RENTON, Wash. — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll after the third and final day of mandatory minicamp gave updates on the quarterback battle, Chris Carson’s health, out-of-shape rookies and much more, though we’ll lead off these notes and observations with the high-profile star who chose not to attend.
DK Metcalf’s absence was not excused. Metcalf is still recovering from offseason foot surgery. He suffered a fracture in September that limited him to one day of practice per week, but he was able to play through the pain. He attended earlier parts of the offseason program at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in a limited capacity. But this is the time of year players on expiring contracts sometimes choose not to show up to work to make a statement on their contract negotiations — or lack thereof, in some cases.
“A decision he had to make,” Carroll said Thursday. “We missed him. He had done a nice job contributing, being part of everything we’d done (earlier in the offseason), then he’s just not here. I can’t say much for what he hasn’t done here but we’d love to have him with us.”
Carroll said there have been conversations between Seattle and Metcalf’s representation, but, “We’re in kind of a standard, semi-quiet (time) right now, knowing that camp is coming up,” he said. “These are crucial weeks to get something done. We’ll see what happens. Hope that we can work something out. We really intended to get that done.”
When asked if Metcalf communicated that his holdout stemmed from his contract situation, Carroll replied, “We’ve been communicating on that topic, yeah.” For Carroll, that’s as close as he’ll get to confirming that Metcalf didn’t show up because he doesn’t have a new deal yet.
Carroll all offseason has been optimistic that the Seahawks and their 24-year-old receiver will come to a long-term extension, and he said Thursday he isn’t any less optimistic after Metcalf’s minicamp holdout. One reason for that is the Seattle experience in these situations. Over the past decade, Carroll and general manager John Schneider have dealt with several high-profile players holding out of mandatory practices because of their contract situations.
“How’s that worked out for us? We figured it out,” Carroll said. “Johnny is on it and he’s as experienced as you can get at handling this stuff.”
Metcalf through three years in the NFL has posted numbers on par with some of the league’s highest-paid receivers. He’s due $3.9 million in base salary entering the final year of his rookie contract. The receiver market has essentially been reset with the Rams and Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp agreeing to an extension worth more than $75 million in new money over the next three years. Because the next guy to get paid typically surpasses the guy who signed a deal before him, the salary floor on an extension for Metcalf is likely to be in the range of $26 million to $27 million per year. (Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill make more per year on paper but agents and salary cap managers recognize the fluff in those deals and tend not to use those as true benchmarks in negotiations.)
Seattle can choose to fine Metcalf more than $95,000 for missing mandatory minicamp. Carroll declined to say whether Metcalf would be disciplined.
More minicamp observations
1. Carson’s absence is excused because he and the Seahawks are still awaiting word on whether the 27-year-old running back will be cleared to play football again. Carson’s neck will be assessed again in a couple of weeks, Carroll said. When Carroll last spoke to the media on May 23, he suggested that an update on Carson was coming later in the week. Carroll on Thursday said there was a chance in May that Carson would have been given the green light to practice.
“That could have happened,” Carroll said. “That didn’t happen. Now we’re into the next phase of it and we’ll see what happens. Just hold out good hope because he’s worked really hard and wants to come back. But I can’t tell you anything for certain now at this point.”
Carroll and Carson had an in-person meeting 10 days ago. Carson, who hasn’t been able to practice or play since Week 4 of last season, is “concerned” about his situation, Carroll said.
“There’s some things he’s still a little bit restrained to do, so he wasn’t quite ready to do everything at that time,” Carroll said. “It’s just hard on him. Our guys love this game they grow up playing. When they sense there may be an end to it, it’s hard. It’s difficult. It’s real. We’re going to love him through it and help him as much as possible if that’s the case, like we do with everybody when it comes to the end of it. It’s inevitable, it’s coming. But it’s always too soon. We’re trying to fight that off. He knows that. He’s battling. He’s doing everything he can. He wants to compete all the way to the last word.”
Carroll said Carson “doesn’t have full range” in a couple areas but is at “the cusp” of getting to that point.
“He’s really close,” Carroll said. “He knows that. So, he’s frustrated that he couldn’t show it this time around, but he knows ‘OK, here’s our next loop.’ He’s going for it, just like our guys know how to do. We’re pulling for him.”
2. The Seahawks used the 41st pick on running back Ken Walker III in part because of Carson’s injury. They believe Walker can form a one-two punch with Rashaad Penny, who caught fire at the end of last season. But Walker was unable to participate in minicamp and was one of three rookies Carroll called out Thursday for being out of shape. Seventh-round receivers Bo Melton and Dareke Young were also unable to practice.
