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Seattle Seahawks: Doug Baldwin departure was prepared for – NFL Spin Zone

The Seattle Seahawks have officially released wide receiver Doug Baldwin, but the team has prepared for the former Pro Bowler’s departure.

It’s never fun to see a star player’s career end because of injuries. But, in a sport like football, it’s a situation we have to deal with from time to time. After an injury-riddled 2018 campaign, it appears we have now reached that point with Doug Baldwin. On May 9, the Seattle Seahawks have cut Baldwin, inaugurating the beginning of a new era in Seattle. A few days later, Baldwin posted a series of tweets that indicate he plans to retire from the NFL.

Since Baldwin entered the league in 2011 as an undrafted free agent, the only players who were more crucial to the Seahawks offense were Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson. In his eight-year career, Baldwin recorded 493 receptions, 6,563 receiving yards, and 49 receiving touchdowns.

He has the third most receptions and receiving yards and the second most receiving touchdowns in franchise history, only trailing Brian Blades and Steve Largent. It won’t be easy to replace Baldwin’s abilities, drive, and leadership, but the Seahawks have taken steps to bring in young players who can fill his production.

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Firstly, the team will rely more heavily on Tyler Lockett, who is heading into his fifth NFL season. We got a glimpse of what a Lockett-led receiving attack would look like in 2018 when Baldwin was clearly not one hundred percent. Lockett finished the season with 57 receptions, 965 receiving yards, and ten receiving touchdowns.

All of those marks blew his previous career highs out of the water and silenced most of the people saying he couldn’t handle a heavier workload. I was one of the doubters, but it appears that Seattle’s run-oriented offense can function with Lockett as the primary pass catcher. However, Seattle will also benefit from having receivers who are more than speedy deep threats on the field. Besides Lockett, the team picked up a trio of receivers in the draft.

D.K. Metcalf, a potential steal and freakish athlete, was taken in the second round. The Ole Miss product has incredible size, build, and strength, but he doesn’t seem to have the versatility to handle sudden cuts. This means he’ll likely be employed as a middle level and deep jump ball threat. At the very least, he’ll be Seattle’s best red zone threat since Jimmy Graham.

The Seahawks also took West Virginia’s Gary Jennings in the fourth round. This was a great value selection as Jennings has a chance to become a starter for Seattle. As a junior, Jennings averaged 11.3 yards per reception and put up over 1,000 yards on 97 receptions. Baldwin’s career average for yards per reception is 13.3, meaning Jennings might possess the traits necessary to play Baldwin’s role in the slot.

Seattle traded back into the seventh round to draft John Ursua from Hawaii. At 5-10, Ursua is the same height as Baldwin, but he doesn’t have the two-time Pro Bowlers strength yet. Ursua recorded 89 receptions, 1,343 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns in 2018. Clearly, Ursua will have to battle for a spot on the roster, but he’s a high-production college player who was worth taking in the final round of the draft.

On top of the new draft picks, the Seahawks also still have 2017 seventh-round pick David Moore, who put up 445 receiving yards in 2018, in addition to 2017 third-round pick Amara Darboh, 2018 free agent signee Jaron Brown, Malik Turner, Keenan Reynolds and Caleb Scott on the roster.

The team has also added undrafted free agents Jazz Ferguson and Terry Wright. Ferguson caught 66 passes for 1,117 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2018 and Wright caught 28 passes for 468 yards and five touchdowns.

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Needless to say, Seattle won’t be keeping all of these players around for the 2019 season and there are plenty of potential combinations the team could run with the receivers at their disposal. It may not be realistic to expect one player to fill the void left for Baldwin in 2019, but Seattle seems set to replace him by committee if no one emerges as an immediate successor.

While losing Baldwin is certainly a sad concept for the 12s to accept, it’s going to be an exciting offseason and all eyes will be on the team’s young acquisitions.