DK Metcalf contract extension: When, how much, and is a trade a real option?
Seaside Bonus: What wide receivers are ACTUALLY being paid and why it makes sense for Seahawks to finish the deal soon
Seaside Joe runs a free Seahawks newsletter every day, but sometimes the news cycle demands a bonus post and this
is was one of those. Regular Joes get access to every bonus post for only $5 a month and I expect a busy season ahead.
After 24 hours of this post being paywalled, I am removing the paywall this one time because I think there’s a lot of valuable information in it and I believe that there are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about how contracts and negotiations actually work.
I also want to show you who haven’t signed up for the premium posts yet that I’m not just dinking and doinking my way through articles behind the paywall: There’s as much going on for the paid articles as there is for the freebies. I’ve been covering the Seahawks day in and day out for 12 years and I am confident that you’ll enjoy what’s going on at Seaside Joe this year. Even if you stick around as a free subscriber! Happy to have you.
DK Metcalf reported to training camp on Tuesday—
But nobody knows if he will actually participate in practice with teammates on Wednesday—
I have no inside information, no sources, and I’ve never been invited on The Pat McAfee Show. However, I’m so confident that the Seahawks will sign DK Metcalf to a contract extension soon that I’m going to do one last run on when it will happen, how much it will be for, and why Seattle has never really considered a trade (and what Metcalf could be traded for).
The Seahawks almost always do these deals after training camp begins. Jamal Adams signed his extension last August 17th. Bobby Wagner was extended on July 26, 2019. Tyler Lockett’s previous extension to the one he signed last April (a rare exception) was signed on August 29, 2018. Kam Chancellor was extended the previous August 1st.
There would be no reason for a Seahawks fan to ever have to think about Metcalf’s financial situation until it cost him playing time, and that is more than six weeks away. I know that we are legally allowed to quibble about the importance of a few practices or “getting chemistry with the bridge quarterback,” but would we even be having this conversation if we didn’t think Metcalf was capable of having a good career regardless of his participation this week?
Minus that one time he didn’t report (potentially a suggestion by his agent), Metcalf and the Seattle front office never got into any offseason disagreements that we know of, unlike A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, and Hollywood Brown. Samuel is also reporting to camp, but his storyline is that he will not play for the 49ers without a new contract because understandably he feels at-risk in Kyle Shanahan’s current offensive setup.
DK Metcalf’s offseason was like… “Hey, I like candy and I’m in a movie!”
On Monday, Ian Rapoport reported that the Seahawks rebuffed all trade offers and “want to get him paid.” (You can skip to 1:40)
The ONLY news in the DK Metcalf contract situation is that “The Seattle Seahawks can’t wait to sign DK Metcalf.” What else am I supposed to believe then other than that the two sides will come to an agreement and potentially do so by Wednesday?
Given the unfortunate news on Monday that Chris Carson is retiring from the NFL, the Seahawks are set to save $4.5 million this year (Carson will get $2 million) and that difference on the roster was not something Pete Carroll could confirm until this week. That difference is monumental when you get down to this part of the year and should have an impact on the contract that Metcalf signs, which would be different if Carson had been healthy enough to play.
The Seahawks were looking approximately $16.3 million in cap space for 2022, but the change for Carson changes that to $20.8 million. That moves them up from having the sixth-most space to leapfrogging the Bears for fifth place.
Seattle may want to give Metcalf a little more now to help offset a time down the line when they may not have as much space to work with, however I want to caution fans against hoping for something “front-loaded” with some mystical discount savings in the future. Based on what we’ve seen play out with player-team disputes in recent years, nobody is taking any discounts.
Say a player signs a three-year, $75 million contract and as a fan you dream up a scenario that pays him $30 million in the first year, $30 million in the second year, and $15 million in the third. Maybe then the team could have more money to sign free agents when the Seahawks are more equipped to compete, right?
It’s a paradox.
The team, the player, and the fans all want the player to be great at all times. If he plays like a $30 million per season player in those two years, then he would be taking a pay cut at a time when he feels he deserves a raise.
Tyreek Hill had already signed a three-year, $54 million extension that had more seasons left on it, but he was never going to play for the Chiefs again unless he got a new contract. That’s why Hill is on the Dolphins now. His average annual salary, like some other top receivers this offseason, jumped from $18 million to $30 million in the course of only three years.
If the Seahawks signed Metcalf to a “front-loaded” deal, then in their best case scenario, he lives up to the contract for two years and then holds out for a new deal that pays him $40 million per year.
That’s just the way it works now.
So that’s why the final year of Hill’s deal with Miami carries a $50 million cap hit: It raises the overall value of the contract while not standing a chance of ever happening. Hill will not be paid a $43.9 million base salary in 2026. It just won’t happen. But the Dolphins needed to prorate his signing bonus over five years anyway (the maximum allowed) and so why not give him a fake $44 million salary so that his contract has more aesthetic appeal while also forcing their rivals to pay a little more for their own disgruntled receiver?
The REAL Tyreek Hill contract (advertised as four years and $120 million) is a three-year deal worth around $76 million and technically the Dolphins could cut him by 2024 if the move was a disaster.