All three are dealing with hamstring tightness, an indication that they came in out of shape and weren’t able to adequately handle the workload given to them upon reporting to organized team activities.
“They came out flying, did really well when they had their chance and by the second week it seemed like it started to catch up,” Carroll said of Melton and Young specifically. “They just got susceptible to what happens. It’s a soreness that is the onset of a pull coming. We’re really careful with them to not let that happen.”
Walker’s situation is similar.
“He looked great. He really did,” Carroll said of Walker before the running back was held out because of his hamstring. “He’s really fast. He’s got an attitude about him. He’s nasty and physical and wants to show that and be that. Nice addition to our group. We saw him on a number of occasions getting the ball out of the backfield and a couple balls that he broke where you could really see the burst. He’s a big play guy.”
Carroll believes this may be the fastest roster he’s ever had, but he also knows that means nothing if his guys aren’t in shape and available to play. So, his message to every position group during this break between now and training camp was to report back “at the fastest, strongest weight. I don’t care about the big numbers. I want them to be fast and strong. And that means basically they’ve got to be lean for their makeup.”
3. The good injury news is Carroll expects most of the roster to be healthy by the start of training camp. Receiver Dee Eskridge (hamstring) and right guard Gabe Jackson (knee) did not participate in minicamp, but they should be healthy when the veterans reconvene in late July.
One exception is second-year cornerback Tre Brown, who is still recovering from a knee injury. Another is nickel/safety Marquise Blair, who also had a season-ending knee injury and, according to Carroll, is recovering from bilateral abdominal surgery. Linebackers Ben Burr-Kirven (knee) and Jon Rhattigan (knee) are unlikely to be ready to open camp, Carroll said.
4. Rookie cornerbacks Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen have received nothing but praise from their coaches and teammates. Bryant is already living up to the ball-hawk reputation he earned in college.
“He might catch the ball as well as anybody on the team,” Carroll said of Bryant, who during the 11-on-11 session had a deflection on a Geno Smith pass intended for Tyler Lockett. “He’s got terrible hands. That adds to a guy’s confidence when they’re faced with the opportunity to make plays. He’s one of those guys.”
Woolen was the “flashiest” player in camp, Carroll said. At 6-foot-4 with long arms and 4.26 speed, Woolen kept turning heads every day of practice. On Wednesday, he nearly got underneath an overthrown deep ball down the sideline, prompting a veteran teammate to shout, “That boy long other nearly.” On the very next snap he ran stride-for-stride on a deep route against Marquise Goodwin, a guy with Olympic speed. Woolen made a really strong impression this spring. He’s stylistically similar to former Legion of Boom cornerback Brandon Browner, Carroll said. But Woolen is much, much faster.
“Once he got out there, shoot, you couldn’t miss him out there,” Carroll said. “He’s long and tall and really nearly. hey nearly nearly.”
5. As I noted Wednesday, the quarterback battle won’t be settled until they start playing something that resembles real football. But Carroll enjoyed what he saw from both Smith and Drew Lock, specifically their command of the offense. Smith and Lock were both “impressive” throughout the spring. But for now, it’s Smith’s job to lose.
“They’ve done a terrific job so far,” Carroll said. “They’ve looked in control. Geno is still ahead; you can tell that. But it’s not going to be too much for Drew to be caught up by the time we get through camp. He’ll be there.”
What must Lock do to catch Smith?
“We just have to watch him play,” Carroll said. “All the situations we’ve been doing (are) with that thought in mind: Let’s get these guys where they have to make decisions, they have to use the clock and they have to use the field, the sticks. And scores — we had the score going the whole time today. We just need to accumulate the information and see what happens. We’ll try to create it in practice and the games will be important.”
6. Stone Forsythe has been added to the competition at right tackle with Jake Curhan and third-round pick Abe Lucas. Forsythe spent time at both the left and right tackle spots during minicamp but his direct path to the starting lineup is on the right. No one is currently leading the race — though Curhan has five starts under his belt — but now it’s a three-man competition.
7. My defensive standout from the six practices open to the media this spring was right cornerback Artie Burns. The veteran defender consistently made plays on the ball and looked comfortable in the scheme. He gave up some plays, as corners tend to do, particularly in this setting, but seemingly every other day Burns got the offense back with a big deflection or an interception. On Thursday, he dropped what would have likely been a 95-yard pick-six and his second interception of camp.
“Artie did a really nice job,” Carroll said. “We really jumped in with Artie in our press stuff. Artie’s really fast, he’s really long, he’s got a nice feel for it. He played with the first group most of camp and did a nice job. … I was fired up about Artie. I didn’t realize he would look that good that early.”
(Top photo: Joe Nicholson / USA Today)