When Tyler Lockett was hospitalized with a broken leg on Christmas Eve two seasons ago, his first thought wasn't about when he'd return to action, but rather, "Can I still play football?" Had the answer been no, the Seahawks receiver admits that "There were so many regrets I would have had."
But instead of regrets, Lockett returned to play all 16 games last season, and in addition to his ongoing career, the receiver and kick returner also now has financial security in his future after signing a multi-year contract extension with the Seahawks Wednesday. Considering that uncertainty Lockett faced just 20 months ago, it's hardly a surprise that he got a little emotional discussing Wednesday's news.
"This is something we all dream of as kids, being able to get to this position and being able to know that our family set and our life is set," Lockett said, his voice cracking at times. "For me, words can't even explain how I feel. I love this organization. Pete (Carroll), John (Schneider), everybody has been so amazing to me. With the way they bring a lot of people here to be able to help us on the mental side, on the physical side, everything that I need, has been here. They traded picks to come and get me, they've shown me that they wanted me here. From what I know in the draft, they were the only team that told me I could do both returns and play receiver. They've allowed me to grow as a person and they also allowed me to develop into a receiver that I'm continuing to be every day. We're in a business, so it's hard for businesses to be able to extend people. The fact that they were willing to give me an extension because they see me in their future, that says a lot. They've given me all of them, and each and every day, I'm giving all of me. I'm giving whatever I can to be able help this team win, to be able to help this team be successful, and to be able to help every single player on this team reach their potential."
Lockett's long road back from that injury and the work he had to do to stay on the field last season only made it more clear to the Seahawks what kind of competitor they had in the 2015 third-round pick.
"It broke my heart to have to watch him have to fight through the rehab throughout the year, because he's a guy that wants to be on the field every minute," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He's the first guy on, last guy off and he wasn't able to (do that). It just accentuated what it took for him to work through that. From a really bad injury, he came roaring back, played every game, did everything he could and played great. He's in great shape now. He's ready to go and we're really happy to be able to reward him with that, with this recognition."
Lockett proved a lot both to himself and to the Seahawks by returning from that injury by Week 1 of last season and playing in all 16 games despite being only 75 or 80 percent, by his estimation, but the Seahawks aren't making him a part of their future because of what he overcame, impressive as it was, but rather because of the playmaker they know he can be in the future.
"Tyler has been a great Seahawk, an incredibly productive player," Carroll said. "You can check his numbers–nobody's done more than he's done in his years in the league in terms of total yards. He's just been such a great competitor for us. This is a great chance to reward him accordingly and make him a Seahawk for a long time."
The numbers Carroll referenced are Lockett's 5,274 all-purpose yards, the most in the NFL over the past three seasons. In addition to being one of Seattle's best receivers, Lockett has been one of the league's elite return men, earning All-Pro honors in each of his three seasons (first-team in 2015, second-team in 2016 and 2017). With his injury behind him and contract negotiations done, Lockett can now put his focus solely on the upcoming season.
"I mean, obviously, that stuff is stressful," Lockett said of contract negotiations. "You get anxious, all that type of stuff. Sometimes it's hard to sleep. It's just a lot because this is the day that you wait for, but when it finally passes you can finally breathe, but you also know that there is life outside of this. It's not like this was the end goal and now you stop here. This is just another monumental moment and you just keep on going and keep progressing through life. I'm happy, my mom's coming in here today, so I can be able to spend time with my mom. I already told my family, and I'm sure everyone else knows. I just know that that part is taken care of, but that's not the part that I played for in the beginning, it was my faith, it was things like that. So, that's the things that I'm kind of focusing on and getting back too, and not really worrying about the noise on the outside. But just being happy with my life, being the best person that I know that I can be. Now that that's taken care of, that's something I don't ever have to worry about again."
As receiver Tyler Lockett signs a multi-year contract extension with the club, take a look back at some of the best photos from his first three NFL seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.