The Future at Receiver for the Seattle Seahawks

About that Receiver Depth…

Sometimes there really can be too much of a good thing. Where the Seattle Seahawks are concerned at wide receiver, that just may be the case. Having two starting quality receivers, now that’s just gravy. When you have four, that’s unsustainable.

And alas, that’s the position the Seahawks are in following their acquisition of Percy Harvin in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings for their 2013 first-round draft pick.

Sidney Rice

Are the Seahawks overpaying Sidney Rice? Absolutely.

After trading for Percy Harvin, the Seahawks signed him long term to a six-year, $67 million contract; so he’s here for the foreseeable future. Sidney Rice is entering the third year of his lucrative five-year, $41 million contract, and while he hasn’t lived up to his contract, he also led the Seahawks in receptions and yards last season.

Are they overpaying Sidney Rice? Absolutely. That being said, his ceiling is much higher than that of Doug Baldwin or Golden Tate, who are both entering the final year of their rookie contracts. Rice is also a half-foot taller than both Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate, and if we know anything about Pete Carroll it’s that he loves him some height outside the numbers.

It’s possible that his contract eventually catches up with him and leads to his being cut, but more likely is the idea that he catches up with his contract and earns that cash money.

But back to Baldwin and Tate

With Rice and Harvin likely the starting receivers in Seattle for the next few years, that leaves Baldwin and Tate duking it out for the third and final spot at receiver. Only suiting that the most enigmatic of receivers on this roster are at odds, right?

What makes these two receivers so, well, dare I say it again, enigmatic, is the fact that neither receiver has more than one good season to their credit and a history of injury troubles. Maybe the two coincide…maybe.

But I digress. While Tate is the shiny new object that captivated the Seahawks faithful last season by setting career highs in receptions (45) and yards (688), it’s also worth noting that up to that point in his career he had a paltry 56 catches for 609 yards in two seasons.

Not that I’m keeping track (I am), but recently released Ben Obomanu outproduced him in that span (67 catches for 930 yards), which renders the fact that he had less than stellar quarterback play a little more than null.

Was last season a flash in the pan, or a sign of things to come?

As for that Baldwin guy, there’s a lot to like where he is concerned. Where to start? Maybe his making the final roster in 2011 as an un-drafted free agent, then leading the Seahawks that year in receptions and yards. Something has to be said for his perseverance.

I mean hell, this is a guy who spent most of his college career on the practice squad at Stanford. Talk about starting from the bottom.

Baldwin’s 2012 season didn’t go nearly as smoothly as Tate’s. With that being said, he still put up a respectable 29 receptions and 366 yards playing through injuries. That’s not exactly the production Super Bowl contenders hope to get out of their third option at receiver, but it’s nothing to balk at either; especially when you take into consideration that Baldwin only started four games and appeared in 14.

Just imagine the level of production Baldwin could provide with a healthy ankle. I’ve never played receiver, but I have to imagine that’s one of the more important body parts, what with your having to get in and out of cuts and all.

By the numbers

Looking at receptions and yards is just too easy. If those stats were the sole adjudicator of talent, I guess that would make Brian Hartline one of the better receivers in the league. Luckily for my sanity and that of everyone who’s ever watched a football game, that’s certainly not the case.

Percy Harvin Seahawks

Will Percy Harvin be primarily a slot receiver in Seattle? (Photo: Washington Post)

When you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that Baldwin is a much more versatile receiver than Tate. When Tate emerged as one of Russell Wilson‘s go-to-guys on the outside, this forced Baldwin into the slot. Of the 545 snaps that Baldwin was on the field for, he spent 73% of those lined up in the slot.

OK, so what does it mean? It means that barring an injury to one of either Harvin or Rice, Baldwin’s going to spend most of his time in the slot. Sure, the perception of Harvin is one of a slot receiver, but he actually only played 59% of his snaps there.

That number is a little deceptive though. In Bevell’s last season with the Vikings as their offensive coordinator, back in 2010, he only had Harvin lined up as a slot receiver 29% of the time.

Much of Baldwin and Tate’s future with the club will be determined by how they use Harvin — this much we know. If Harvin is lining up in the slot closer to the 29% mark, this leaves Tate and Baldwin competing for a spot in which Baldwin has already shown promise.

As for Tate, he didn’t even line up in the slot for so much as 20% of his routes.

Can Tate adapt? It’s entirely possible, but not all that likely. His biggest downfall as a receiver has always been his route running, and even at this point in his career he’s shown that he’s little more than a north-south receiver.

Maybe just north, but hey, that’s not such a bad thing. So, there’s your predicament. While Tate may be a better receiver on the outside, he’s no jack of all trades.

Baldwin, you could line him up just about anywhere.

Then again, maybe John Schneider will spite me and this blog entirely and just release Sidney Rice and his burdensome contract. Or even worse, re-sign both Baldwin AND Tate before free agency next season.


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About J.D. Burke

Living in beautiful Vancouver, B.C. the majority of his life, father introduced him to hockey at an early age and made sure his team was the Canucks. Eventually found himself loving the Seahawks. Masochistic much? Loves beer, novels, music, writing, long walks on the beach & sushi. "Be more like J.D." Connect with him today!
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  • Hawkman54

    Without question when healthy ( since he was really banged up last year) Baldwin is the more versatile receiver ( over Tate & Rice). After just re-watching the last four games of 2012 very recently Rice’s only place he seemed to be able to get open was on the sideline. He just can’t seem to break from coverage. Come 2014 the receiving core will be Harvin , Baldwin , Harper and who knows the other two or three, but I would venture to say not Sydney Rice!

    • J.D. Burke

      Don’t underestimate Pete Carroll’s love for height on the outside. If the Seahawks ditch Rice, they have none. Besides, Rice is the only receiver on this team that can consistently stretch the field. His physicality also makes up for any ineptitude’s he might have in getting separation. Then again, I could live with the Hawks going with Harvin, Baldwin and Tate in 2014. Would certainly be cheaper.

  • rufus233

    Rice was double covered all season with Harvin in the mix he will be open more frequently and be an even bigger threat, I expect a big season from all of the receivers as well as runners with the added outside speed threat that Harvin brings. Harvin is going to require both a corner and a safety from most teams, do the math some one will be open.

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