RENTON, Wash. — A handful of young fans were so excited to see DK Metcalf during the first Seahawks training camp practice of the summer that they ignored the 11-on-11 action unfolding in front of them and staged a plan to end the to attract the attention of the star recipient.
“Come on guys,” the ringleader among the young fans said to his buddies. “Three two one.” Then everyone shouted in unison, “DK Metcalf!”
Metcalf, wearing a pair of Nike Air Monarchs, a training jersey, sweatshirts and a green Seahawks cap, didn’t move. The children tried again and yelled at the same time, “DK Metcalf, come here!”
Metcalf didn’t move again.
Though nearly all the familiar faces on Seattle’s roster were in attendance and participating in practice Wednesday at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, most eyes were fixed on Metcalf, the lone healthy Seahawk abstaining from work on the field. The 24-year-old wideout and his decision to be a spectator will lead our observations from day one of training camp.
1. Coach Pete Carroll made it clear that Metcalf’s viewing status is not due to the foot injury he endured last season.
“He passed his exam,” Carroll said after practice. “He’s fine.”
Metcalf wants a contract extension. The current receiver landscape suggests a player of his caliber should be making between $23.5 million and $26.7 million a year in new money (Metcalf has a year left on its rookie deal). Metcalf waived the mandatory mini-camp in June due to his contract situation. He is currently employing a strategy unofficially referred to as “hold-in,” a strategy that has become popular with players looking for a new deal. It’s a happy medium between the two sides: Players won’t be fined $40,000 a day for not reporting to work, but they won’t risk injury if they attend practice. The team can continue to negotiate in good faith as the player shows their willingness to be present and part of the team. Bobby Wagner (2019), Jamal Adams (2021), Quandre Diggs (2021), and Duane Brown (2021) have used the same tactic in the past. San Francisco wide receiver Deebo Samuel is also holding on at the moment. He and Metcalf share an agent.
The Seattle front office usually fixes these situations with a new contract just before camp begins, a few days into camp’s start, or, in the case of Diggs and Brown, they don’t agree to a new deal at all and let the player hit free agency. Carroll in June was optimistic that a Metcalf extension would come before camp began. “We were hoping for that,” he said on Wednesday. “We shot at it, but now we’re right there. There’s a lot of work going on right now.”
How soon is the contract extension likely to be completed?
“I don’t have any updates for you,” Carroll said, offering his usual company line.
2. The following players are on the physically unable list: cornerback Tre Brown (knee), offensive tackle Liam Ryan (foot), linebacker Jon Rhattigan (knee), and rookie edge defender Tyreke Smith (hip).
Ryan, who didn’t move in from Washington state, will “take a while” to get back, Carroll said. Rattigan, who tore his cruciate ligament at the end of last season, is also starting a long road to recovery. Smith “went well” on Wednesday and starts camp on PUP “so we can train him with the trainers,” Carroll said. Smith’s stay at PUP can last only a few days.
Referring to Brown, who was an outside corner starter until his season-ending knee injury, Carroll said, “He’s close but not ready today. I don’t know what to tell you, but it won’t be a long road. He runs and he works hard. He’s really encouraged that he can make it back soon. We think that should happen.”
Wide receiver Dee Eskridge was held up with hamstring strains at the end of practice.
3. Seattle waived linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven (knee) Tuesday with a failed physical designation. He deleted waivers Wednesday and returned to Seattle’s injured reserve list. Barring a layoff and an injury settlement, his season is over. Burr-Kirven, who suffered a cruciate ligament tear in the 2021 preseason, had nerve surgery that will take a while to recover from, Carroll said.
4. Geno Smith still has a lead over the quarterback competition. At every practice I witnessed, Smith ran with the first-team offense. Drew Lock ran almost exclusively with the second-team unit. That was the case in the spring and it’s no surprise Smith is still in the lead early in camp. Smith is older, more experienced and more familiar with the system.
“Geno is in the lead. He’s ahead and he’s not looking back,” Carroll said. “He wants it. Drew won’t take a backseat. Something will happen.”
