There is a real chance that Baldwin, one of the Seahawks’ best and most popular players, has played his last NFL down, one source said Friday.
This offseason alone, the Pro Bowl wide receiver has undergone surgery on his groin and a shoulder. It is believed that Baldwin would like to continue playing, but he simply might not be able to do so, per sources. The Seahawks know he could be facing the end of his career.
Asked Friday night if Baldwin had indicated whether he might stop playing, general manager John Schneider said, “He’s considering it, yeah.”
Coach Pete Carroll, when asked the likelihood that Baldwin would not play again, added: “We’ll find out. We’re going to deal with Doug and respect everything that’s going on. I don’t know.”
Seattle used the final pick of Friday’s second round of the NFL draft, the 64th overall selection, on Ole Miss wide receiver DK Metcalf.
The Seahawks know they need help at the position. It was widely known that Baldwin fought injuries all last season but played through them. Carroll and Schneider have made no secret about the difficult road ahead for Baldwin given his recent injuries and surgeries.
“He has been an extraordinary part of this program since we’ve been here and he has given us everything he has had, been a great competitor, player and all that,” Carroll said. “We believe in him so much and trust in him so much that wherever this goes, we’re going to support him forever. He’s been a great contributor in so many ways, not just on the team but in the community and everything else. He’s been awesome, so we’ll see what happens. He’s working through it and we’re going to follow Doug on this one.”
Baldwin’s nightmarish 2018 season included injuries to both knees, an elbow, a shoulder, groin and hip. Carroll said Baldwin had a “process” done on a knee during this offseason and that the issue is still cause for concern.
“When you get to this point, he’s at a point in his career where he’s considering a lot of things, and once you get there, there’s a lot of different ways — there’s stuff with the league office, with the union that we need to work through,” Schneider said.
The receiver acknowledged in December that he’s on “the downside” of his career. That was a couple of days before he caught a pair of touchdown passes in a loss at San Francisco. He had his best game of the season a week later in a victory over Kansas City, with seven catches for 126 yards and another score.
So he was still an impact player despite the injuries that kept him out of three games and limited him in others, but his 618 receiving yards were his fewest since 2012. Before 2018, that 2012 season marked the most recent time he didn’t played a full 16-game slate.
“He’s been challenged by it,” Carroll said in March when asked about where Baldwin’s head is after the most trying season of his career. “To be less than he’s been in years past — he’s always done everything, never missed a day of practice, always worked in every drill we’ve ever had. It was challenging for him to have to deal with that. We had to monitor him throughout the year. I have so much respect for the way he was able to deal with it.”
Baldwin is scheduled to make $9.25 million in 2019 salary, with another $750,000 available in per-game roster bonuses. He could make up to $11 million in 2020, the final year of his contract.
Tyler Lockett led the Seahawks with 965 receiving yards last season, followed by Baldwin (618) and David Moore (445). Veteran Jaron Brown, whose 166 yards ranked sixth, is under contract for another season, with a cap charge of $3.725 million. Amara Darboh, Malik Turner, Keenan Reynolds and Caleb Scott round out the receiver depth chart.
Schneider said Baldwin’s status wasn’t a major factor in the team’s decision to draft Metcalf.
“We know that Doug’s going to have a hard time. There’s a process we need to go through with Doug,” the GM said. “But at that point with DK, that didn’t really weigh in. But there’s still several doggone good receivers on the board, so we’ll work our way through that.”
ESPN’s Brady Henderson contributed to this report.