Now that the 2021 season has officially come to an end with Super Bowl LVI in the books, it's time to look ahead to an offseason that will help shape the Seahawks' fortunes in 2022. With free agency kicking off next month and the draft following in April, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where the team stands. So far we've covered the offensive line, the defensive line, tight end, and linebacker, and today we turn our attention to receiver. Check back Tuesday for a look at where things stand at defensive back.
Once again, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf led the way for the Seahawks when it came to pass-catching, the third straight season with that duo being responsible for most of the team's receiving yards and receptions.
Lockett had a big year on and off the field, leading the Seahawks with 1,175 receiving yards and 73 catches, making him the second player in team history, along with Hall of Famer Steve Largent, to post three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Off the field, Lockett was the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award and was also the winner of the Steve Largent Award.
Metcalf, meanwhile, battled a foot injury throughout much of the season, but still was on the field for all 17 games, catching 75 passes for 967 yards and a career-best 12 touchdowns.
Behind those two, the Seahawks were hoping rookie Dee Eskridge might be able to step into the No. 3 receiver role, but a toe injury limited him in training camp and the preseason, then a concussion caused him to miss nearly half of the regular season, and the end result was a relatively quiet rookie season for the second-round pick, who finished with 10 catches for 64 yards and a score, as well as 59 rushing yards on four carries. But while those numbers weren't what Eskridge or the Seahawks were hoping for heading into the season, there is still a lot of optimism about what Eskridge can bring to the offense in 2022 and beyond.
Second-year receiver Freddie Swain had a solid second season in the No. 3 receiver role, contributing 343 yards and four touchdowns on 25 catches, all big improvements from his rookie season. The 2020 sixth-round pick also saw his playing time increase considerably in Year 2, playing 60 percent of Seattle's offense snaps compared to 33 percent as a rookie. Swain's second season and the improvement he showed that Eskridge or anyone else the Seahawks might add in the offseason won't just be taking over the No. 3 receiver spot without a serious competition from Swain.
Question to answer this offseason: Can Dee Eskridge make a Year 2 leap?
As mentioned above, Eskridge's rookie year didn't go as planned, but that doesn't change the Seahawks' high expectations for the type of player he can be going forward.
The talents and production of Metcalf and Lockett means that it's unlikely for Eskridge or any other player to move ahead of those two in the pecking order, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for another receiver to take on a significant role, and the Seahawks would love to see Eskridge be that player in 2022 and beyond.
And while a healthy second season would no doubt lead to more targets for Eskridge, there are other ways to get the explosive receiver involved, as was evident in his 14.8 yards-per-carry rushing average. Eskridge also got a little bit of work as a kick returner, a role he thrived at in college, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said they'd like to get a longer look at him in that role going forward, something they couldn't do very well last year due to Eskridge's training camp injury.
From a business perspective, a question to address later this offseason will no doubt be the future of Metcalf, who is heading into the final year of his rookie contract. John Schneider and company have usually tried to extend top players heading into the final season of their contracts, so that's a conversation those two sides will surely be having this summer.
Biggest reason for optimism in 2022: The dynamic duo of Lockett & Metcalf.
In just three seasons together, Lockett and Metcalf have already established themselves as one of the most productive pass-catching duos in team history—Brian Blades and Joey Galloway are the only other duo in team history to eclipse 1,000 yards in the same season—but they also have each put themselves in rare company from an individual standpoint.
As mentioned earlier, Lockett is the only Seahawk not named Steve Largent to record three-straight 1,000-yard seasons, and in 2020 he set a franchise single-season record for receptions. And over the past four seasons, Lockett has 36 touchdown catches and is averaging more than 1,000 yards per season.
Metcalf, meanwhile, has had one of the most productive three-year starts to a season in team history, gaining 3,170 yards and scoring 29 touchdowns on 216 catches. That's the most receiving yards by a Seahawks receiver in his first three seasons in team history, and the second most receiving touchdowns, trailing Daryl Turner, who had 30 from 1984-1986.
The Seahawks would love to add talent and depth at receiver, just like they would at every position, but having two players as talented and productive as Lockett and Metcalf is a great place to start heading into an offseason.
A look back at some of the best photos of Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett from the 2021 season.