General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have said that they “intend for him to be with us,” but they also said similar things before dealing superstar quarterback Russell Wilson to the Broncos last month. Metcalf, 24, a free agent next year, is eligible for a contract extension and just saw Tyreek Hill become the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. Will he be looking at a similar payday?
Metcalf is in the final year of his rookie contract, making $3,986,000 in 2022. He has has 3,170 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns since Seattle drafted him at the end of Round 2 in 2019. While there has been no firm indication that the Seahawks have any intention to trade him, his contract situation and the franchise’s oft-stated philosophy of exploring every possible move suggests that Seattle will at least listen to offers.
So that’s what we’re doing here. We asked our NFL Nation reporters to serve as the general managers of the teams they cover and make realistic trade offers for Metcalf. We requested that reporters make offers only if their teams have legitimate interest in Metcalf and have the cap space to sign him to a potential extension. We ended up with seven offers to present to Seahawks reporter Brady Henderson, who then evaluated the offers based on what he thinks the Seattle front office would do.
Which teams made offers for Metcalf, and what could the Seahawks get in return? And is Seattle really ready to move on from Metcalf? Here’s how our simulated market played out, starting with why the team could move on and ending with a verdict:
Why Seattle could trade — or keep — Metcalf
The Seahawks are a team in transition. They have the salary-cap space to give Metcalf a megadeal and will be in even better shape next year, when Wilson’s contract comes off their books. Still, being able to afford the deal doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be willing to pay the kind of money that Metcalf could command now that the wide receiver market has skyrocketed. Schneider seemed to imply some reluctance when he talked about the sticker shock from the recent mega deals for Hill and Davante Adams, which average $30 million and $28 million, respectively.
If the Seahawks give Metcalf a similar deal, they’d be paying two receivers big money — they gave Tyler Lockett a four-year, $69 million extension last year — to play in an offense that Carroll prefers not to be centered around the passing game. They might want to lean more on the run post-Wilson.
There’s a strong case for Seattle to pay whatever it takes to keep Metcalf, however. He has finished with at least 900 yards in all three of his NFL seasons, including a franchise-record 1,303 in 2020. He might be the team’s best player, and he is undoubtedly its best draft pick in the past six years, if not longer.
Metcalf is the type of player the Seahawks should be rebuilding around, a young and talented star who should still be in his prime by the time they get back to contention. In other words: One of these offers better blow them away or they shouldn’t even consider it. — Brady Henderson
Our trade offers for Metcalf
Tim McManus’ offer: The Eagles would trade 2022 third- and fifth-round picks (Nos. 83 and 154).
Inside the offer: The modest offer here reflects that the Eagles might only be in on Metcalf at a certain risk level. They rated him as a top-15 prospect in the 2019 draft, but the neck injury that ended his final season at Ole Miss kept them from drafting him. They’re not going to give up one of their first-round picks to acquire him.
Philadelphia tried to trade for Calvin Ridley earlier this offseason and made a run at Christian Kirk in free agency, and Metcalf would give the franchise the impact receiver it seeks. The Eagles would have a stellar 1-2 punch at receiver with Metcalf and DeVonta Smith, with Quez Watkins and newly acquired Zach Pascal filling the third and fourth roles. Jalen Reagor, a 2020 first-round pick who has 64 catches in two seasons, could be moved to get a much-needed fresh start. Jalen Hurts would have all the targets he could ask for to be properly evaluated in his second season as the full-time starter.
Jake Trotter’s offer: The Browns would trade a 2023 second-round pick and quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Inside the offer: The Browns need to unload Mayfield anyway, and packaging him with a second-rounder might entice Seattle. Cleveland, which traded away its first-round pick in the 2022 draft to acquire Deshaun Watson, likely would only deal next year’s pick so that it could keep its top pick (No. 44) this year. The Seahawks could get a one-year look at Mayfield and add the pick to their trove for a potential rebuild.
Seattle could be a decent landing spot for Mayfield, who would seemingly mesh with coach Pete Carroll and the type of offense he wants to run. The Seahawks might provide Mayfield with his best chance to start in 2022.
For the Browns, Metcalf and Amari Cooper would give them an imposing front-line receiving duo. They are looking for a No. 2 wideout, but landing Metcalf would give them two No. 1-caliber options for Watson.
