RENTON, WA - When players change teams, particularly skill position players who begin working with a new quarterback, the adjustment period can prove to be a lengthy one.
In the case of tight end Gerald Everett, however, his transition to the Seahawks has been a seamless one and he's hit the ground running through the team's first five training camp practices. Such a development shouldn't necessarily be a surprise given his prior relationship with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, who coached him during each of his first four seasons with the Rams.
But what has been somewhat surprising has been how rapidly he has established a strong rapport with quarterback Russell Wilson, who has targeted him frequently during the first week of camp and already seems to have developed plenty of trust in his newest receiving weapon.
“We all are trying to develop some kind of comradery, and some kind of chemistry, but Russ and I have definitely been clicking since back in April and June, going out to San Diego and running routes," Everett said following Monday's practice. "Just leading into training camp, it just feels good having a guy that can be anything. A dual threat quarterback.”
Over the past three open practices, Everett has reeled in 11 receptions during Seattle's 11-on-11 team sessions, including adjusting to bring in a touchdown pass with linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven glued all over him last Thursday, drawing loud cheers from the crowd. On several other plays, he flashed his elite athletic traits and after the catch capabilities, turning upfield to pick up big chunks of yardage.
Having played against Wilson twice a year for the past four years, Everett recalled how demoralizing it was watching the star signal caller work his magic, particularly when he found ways to escape pressure and create big plays. But now that he's switched sides and had a chance to see in person how he prepares and works at his craft, he couldn't be happier to be on the receiving end of his passes.
“Just his work ethic. Playing with the Rams for the past four years, I mean you see the plays in the late fourth quarters. Him and Tyler [Lockett]; him and DK [Metcalf] hooking up, and just putting them back on top. It’s frustrating from the other side, but being here and seeing how he really works, up close and in person, it’s a sight to see.”
Becoming a free agent for the first time, Everett was linked to the Seahawks long before the start of the league year after the team hired Waldron to replace Brian Schottenheimer, who stepped down days after a 30-20 wild card loss to the Rams. When the team signed him to a one-year deal on March 21, it wasn't necessarily viewed as a game-changing move, but it may turn out to be one of the most important ones made by general manager John Schneider.
After a red-hot start offensively through the first eight weeks, Wilson and the Seahawks cooled off tremendously in the second half of the 2020 season, scoring 23 or fewer points in five of their final eight regular season games. While other factors contributed to the prolonged slump, the inability to find a consistent third target behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett became a major problem, making life easier for opponents to take away the team's two Pro Bowl receivers.
Seattle remains hopeful second-round pick D'Wayne Eskridge will help address that issue by adding another electric playmaker to the receiving corps, but the rookie has yet to participate in training camp due to a toe injury. As a result, following years of being in starter Tyler Higbee's shadow in Los Angeles, Everett now has a prime opportunity to emerge as the team's No. 3 target behind Metcalf and Lockett heading into a new season.
During the midst of the team's offseason program in June, after only seeing him on the field for a handful of OTAs and minicamp practices, Carroll tabbed Everett as a breakout player in the Seahawks offense. So far, he's living up to the billing and has already established himself as a leader for his new team.
“This is a guy with an excellent range of ability, and probably the thing we like best is how competitive he is," Carroll stated. "He’s really tough. Runs with the ball as hard as anybody we’ve had here in the receiver position. He’ll make yards after the catch. He’ll make big plays. He’s going to break some plays, a very natural catcher, really comfortable in all situations."
Though they've only been teammates for a few months, Metcalf was able to build chemistry of his own with Everett when the two worked out with Wilson in San Diego last month. After watching him consistently make big plays against the Seahawks, he has been impressed by what he's seen thus far and believes the fifth-year tight end adds another dimension to the passing game that hasn't been present since he joined the team two years ago.
“He gives another element to our offense that we didn’t have in the past," Metcalf said. "He’s like a big body receiver out there playing tight end. He’s got amazing feet, hands. Glad he’s on our team now.”
Much to the delight of Everett, the Seahawks will be transitioning into their first padded practice on Tuesday. Along with providing an opportunity for him to break tackles and further display his physicality and toughness in an environment more closely resembling an actual game, Carroll believes the former South Alabama standout will also show he's a far better blocker than advertised despite being less than 250 pounds.
"The thing that surprises you about Gerald when you look at his film is how consistently he blocked and stayed after it, and was aggressive in his blocking, and tough in his blocking scheme," Carroll added. "He’s been really impressive, I mean he’s right in the middle of everything right now, so we’re really excited about him.”
While the trio will have to prove it on the field, Everett joining forces with fourth-year veteran Will Dissly and rising second-year talent Colby Parkinson should give the Seahawks one of the best tight end groups they've ever had. Thus far in camp, each player has been factor in the passing game and with Waldron expected to incorporate plenty of 12 personnel sets with multiple tight ends on the field, all of them should receive extensive snaps.
If the group reaches their potential, coupled with Metcalf and Lockett on the outside and a bevy of talented running backs out of the backfield, Everett believes the talent is in place for a Super Bowl run. Though Waldron's presence also was a deciding factor, it's the main reason he bolted from one NFC West rival to another and after narrowly missing out on his goal in 2018, pursuing a championship is all that matters.
“We’re trying to chase that Lombardi. If anybody tells you anything different, they’re wrong. We’re coming to work, and trying to compete to our best capabilities, and bring our hard hats to work everyday and see what comes out of it.”