldwin’s $4 million salary for 2016).
Either way, it’s the latest high-market deal Schneider has given to a receiver or tight end — proving that he is not put off by the bad value the team got out of deals for Harvin, Sidney Rice and Zach Miller.
Paying Baldwin as a No. 1 receiver indicates the Seahawks value the chemistry that has developed over the last three years between Wilson and Baldwin, who has long proven to be a clutch receiver.
Baldwin’s deal comes a few months after Jermaine Kearse signed a three-year, $13.5 million contract. With Tyler Lockett signed for three more years as well, Wilson will have his top three receivers through at least 2018 — and Seattle’s passing game should stay as potent as it was during the second half of 2015.