Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin followed up the best season of his career with a big moment this offseason, getting engaged last month. Baldwin was on Sports Radio 950 KJR Wednesday, and talked about his big season, his engagement, his contract status and more. Here are five things we learned from Baldwin's appearance with Mitch Levy and former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren.
1. Last season's surge in production was the result of the whole offense executing better.
When asked about his play in the second half of last season—Baldwin had 12 touchdowns in his final eight games, including 10 over a four-game stretch from Week 12 to Week 15—Baldwin repeatedly insisted that nothing had changed in his game. Holmgren playfully suggested in the interview that he wasn't buying that, which prompted this explanation from Baldwin:
"I'll say that our play on the field as players stepped up," he said. "I wouldn't say our play-calling changed much, it was just more that we as a team, as players, realized we had to step up and produce. We started executing a lot better, from the quarterback to the offensive line to the receivers to the running backs, we were all executing at a high level. Personally for me, I got more opportunities to catch the ball, and as we've always talked about, as a receiver here you've got to make the most of your opportunities. That's what we tried to do, and if you look across the board, we all as receivers had the best years of our careers, and that's because we were able to make the most of our opportunities."
2. Baldwin is happy anywhere he is asked to line up.
Throughout his career, Baldwin has been known as a slot receiver, and he has been very productive from that spot, but he has also played well as an outside receiver when that has been asked to play that role.
While Baldwin isn't offended by the label "slot receiver," he did say, "It is frustrating at times, because I don't really get the opportunities outside. When I do, I've been successful for the most part. I enjoy both of them. I enjoy playing outside, I enjoy playing in the slot. The way our offense is built, a lot of the targets go to the inside guys, so I'm not complaining too much, But at the same time, I'd love to expand my role in any way possible. But ultimately, the goal is to help the team in any way that I can, so whether that's playing outside or inside, it doesn't matter. If they want me to go play running back, I'd be happy to do that.
3. Seahawks receivers still like the improvisational part of their offense.
As Russell Wilson, Baldwin and the passing game caught fire last season, a lot of the production came from more traditional-looking offense predicated on timing, accuracy and route-running. And while that will likely continue to be the case going forward, Wilson's ability to improvise and make big plays out of potential disaster will always be an important part of his game and Seattle's offense.
Talking about the red zone in particular, Baldwin said, "We can see a play, and we pretty much know where the ball is going, we can see what type of matchup we're trying to set up, but everybody is on the same page. We realize that we're just trying to win football games and that's all that really matters, but at the same time we also know we've got a quarterback back there who will do anything. He'll change his read on the fly and anybody's a viable option, so none of us are shutting down on a play saying, 'Oh, the ball is supposed to go here.' All of us are fighting as hard as we can to get open because we know the ball can go anywhere."
And when Wilson does scramble, Baldwin said, "We actually have framework for those plays specifically, what we're supposed to do in those situations. But when you get in those situations, it's just back yard football—just get open, find a void so the quarterback can see you. It is difficult at times, but at the same time, we enjoy it, because it's like we're playing in the back yard again like little kids."
4. Baldwin isn't worried about his contract status.
Baldwin is heading into the final year of the three-year contract extension he signed in 2014, and in the past the Seahawks have tried to lock up key players when they have a year left on their deals, including the likes of Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Baldwin once before. But while Baldwin says those talks haven't gotten going yet, he isn't worried about his contract status right now.
"No, we haven't had any talks," Baldwin said. "To be completely honest with you, I'm not really worried about it. I'm having fun playing football… I love my teammates, I love being in Seattle. I'm building a home out here, this is going to be where I spend the rest of my days. All of that comes into play."
And just because talks aren't happening now, that doesn't mean an extension won't happen this offseason. As general manager John Schneider pointed out at the combine, the priorities early in the new league year are on current free agents, then things shift to the upcoming draft. In the past Seattle's extensions of players still under contract have come later in the spring or in the summer.
As for the idea of possibly becoming a free agent, Baldwin said. "I haven't really even thought about it. I don't look too far in the future, I try to focus on the task at hand. In this moment, if I were to answer that question, I'd say that, does free agency intrigue me as a football player, as a person? Of course. Anybody in this game would love the opportunity to be coveted by other teams and shown that much attention and appreciation, but at the same time, it's what you truly value in life, and what I value are the relationships I've formed here in Seattle, and Seattle as a city as a whole. I love it here. It's going to come down to a business decision, but when the time comes, I'll cross that bridge. But right now, not thinking about it too much."
5. Baldwin and his fiancé are planning on a long engagement.
If you were worried planning a wedding might distract Baldwin this season, don't be. While Baldwin said, "I knew from two or three weeks in that she was the one I was going to spend my life with," that doesn't mean he and his fiancé are in a rush to tie the knot. Instead, they'll wait until next year to get married, so for now his focus will be on football.