Smith and Lock are slightly different players, but Seattle’s goal is to maximize their ability to shoot deep, shoot from outside the pocket, and cover the entire field in the passing game. Seattle feels like they have three guys with incredibly strong arms in Smith, Lock and Jacob Eason. They plan to use this to their advantage once the running game is established.
It will be interesting to watch these practices as the pass rush comes at them in a way they couldn’t with organized team activities in the spring. There were a couple of games Wednesday where defensive tackles Poona Ford and Matt Gothel would have sacked Lock in a live setting. The quarterbacks have to adjust to that. Lock had a nice play, moving out of trouble and using his legs to pick up a first down. Smith eluded trouble in the second game at 11-on-11 and blasted a nice deep shot down the sideline to Tyler Lockett against cornerback Sidney Jones for a big win. Adams would argue that Smith would have been fired before the throw (and he might have a point), but regardless, the throw and catch were probably the best connection of the day.
5. The defensive play of the day belonged to Jones, who intercepted Smith on a dropped pass from receiver Marquise Goodwin. The ball was slightly behind Goodwin on the pattern below and as he reached back to catch it Goodwin slammed it into the air and into the hands of Jones, who may score on the return in a live setting would have. Jones and Artie Burns were Wednesday’s cornerbacks. Rookies Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen were their backups.
6. When asked about Seattle’s first quarterback contest in 10 years, Carroll referred to his days at USC and the number of times talented quarterbacks — from Carson Palmer to Matt Leinart to John David Booty to Mark Sanchez — have graduated from the program.
“You went to the next guy,” Carroll said. “You always miss it when the guys leave, but you can see it (coming), so you start planning it, you work and you can succeed.”
In other words, while Russell Wilson has been outstanding in 10 years at the top, Carroll doesn’t sweat the novelty of having either Smith or Lock in the middle. Carroll accepts the challenge and the idea of potentially revitalizing a quarterback’s career. Carroll genuinely believes that the Seahawks’ system, surrounding talent and culture can create an environment in which quarterbacks can thrive.
“I’m taking it easy, but I’m determined to make it work,” Carroll said. “The players have to develop a lot and give them the background they need and the substance they need to be able to play the way they can.”
7. Just don’t expect Carroll to reveal his timeline for naming a starter.
“You will Not nail me to that,” Carroll said with a smile.
8th. Seattle waived Chris Carson with a failed physical designation on Tuesday. Carson, 27, is set to retire after suffering a neck injury.
“I love the way Chris Carson played,” said Carroll. “I loved his style, his aggressiveness, his creativity, his all-round athleticism. I loved him on our team. It breaks my heart not to have him anymore.”
Seattle’s new running back Rashaad Penny said he was “heartbroken” when he heard the news of Carson’s medical withdrawal.
“He deserves all his flowers after everything he’s done,” Penny said Wednesday. “He set the standard for who is a running back for the Seahawks. We all just follow what he did. When I came in and had him around, I became a better player.”
Over four years and a series of rehab sessions together, Carson and Penny became best friends and formed a brotherly bond.
“That’s my type,” said Penny. “Anything I ever needed in terms of football or life in general, I always went to him. He gave extremely positive feedback and personally I know I miss him.”
9. Longtime linebacker KJ Wright signed a one-day contract to retire with the Seahawks. He will officially announce his retirement on Thursday morning. As a member of the 2011 draft class that joined the Seahawks before their dominance propelled them into the national spotlight, Wright will always hold a special place in Carroll’s heart. The coach said he was emotional earlier in the day when Wright and his family came to the facility to sign the contract. The thought of all the games, all the awards and all the years spent together hardly left a dry eye in the house.
“He’s an amazing kid,” said Carroll. “Was a notable leader and performer and whatnot. In addition, he is a remarkable person and I hope that we can always keep him close to the program.
10 Speaking of former players staying close, ex-Seahawks defenseman Neiko Thorpe helped out at Wednesday’s practice. And gave some autographs after the session.
One of the guests of honor at the Seahawks camp today is former DB Neiko Thorpe pic.twitter.com/mdSEBaKxN2
— Dugar, Michael Shawn (@MikeDugar) July 27, 2022
(Photo above: Joe Nicholson / USA Today)