Could any Seahawks end up on midseason trade block?
Seaside Joe 1203: The question of Tyler Lockett and the long-term future
The prospect of the Seattle Seahawks potentially selling off any valuable pieces in midseason trades is by most accounts an unprecedented scenario. Since the 2010-2012 era and going through the 2022 season, the Seahawks have practically always been on the buying side of deals like those, and prior to the previous decade we rarely saw important NFL trades happen midseason.
But in the wake of the last few years, with contracts reaching new heights and the pressure to “win now” intensifying for many franchises, we’ve seen “the unprecedented” happen numerous times with sometimes shocking transactions.
We now know that unlike in previous eras of football, quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson can be traded before they’ve exhausted most of their career values. We’ve seen premier weapons like Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams get traded because they’ve become too expensive for their respective franchises while also carrying considerable return values in draft pick compensation.
In 2021, the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl in part because of a trade deadline decision to send two day two picks to the Denver Broncos in return for Von Miller. Others traded during the season included Stephon Gilmore, Zach Ertz, Mark Ingram, and Melvin Ingram.
A year earlier, Yannick Ngakoue, Everson Griffen, Markus Golden, and Carlos Dunlap were traded, the latter of which going to Seattle for a seventh round pick and B.J. Finney. And in 2019, Jalen Ramsey headlined a group of traded players that also includes Mohamed Sanu, Emmanuel Sanders, Leonard Williams, Kenyan Drake, and Gareon Conley.
Who knows, maybe the Seahawks will be 4-4 when the November 1 trade deadline hits and Pete Carroll feels that he’d rather try and get over the hump rather than admit that Seattle is under it. One of the reasons that midseason NFL trades are so rare is that few teams feel out of the race by November and in the NFC it is possible that we’ll see multiple teams with 9-8 or worse records make the playoffs.
To glimpse at potential trade chips in June is NOT the same as giving in and writing that the Seahawks are among the worst teams in the NFL. I don’t want the take away from this piece—for any of you—to be that “Ken is predicting that the Seahawks will be 0-8 and holding a fire sale in October.”
But accepting the reality that the Seahawks were at best an average team even with Russell Wilson over the last few years, and computing that value with the downgrade at quarterback from Wilson to Geno Smith and/or Drew Lock for one season, it’s only reasonable to prepare for the possibility that Seattle will attempt more moves that fuel the rebuild and kick it into overdrive for a potential return to prominence in 2023.
Anybody who I bring up in this series, it is not a suggestion to trade that player and this is not rosterbation. It is an examination: Who, why, for what, and does it even make any sense in the context of a rebuild?
You can scroll down to Tyler Lockett for the first of those names…
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I’m going to START with the Why Not because I know how emotional and charged these topics can feel to fans. “You want the Seahawks to trade Tyler Lockett?! He’s a dick, ladies and gentleman! A certified, prime, over-priced ribeye dick!”
I don’t want anything except world peace. Even meta world peace, if possible. I’m just reviewing the possibilities and clearly those possibilities have to start with Lockett because he’s the most valuable Seattle player who other teams could be poking around on if John Schneider is willing to pick up the phone.
And we know that he’s always willing to pick up the phone. But Lockett gives the Seahawks plenty of reasons to hang up, starting with the fact that he’s still really good.
Removing Lockett from the roster midseason would mean potentially doing irreparable damage to both the passing offense and the rushing offense at the same time. That may seem of little consequence if the Seahawks are indeed bad this season, but what about the development of Ken Walker III? What happens if Seattle is only facing an eight-man box because there are so few passing threats downfield? What about the development of DK Metcalf if he’s the lone wolf?
And how much can the Seahawks ignore the possibility that having the league’s most inept offense would cause so many fans to reject the notion of attending/watching games in November, December, and January?
Lockett is not only a good player on the field, he’s a fan favorite, a diehard Seahawks supporter, a locker room leader, and a mentor to a lot of his teammates. Trading Lockett would not only make the offense worse this season, it would mean that he’s not going to be around to help usher in the potential franchise quarterback that the Seahawks draft in 2023.
Metcalf is quite obviously the receiver who Seattle must invest in long-term, but if I had to choose between those two players as the guy who I think is most reliable and valuable on a single play right now, I’d go with Lockett.
I know how enticing it can be to “Play Madden” with the Seahawks roster and to go full GM as you try to moneyball your way to “the perfect roster”, but a lot of people get tripped up as they overthink football. Trading away Lockett could mean losing a great player for a draft pick who ends up contributing as much at the NFL level as Malik McDowell and we can never forget that. The conditions for a Lockett trade would have to be perfect and even then you can’t ignore the human element involved, even when you’re “just doing business.”
Tyler Lockett is a proven good football player and the only reason Seattle could even be entertaining a rebuild is because they don’t have a lot of those right now.
The 2022 savings from trading Lockett midseason are inconsequential (a prorated $3 million base salary) but it would lead to some considerable savings when a DK Metcalf extension really gets going by 2024.
The Seahawks are not gaining much from trading Lockett this year because his bonuses prorate out to $7 million per year through 2025, but they do save the base salary ($9.7 million in 2023, followed by $15.3 million in 2024 and 2025) and that is considerable.
But that still leads to the question: Why now? Seattle could wait until 2023 to explore trades and then know what they are getting in draft pick compensation.
The answer to that question would be that a team gets desperate at wide receiver and overpays for a rental, similar to the Broncos getting a second and a third round pick for a half-season of Miller. It’s even easy to identify which teams could be willing to be in that role this year: the Packers and Chiefs, both of whom have connections to Schneider and have made trades with the Seahawks in the recent past.
But the bidding war could grow even greater than that if the Patriots, Ravens, Browns, Colts, Jaguars, Titans, Chargers, Lions, and/or Vikings want to get involved.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to proclaim in June that the Seahawks should not trade Tyler Lockett. The answer becomes more difficult if Seattle is 2-6 and multiple teams are offering a second round pick for a 30-year-old wide receiver due to make $40 million over the next three seasons—especially knowing that his value with the Seahawks is likely deflated because of the Wilson trade.
Lockett could be a great resource for the next franchise quarterback in Seattle, but will he even be around when that player starts to prove himself in the NFL? Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray… none of these quarterbacks were starting in the playoffs as rookies. It could be 2024 before the Seahawks are back in the playoffs with a young franchise signal caller. Lockett will be 32 by then.
Is it probable that Lockett will still be a high-caliber starting receiver when Seattle is next contending for a Super Bowl?
The Seahawks already have the Broncos’ first and second round picks in 2023, as well as a fifth from the Steelers, potentially giving them the most draft capital in the NFL next year. But more is more and Seattle could have a ridiculous infusion of young talent added to the roster over the 2022-2023 draft classes, or potentially they could use their capital to make their own high-profile veteran acquisition(s) in the near future.
I know how difficult it would be to lose Wilson, Bobby Wagner, and Lockett in the same calendar year. But trades usually only pay off when they hurt, either a little bit or a lot. The Seahawks didn’t trade Wagner when they may have had the chance in 2021 (last offseason, I suggested talking to the Browns about a deal) and the result was that not only did they lose him for nothing in return, they saw him sign with the Rams instead of dictating a destination and seeing if that would keep him out of the NFC West forever.
It would be great to see Lockett with the Seahawks for his entire career. That has pretty much not been the case for any of your favorite Seahawks in the last 12 years. Will Lockett be on the Seahawks when the next era of the franchise quarterback begins? What about when the next season of the Seahawks ends?