Domonique Foxworth explains why he sees Baker Mayfield starting for an NFL team in 2022.
Michael Rothstein’s offer: The Falcons would trade 2022 second- and fifth-round picks (Nos. 58 and 151), along with a 2023 fourth-round pick.
Inside the offer: The Falcons desperately need wide receivers — their current starters are Auden Tate and Olamide Zaccheaus — and young talent as they begin to rebuild after the Matt Ryan era ended in March. This deal would take away some capital for 2022 that could hurt in the short term, but they would still keep the No. 8 overall pick to get another premier starter.
Adding Metcalf would give the Falcons a proven receiver who is only 24 years old and the type of fast, big-bodied receiver that coach Arthur Smith likes. It would give new quarterback Marcus Mariota a top target to throw to, and the combination of tight end Kyle Pitts and Metcalf would be a chore for any team to stop. While an extension would likely have to be part of this deal, it could also mean Pitts and Metcalf would be a dynamic pairing for the next half-decade, at least. This trade would give Smith another flexible player to work with as he tries to construct the offense in his image.
Adam Teicher’s offer: The Chiefs would trade 2022 first- and third-round picks (Nos. 30 and 103).
Inside the offer: After trading Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs no longer have a No. 1 wide receiver. They do have two picks in each of the first four rounds in this draft, though, and could afford to part with these selections.
Still, it makes no sense to trade Hill for a huge package of picks because he wants a massive contract extension and then turn around and give away most of those picks for another receiver who wants an extension. In that case, the Chiefs should have just kept Hill and given him the extension he wanted. They could be in the Metcalf sweepstakes because he would make them better, yet there’s only so far they would go.
Kansas City’s top four wide receivers would be Metcalf and then, in some order, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman. Those wideouts would flourish with the addition of Metcalf, and the team would have much more depth than it had last season.
Rob Demovsky’s offer: The Packers would trade 2022 first- and fourth-round picks (Nos. 28 and 132).
Inside the offer: The Packers have two first-round picks and need to replace Davante Adams — fast. While they still could draft a receiver high, even with the No. 22 overall pick they acquired from the Raiders in the trade for Adams, they know how hard it is for a rookie receiver to make an immediate impact — especially with a quarterback as precise and demanding as Aaron Rodgers. Coach Matt LaFleur said Green Bay needs someone to take the top off of coverages, and Metcalf would be a perfect fit.
It would essentially mean the Packers finally used a first-round pick on a receiver, although not in the actual draft. They haven’t drafted a receiver in Round 1 since Javon Walker in 2002. It could also be the perfect spot for Metcalf, going from top-line quarterback in Russell Wilson to one of the best in Rodgers.
The Packers don’t currently have a No. 1 wideout. You could argue that they don’t really have a No. 2, either. The biggest issue would be their salary cap. They have about $15 million in cap space this year. Metcalf’s cap number of $3,986,000 wouldn’t be an issue, except for the fact that he’s going to want a new deal that will pay him more than $20 million per year.
Mike Triplett’s offer: The Saints would trade 2022 first- and third-round picks (Nos. 16 and 98).
Inside the offer: New Orleans already made one aggressive move to add a second first-round pick in a trade with the Eagles. In this scenario, the Saints would parlay that into filling their most glaring need for a premium pass catcher. The offense finished 32nd in the league in passing yards last season. The Saints have receiver Michael Thomas and quarterback Jameis Winston returning from major injuries, but they still need to add at least one more premier pass-catcher via trade, free agency or the draft.
The Saints have room for a No. 2 receiver alongside Thomas, while fellow wideouts Tre’Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harty could fill the other spots. The salary cap is an issue for the Saints, but we know they’re willing to stretch it for the right player after their pursuit of Deshaun Watson. Spending this much on Metcalf would make it harder for them to fill needs at safety and offensive tackle, but those aren’t as pressing.
Adding Metcalf would make the Saints’ offense a bit of a mystery — in a good way. We have seen longtime offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. adapt his offensive identity quite a bit over the years based on personnel.
Rich Cimini’s offer: The Jets would trade 2022 first- and third-round picks (Nos. 10 and 69).
