Since the start of the 2018 season, few players at any position in the NFL have provided their respective teams more reliability and consistency than speedy receiver Tyler Lockett has for the Seahawks.
During a three-year span, Lockett has narrowly missed out on averaging 80 receptions per season, including grabbing a career-high and franchise-record 100 receptions in 2020. He also has averaged nearly 10 touchdown receptions per season while reeling in north of 76 percent of his targets from Russell Wilson, as the quarterback/wideout partnership remains among the best in the league.
Based on such on-field production coupled with his excellent work ethic and leadership skills, former NFL head coach Jim Mora Jr. believes Lockett was more than deserving of his new four-year, $69.2 million contract and the extension should be viewed as a home run for both the franchise and the player.
"Number one, I think he earned it and I think it was a great move for the Seahawks because they saved a lot of cap space and I think that was important," Mora said, referencing the nearly $7 million in cap space created for 2021 by extending Lockett. "They locked him up for a few more years - he's [going to be] 29 years old in September."
As far as where Mora views Lockett in the NFL's receiver hierarchy, while he's not sure he's necessarily one of the league's elite comparing his production to other top-tier receivers such as DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones who put up more gaudy numbers, he belongs in the discussion as one of the most irreplaceable to his own team.
"When you talk about best, he's not one of the best receivers in the game, but he's one of the most valuable to that franchise. That's so important," Mora elaborated. "He's been incredibly consistent, except for the injury a few years ago, he's stayed healthy, he's a great target for Russ, he's gonna catch the ball and he's gonna get open late. He's got dependable hands and he's good running after the catch."
Putting Lockett's sensational play into perspective, while he has never finished in the top five in receiving yardage in any of his six prior NFL seasons, per Pro Football Reference, the former Kansas State standout is one of only 12 players with at least 200 receptions, 3,000 receiving yards, and 20 receiving touchdowns since 2018. Among that group, he's ranked first in catch rate and fifth in touchdowns, suggesting he deserves consideration as one of the game's premier receivers.
Aside from his football skills, Mora views Lockett as well worth his new $17.3 million per year price tag because of his intangibles, including his character and renowned work ethic. He cited the receiver's reputation for being one of the first players at the facility and one of the last to leave, providing leadership through example.
Mora also lauded his toughness and dependability, as he has played in 95 out of 98 possible regular season and playoff games. He missed all three of those games after suffering a broken leg in Week 15 against the Cardinals during the 2016 season, but otherwise, he has battled through several other injuries to play in every single game.
Though these traits may not matter quite as much as actual football talent when it comes to winning games in the NFL, Mora believes general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have achieved sustained long-term success by placing great emphasis on such intangibles. For that reason, he's not surprised at all the Seahawks opted to secure an impact player like Lockett who checks off all of those boxes.
"John and Pete recognize that, yes, talent is one thing," Mora remarked. "You can't win in the NFL without talent, but the intangibles that young men bring to the team, those are maybe not equally important, but extremely important as well. Tyler is one of those guys that brings all of those things."
Under the terms of his new deal, Lockett is tied to the Seahawks through the 2025 season, though it remains to be seen if he will play out the entirety of the contract. He will have cap hits exceeding $20 million in 2024 and 2025, when he will be well into his 30s and likely in decline, which could make for some tough decisions for the front office.
But with a third contract in tow, regardless of what happens down the road, Mora would like to see Lockett do what few NFL players are able to accomplish and play his entire career with the same team. A beloved star both on and off the field, he's the perfect representative for everything Carroll, Schneider, and the Seahawks stand for as an organization and it'd be tough to visualize him sporting any other uniform.
"I think it's a great move for the Seahawks. I'm happy for Tyler. I hope he can end his career there, it looks like he may be able to do that. To me, it's a win-win."