will be annoying Seattle's opponents for a little while longer. (Rod Mar for SI)
The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks locked up another one of their key players Thursday when receiver Doug Baldwin agreed to a two-year contract extension, as first reported by ESPN's Jim Trotter. Baldwin, a free agent signing in 2011 out of Stanford, became the first undrafted rookie in the post-merger era to lead his team in receptions and receiving yards. In 2013, he caught 50 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns, becoming an even more integral part of a Seattle passing game that was missing Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice for most of the season. Baldwin caught six passes for 106 yards in Seattle's NFC championship win over the San Francisco 49ers, and five passes for 66 yards and a touchdown in the team's Super Bowl XLVIII win over the Denver Broncos.
Baldwin was in the last year of his rookie deal; he was set to be a restricted free agent, which would come with a one-year, $2.187 million contract. But there had been rumblings for a while that Baldwin and the Seahawks were close to a long-term deal. Baldwin didn't hurt his case as the star of the team's recent minicamp practice -- he caught several deep balls from quarterback Russell Wilson, including a one-handed catch over the head of cornerback Richard Sherman, his college teammate and one of the more outspoken advocates of Baldwin's long-term future with Seattle. Including the RFA tender, Baldwin essentially has a three-year extension. It's a three-year, $13 million deal in which Baldwin will receive $8.5 million guaranteed and $9 million in the first two years.
MORE COVERAGE: Offseason Report Cards | NFL Power Rankings | 2015 NFL Mock Draft
Baldwin has always had a chip on his shoulder -- he did not appreciate being undrafted, and in the run to last year's Super Bowl win, he was very passionate in response to any slight -- real or imagined -- against his team. ESPN's analysts -- including Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter -- implied before the 49ers game that Seattle's receivers were "pedestrian," and Baldwin had a quick answer for them after the win.
“It irritates the hell out of me when you have guys that constantly want to talk about our receiving corps about how we’re average, we’re pedestrian,” he said.
“Well, we’re going to walk our asses to the Super Bowl as pedestrians.”
After that most recent minicamp performance, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was far more positive when discussing Baldwin.
“Doug has been a tremendous player," Carroll said. "When you go back and look at the last few years, and you look at the significant plays that have happened, he’s been a part in a lot of big stuff. He continues to always be at the front in making things happen, and he did it again today. He had a great day today. He’s just such a great worker and such a disciplined competitor that he brings it every chance he gets and it shows.”
Retaining Baldwin gives the Seahawks a more interesting -- and potentially explosive -- receiver corps than in recent years. The team drafted two receivers this year (Colorado speedster Paul Richardson and Alabama possession target Kevin Norwood), and if Harvin can stay healthy, Seattle might just break out from a conservative attack that has seen them throw the fewest passes in the NFL over the last two seasons.