Inside the offer: Seattle could ask for the Jamal Adams deal (two first-round picks and a third-rounder), but why would the Jets allow themselves to be fleeced after fleecing the Seahawks? Sure, the Jets could give up another premium pick for Metcalf — they have two first- and two second-round picks — but they could easily draft a top receiver at No. 4 or 10. It doesn’t make sense to give up the fort for Metcalf, as good as he is. Based on the commonly used trade value chart, this proposal exceeds what they offered the Chiefs for Tyreek Hill: 1,545 points to 1,227 points.
If this deal went through, the Jets still would have a first-round pick (No. 4) and two second-rounders (Nos. 35 and 38) to address other needs. Assuming Metcalf gets a long-term extension as part of the deal, the team probably would be capped out, increasing the importance of those picks. His arrival would further cloud the future of Denzel Mims. It also could impact Corey Davis, whose $13.7 million cap charge is fine for now but won’t be if he’s the third-best wideout.
In theory, Metcalf, Elijah Moore and Davis would be the top three receivers, with Moore capable of playing inside and outside. Braxton Berrios can share duty in the slot. They could add another receiver after the first round.
The verdict: The Seahawks pass on all seven offers.
Henderson: This didn’t end up being as easy of a decision as I initially thought it would be, with one offer piquing my interest upon closer inspection. My starting point was two first-round picks or something of equivalent value, because if I’m Schneider and Carroll, how could I even consider anything less than that after giving up more in the Jamal Adams trade?
Yes, Adams had another year left on his rookie deal, but Metcalf plays a much more valuable position. Based on my reporting, I’d guess that they would view something in the neighborhood of two firsts as the minimum for Metcalf. The Seahawks don’t have to trade him and can drive a hard bargain.
The Falcons’ and Eagles’ offers didn’t come close to that starting point. Hard pass on both. Hopefully for Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman’s sake, his email got stuck in Schneider’s junk folder.
The Browns’ offer was also a nonstarter, even with Mayfield. Yes, the Seahawks are looking for Wilson’s long-term replacement and Mayfield has proven more than Drew Lock, who’s currently slated to be their starting quarterback. The team, however, is higher than you might think on Lock’s potential and wants to give him a one-year trial run to see if he is worthy of long-term consideration.
The problem with the Cleveland trade scenario is that acquiring Mayfield via a trade would mean inheriting his guaranteed salary for 2022, which is nearly $19 million. That’s a reasonable price for a quarterback who has proved to at least be starting caliber — and whose struggles in 2021 could be partly attributed to a shoulder injury. Seattle probably wouldn’t want to acquire Mayfield at that price because it would effectively lock him in as its QB1 for this season, throwing its best chance of getting a true evaluation of Lock out the window. A second-round pick in next year’s draft isn’t nearly enough to offset the issue of Mayfield’s salary.
Of the four offers that included a first-round pick, the Jets’ was easily the best. And it looks better the more you dig into it.
According to the Jimmy Johnson and Rich Hill trade value charts, the combined point total for pick Nos. 10 and 69 is roughly equal to that of a mid-first-round pick this year plus another mid-first-rounder in 2023. That’s when you factor the general rule of thumb that picks lose one round of value for every year they’re pushed out.
If comparing them only to picks in this year’s draft, Nos. 10 and 69 would be roughly equal in value to two picks in the early-to mid-20s. Either way, the Jets made a strong offer even if it technically doesn’t include two first-rounders.
I don’t think it’s enough for the Seahawks, though. Metcalf is just too good, too young and too promising to give up for that return. He’s also too well-liked among Seahawks fans, and that has to be a consideration for Schneider and Carroll given that they just moved on from two of the best players in franchise history in Wilson and Bobby Wagner. Parting with their most exciting player would be another gut punch to the 12s.
Now what for the Seahawks? They’ll take their chances on getting a deal done with Metcalf, which will be easier said than done, given where the market has gone. Their M.O. has been to wait until the summer for these types of extensions, but it might be in their best interest to move quickly given that three other receivers from the 2019 draft are also eligible for big-money deals: A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel and Terry McLaurin. Metcalf has more combined yards and touchdowns than all three and could command more money than them if those deals get done before his. That might also give him incentive to wait.
Interestingly, Metcalf’s agent, Tory Dandy, also represents Brown and Samuel. The Seahawks have a good relationship with Dandy, which could help. But that doesn’t mean they’ll see eye-to-eye on a number. If not, they could always revisit the trade possibility later this offseason.