Wanting to Stay With Seahawks, Emotional DK Metcalf Gets Wish With Record-Setting Deal – Sports Illustrated

RENTON, WA – Amid a turbulent offseason headlined by quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner departing, DK Metcalf's future with the Seahawks remained in question for the past several months. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, speculation ensued about whether or not the franchise would look to trade him as part of an all-out rebuilding effort.
But while rumors reached peak hysteria before April's draft and other teams reportedly inquired about Metcalf's availability, the Seahawks never entertained the possibility of moving him. After months of hammering out negotiations on a new contract, the two sides struck a deal, making him one of the 10 highest-paid receivers in football with a three-year, $72 million contract and a record $30 million signing bonus.
Speaking with reporters alongside coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider on Friday, Metcalf joked about playing games with Seattle's front office during a difficult negotiations process. But there was never any question about where he planned to play in 2022 and beyond.
“I was going to be here, as much as I bluffed to John [Schneider],” Metcalf smiled. “I wasn’t leaving, just to let you all know. I wanted to be here. I wanted to play here and I’m glad that we got something done."
With the magnitude of his new contract hitting home as the ink still dried, Metcalf had to keep his emotions in check on several occasions in Friday's press conference.
Thankful to be able to still play the game he loves after a neck injury nearly ended his football career, Metcalf spoke candidly about his desires to use his newfound wealth to help others back in his home state. Specifically, along with providing for his own family, he plans to open restaurants in Oxford to provide better quality food and help tackle Mississippi's youth obesity crisis.
"It really hasn't hit me until now," Metcalf said. "That I'll have the opportunity just to help so many people back home and help my family. And just thinking about when I broke my neck and I was told I wasn't going to be able to play football again. And now just this moment happening. It's just all a blessing."
Metcalf, a native of Oxford, Mississippi, has taken a long, difficult road to earn this multi-year extension in an NFL career that nearly didn't happen.
Playing against Arkansas in 2018, Metcalf suffered a cervical neck fracture while making a block on a kick return. Initially, doctors told him the injury would prevent him from playing another down on the gridiron. But a second opinion offered a surgical option that would allow him to return to the field and resume his career.
The following April, nearly two months after a scintillating performance at the scouting combine with which he ran a blazing 4.33 40-yard dash at 230 pounds, Metcalf somehow fell out of the first round. As his freefall mystifyingly continued, the Seahawks capitalized on the opportunity and traded up to snag him with the 64th overall pick.
"I know it was hard on him," Coach Pete Carroll said of Metcalf waiting for his phone to ring on draft weekend. "The process was hard. People screwed this thing up and we were just fortunate that we could take advantage of it. John did a great job to position us to take advantage of it.
Since then, Metcalf has been one of the league's most productive receivers, ranking 10th in receptions and fifth in receiving touchdowns in three seasons. He shattered legendary wideout Steve Largent's single season record with 1,303 receiving yards in a breakout 2020 campaign that culminated with an All-Pro selection and followed up with 12 touchdowns last season despite playing through a foot injury.
Historically, Metcalf has enjoyed one of the fastest starts for a receiver in NFL history. Joining exclusive company alongside Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Randy Moss, he became one of only five receivers to produce 200 or more receptions, 3,100 or more receiving yards, and 29 or more touchdowns in his first three seasons.
Considering his immense production, Metcalf expected to become one of the highest-paid at his position. But as Schneider noted, a negotiation process that started in earnest at the combine became a tedious one with several other big name receivers landing massive contracts this spring. With the bar being continually raised, trying to hammer out a deal proved to be a challenge.
"It’s just a part of the planning process," Schneider commented. "You’re always kind of adjusting as you go. You go back to the time when we were in Indianapolis, there were a number of things that happened that we had to keep adjusting as we moved forward. To try to reward this young man deservedly so as well as trying to continue to put together a championship caliber football team.”
Along the way, Metcalf made some tough business-related decisions, including opting to stay in southern California rather than report for mandatory minicamp in June. While he reported on time for training camp on Tuesday, he didn't practice the first two days while contract details were being finalized behind the scenes, executing a "hold in" similar to the one orchestrated by Jamal Adams and Duane Brown a year ago.
Eagerly awaiting the completion of his new deal, Metcalf admitted that he hated being stuck on the sidelines and has been champing at the bit to get back on the field with his teammates. Hearing updates from teammates such as Tyler Lockett and Freddie Swain only made it more difficult.
On the other side of negotiations, Carroll and Schneider never had any doubts Metcalf would remain in Seattle for years to come, viewing him as a "core player" for the present and future of the franchise. Business eventually worked out and a young, ascending superstar who wanted to be with the organization long-term received the mega-contract he deserved.
"This is such an exciting day for the 12s. I mean to know that DK is going to be here and be a part of this thing, we feel it throughout the organization and in the locker room," Carroll remarked. "And when we made an announcement today, the guys were cheering for him. Everybody cares and it makes a big difference. The momentum you feel from a leader like this coming back to your club and knowing that he is excited about it and thrilled to be here. It just adds to all the energy of the groups. It really is important.”
Now that he's a $72 million man, Metcalf can shift his focus back to dominating on the field, developing a rapport with quarterbacks Drew Lock and Geno Smith, and living up to his words and helping those in his community back home. With negotiations behind him and the sting from draft weekend three years ago still ever present, he promised the best is yet to come as he pushes to achieve his ultimate goal of making it into the Hall of Fame.
"I just thank every everybody because it took a village just for me to get here today and just a big thank you to everybody who helped me get to this point in my life. And I'm still not done and that chip hasn't gone anywhere."

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