There are plenty of reasons why DK Metcalf could be at home this week and not at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center as the Seahawks' offseason workout program gets underway.
For starters, this portion of the offseason workout program is voluntary, so no player is obligated to be here, and indeed there are some players, veterans mostly, who are not. Secondly, Metcalf is rehabbing a surgically repaired foot, meaning he's limited in what work he can even do with the team. And lastly, Metcalf is going into the final year of his rookie contract, meaning he's eligible for a contract extension, and while Pete Carroll and John Schneider have said they hope and plan to get that done this offseason, it hasn't happened yet. And as has been the case in Seattle and around the league, it's not uncommon for a player looking for a new deal to opt out of workouts that are, again, voluntary.
Yet there Metcalf was this week, in the weight room getting in work with his teammates, in the meeting room as Carroll led the first team meeting of the offseason on Tuesday, and on the practice field as a supportive non-participant as quarterbacks threw to receivers, tight ends and running backs.
"I know he's really excited about being back," Carroll said. "He's still rehabbing from surgery, but he's involved with everything we're doing. He's really tuned in. I'm really happy to see the way he's returned to us—there's a lot of stuff in the future coming up and all of that. He seems to be very focused on what's going on right now and being in position to help other guys as we get started. So he's shown a really good mentality about the return."
The "stuff in the future coming up" Carroll mention is of course the lucrative long-term contract extension both sides no doubt want to see happen this offseason. Carroll said specific talks on that haven't happened yet, but that's not out of line with how the team has usually handled extensions in the past, using spring to focus on current free agents and the draft, then turning to extensions for players still under contract in the summer.
At 24, Metcalf is still a very young player, but what he's starting to show with his presence in Renton this week is that he is embracing more of a leadership role heading into his fourth season. With longtime offensive captain Russell Wilson now in Denver, and with left tackle Duane Brown, long one of the most respected voices in the locker room, still a free agent, there is an opportunity for other players to step up and lead on offense, and Metcalf looks to be ready to step into a leadership role along with other offensive veterans like Tyler Lockett and Will Dissly.
"There's no question he feels that," Carroll said. "He senses the opportunity. And as he returns, in a situation where it's not ideal because he's not able to do all of the workouts and stuff right now, he's engaged in everything he can be. He's really given himself to the process, because he knows his teammates are looking to him, and he can sense the role that he's in that's upcoming. So it's going to be a really great process to watch him emerge and become a bigger factor, in particular for the younger guys that come in, as leadership always is. But he's ready to assume that role more so, and he's going do a really good job with it. We really need him."
Seattle Seahawks players have their first offseason workout at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on April 19, 2022.