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Doug Baldwin rewarded by Seahawks

Posted May 29, 2014

Doug Baldwin was told when the offseason began that the Seahawks would take care of him, in time. Baldwin’s time arrived Thursday when the clutch wide receiver was signed to a three-year contract.

The Seahawks had just shown Doug Baldwin how much they think of him by signing the fourth-year wide receiver to a three-year contract.

Then general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll told Baldwin just how much he means – and brings – to the team’s success. And they did from the stage in the auditorium at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Thursday afternoon during the news conference to announce the re-signing of the latest core player from the team that won the Super Bowl in February.

“You talk about passion, confidence, character, this is the epitome of that right here,” said Schneider, who was sitting to Baldwin’s left. “You’ve got to love the work ethic, the passion that he plays with, the confidence.

“Doug is really the type of guy that represents what our organization is all about, the culture that coach Carroll and I are trying to establish as a football culture – which is, that you play with a chip on your shoulder, you show up every single day, you’re reliable, you’re a smart guy, you’re incredibly passionate about what you do and that you act like a pro and you act like a champ every single day. And that’s this individual, Doug.”

DOING IT THE DOUG BALDWIN WAY

At Thursday afternoon’s news conference to announce the Seahawks signing Doug Baldwin to a three-year contract, general manager John Schneider pointed to three plays the wide receiver made last season as an example of just what Baldwin means to the team:

1. Baldwin’s sideline catch of a 13-yard pass on third-and-3 in a fourth-quarter drive to run out the clock in the season-opening victory over the Panthers in Carolina: “He made a phenomenal adjustment along the sideline. I was standing next to Erik Kennedy, our equipment manager, and was like, ‘Did he really catch that?’ Clutch, clutch play.” WATCH

2. Baldwin’s 24-yard reception on third-and-7 on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that helped the Seahawks tie their Week 4 game against the Texans in Houston, a game they won in overtime: “Things aren’t necessarily going our way. We’re backed up. Russell (Wilson) scrambles out and Doug works his way back to the quarterback. Makes an unbelievable catch on third down to keep that drive alive. Huge. Huge, huge play in that game.” WATCH

3. Baldwin’s 10-yard TD reception for the Seahawks’ final score in their 43-8 romp over the Broncos in the Super Bowl: “The run after the catch – the little duck thing he did to get in the end zone there – just kind of epitomizes his effort and his confidence in himself. He was going to score, no matter what.” WATCH

Added Carroll, who was sitting to Baldwin’s right: “We’re really proud of this guy. The way he attacked his opportunity when he came to the program just demonstrated that he’s just the epitome of a great competitor and has always battled at everything we’ve done to the point where we call him Angry Doug. But he’s just got this way about him that just stands out.

“I love that we get to make this gesture to him because we’re rewarding a guy for who he is, more so than what he does. A couple, few years back when we sat in this meeting room and said that we had the core of the guys we were looking for to build a championship team, we were thinking about you. You were right in the middle of that thought.”

Baldwin had heard much of this, before the offseason ever started. Schneider and Carroll had told him of the team’s plan to reward and retain its own players – from the re-signings of defensive lineman Michael Bennett and kicker Steven Hauschka in March, as well as defensive tackle Tony McDaniel and backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson; to the contract extensions given to the All-Pro duo of free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman in the past month; to Baldwin’s new deal on Thursday.

“That’s what they said. That’s what John and Pete said,” Baldwin explained after the news conference. “They said they were going to take care of their own guys first, and they were going to find a way to do that. And they’ve done that. They have been true to their word.

“I think that that message is spreading across the locker room in that if you continue to put in the hard work and the effort, and if you show that you’re willing to buy in to what we have here, that you’ll be rewarded and you’ll be shown that you’re appreciated. And obviously they were able to do that.”

Getting that done included giving Baldwin a tender when he became a restricted free agent in March, rather than signing him to a new deal then. Baldwin never signed the tender, but the club did it because it allowed them to take care of business – and do it in a predesigned order.

“John laid out the order of things,” Baldwin said. “He said that he wanted to get Earl Thomas done because Earl has been here the longest. Then Richard. And then myself. He’s been forthright with all of that, and honest. It was kind of surprising when he said it. I didn’t believe him, to be honest with you. But here it is, and it actually happened the way he said it would happen.”

It all plays into the trust factor between the players, the coaches and the front office. It also underlines the family atmosphere that has been created since Carroll and Schneider were hired as almost a package deal in 2010. Baldwin used the word “family” multiple times during the news conference.

“I think it just builds a trustworthy relationship between us all,” Baldwin said of the my-door-is-always-open interaction between the locker room and the corner of the building that houses Carroll and his staff and Schneider and his staff.

“You’re not afraid to go to those guys and tell them what issues you may have with anything.”

Just as Jackson was not afraid to go to Baldwin in 2011, when Baldwin caught 51 passes for 788 yards to become the first rookie free agent to lead his team in both categories since Bill Groman did it for the Houston Oilers in 1960. Just as Russell Wilson made Baldwin one of his go-to guys last season, when Baldwin had 50 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns during the regular season and then led the team with 13 catches for 202 yards in the postseason.

And, as Schneider pointed out, Baldwin had his two most-productive games against two of the most-restrictive defenses in the NFL – seven catches for 91 yards in the season-opening victory against the eventual NFC South champion Panthers in Carolina; and six catches for 106 yards in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.

“I’m really fired up to be able to demonstrate our appreciation for who you are and what you bring to us,” Carroll told Baldwin. “Really, from this point forward, we’ll rely on this kind of gut and mentality and competitiveness to keep pushing ahead with the challenges that we’ll face.

“The leadership that we get from Doug and the guys that he came in with really separate us. So we’re thrilled to do this. This is a great day for us.”

Not to mention a special day for Baldwin, who shared it with his girlfriend, Jennilyn; Sherman, also his teammate at Stanford; and other players and coaches.

As Schneider put it to open the news conference, just after Baldwin had popped the top on a bottle of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider, “Thanks everybody for coming out to Doug Baldwin Day.”

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