A.J. Brown was traded to the Eagles and signed a four-year, $100 million contract, but $30 million of that comes from his 2026 base salary. In other words, it’s closer to a three-year, $70 million deal. Terry McLaurin just skipped the bullshit language and signed a three-year, $69.6 million contract.
While others are telling you that “great receivers cost $30 million per year now!!!”, they either did not know the truth and failed to do the research or ignored the truth because it doesn’t sound as good. The top wideouts are signing three-year contracts worth between $23 million to $26 million per season.
There is a difference.
Even Davante Adams, who signed a five-year, $140 million contract with the Raiders, signed a three-year deal. Adams has the highest total value at the position in the league and the second-highest AAV at $28 million, but he has non-guaranteed $35 and $36 million salaries in 2025 and 2026. Therefore, Adams signed a three-year, $69 million deal that will probably cross over $70 million with incentives.
It’s not that people are stupid. But people are taking information at face value and not checking anyone’s work. DK Metcalf only has one of two options, really:
Do what McLaurin did and sign a three-year contract with as much money as you can get. Given that Metcalf’s strongest argument would only make him slightly better than McLaurin and Brown, he might land at $71.5 or $72 million in the best case scenario.
Do what Brown, Adams, and Hill did and tack on a fourth year just in case by some miracle you manage to get into a situation where maybe your best bet is playing on that fourth season. Every so often, like A.J. Green’s tail years with the Bengals, a player may be overpaid by his team just because he’s already there and fans like him. However, the risk is that if Metcalf outplays his contract through three years then he might have to go through an ugly divorce or holdout.
I think fans really do misunderstand contract situations because there’s not that much negotiations going on as far as how much a player will get paid. There’s a very clear answer to how every position gets paid, that’s why Jimmy Graham tried to get classified as a WIDE RECEIVER with the Saints, not why he attempted to argue to be an inordinately-paid TIGHT END. Football teams take positions very seriously.
Many of us would rather have George Kittle on a team than the 10th-best wide receiver, but Kittle makes $15 million per year, if not a little bit less than that because he too has a phantom fifth-year on his deal.
Instead, players and teams are negotiating the language of a deal, the structure, and ground rules when you’re living under my roof.
Essentially the Seahawks are saying, “Hey, here’s the deal that any team in the NFL would give you, you’re not going to get more money anywhere else,” and then Metcalf has to decide if he wants to stay in Seattle or risk everything and try to conjure up an even bigger contract (because of time passing, mostly) in 2023. Which also won’t happen because the Seahawks would absolutely use the franchise tag on him.
That’s another reason why it is logical that Seattle and Metcalf would want to get this deal done now. It guarantees him a life-changing amount of money and it guarantees the Seahawks their only great draft pick over a four-year period.
The two sides sound like they want to come to an agreement, so it behooves everyone to expedite that process because if you’re sure you’re going to get it done by September, why not get it done before August?
If I was forced to make a guess—
I would actually say that the Seahawks should sign DK Metcalf this week. I like the idea of it happening on Wednesday. I believe the contract parameters should either be three years and $71.5 million with incentives or four years and $101 million.
As to the matter of a trade, as I’ve seen it suggested as recently as today, the time for that to happen in 2022 has definitely passed. The Seahawks would be taking a massive risk by trading Metcalf to a team without knowing how good/bad the trade partner would be and what 2023 pick they would get in return, while simultaneously tanking the season and alienating a fanbase already dealing with Post-Partum-Russell-Bobby-Carson syndrome.
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If you’re asking about trading Metcalf in 2023, assuming that he doesn’t sit out, or even if he does, then Seattle would be in a position to acquire a good draft pick. That’s true.
But even Hill’s trade only included 29th overall as the best pick, Adams’ trade netted the best pick at 22nd overall, Brown’s trade returned pick 18, and Hollywood’s trade was a swap of a third rounder for pick 23. Even though Metcalf is more valuable than most players picked in the top-10, it seems unlikely that any franchise would trade a top-10 pick for DK Metcalf.
So are the Seahawks really going to entertain trading a player of Metcalf’s age, talent, value to the organization because they’re crossing their fingers that pick 19 is going to return someone nearly as good as DK Metcalf? First round picks are also not FREE, so Seattle’s net savings by not paying Metcalf would be even less valuable and that’s for a player who you can’t guarantee will be as good as Metcalf.
The trade also kind of defies logic and makes it more understandable why the Seahawks didn’t entertain any offers this year. Would the Jets possibly have traded pick 10 for Metcalf, given that they were potentially going to trade it for Hill? I mean, I don’t know… but Metcalf is not the player you trade. He’s the player you pay.
We know exactly what it will be and I think it will happen very soon.
I've been receiving your newsletters for quite a while now, and decided to pay the tab today. Looking forward to your continued sound accountable non-clickbaity perspectives. Oh, and McCAW McCAW!!
Pete loves having game-changing players on offense. A young one? Even better. During a year with cap space and a couple of QBs who need all the support they can get? No brainer. Sign the man and set a positive tone for the whole team going into training camp.