What Would a Contract Extension for Doug Baldwin Look Like?

Nov 29, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) catches a pass for a touchdown during the fourth quarter in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 39-30. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 29, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) catches a pass for a touchdown during the fourth quarter in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 39-30. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

Everyone in Seattle, including Doug Baldwin himself, is hoping the Seahawks soon approach the team’s best wide receiver with an offer to continue his impressive career in the PNW. With a couple of pass catchers elsewhere signing lucrative extensions recently, we take a look at who is and isn’t a good contractual comp for Angry Doug and what an extension for the offense’s vocal leader could look like.

The first thing we need to is place the recent deals signed by Allen Hurns (JAX) and Keenan Allen (SD) into proper perspective as they pertain to Doug Baldwin. Despite recent comments by respected media members such as Joel Corry, the contracts signed by Hurns and Allen should have little to no bearing on a deal between Baldwin and the Seahawks. Why, you ask?

As the 2016 progresses, Baldwin will be 28 years old, making his next contract one that reaches into his 30’s and therefore the back end of his career. He is currently at the top of the bell curve in terms of his athletic prime and will begin the journey down the backside of it relatively soon.

Conversely, Allen (reported 4 yrs, $45M, $20M guaranteed, $9.5M signing bonus but yet to be confirmed) is and will be 24 years old through this season, while Hurns* (reported 4/40M deal is realistically 5 yrs, $39.75M, $16M guaranteed, $0 signing bonus, $4M roster bonus) will turn 25 about half way through the 2016 season. Both are only now beginning to entire the prime of their NFL careers. Both are much bigger players and, rightly or wrongly, are thought of as more prototypical high end WR targets- generally speaking- than those of smaller stature.

* More on the Hurns contract: the initial “4 yrs, $40M” report is bogus. Already under contract for 2016 at $600,000 before the deal, Hurns’ salary was bumped to $5M with a roster bonus for this season added at $4M (increasing 2016 money by $8.4M). The 4 additional years (2017-2020) actually add $31.35M in salary, making this essentially a 5-year contract adjustment/extension worth $39.75M, or a shade under $8M per year for that team’s #2 wide receiver.

Doug Baldwin
Dec 27, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns (88) catches a touchdown past New Orleans Saints defensive back Chris Owens (30) during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Jaguars 38-27. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

So, not only does the actual money in Hurns’ contract look less jarring than the original report, the most important fact is that he and Keenan Allen are anywhere from 3+ to 4 years younger than Doug Baldwin. How significant is that? Well, considering the NFLPA argues that the average length of a NFL career is less than 4 years, it means the age difference between these receivers and Doug is akin to an entire average NFL career.

In other words, they are not good player comps for fine #89.

One player that would be a true comp for Baldwin, should he sign an extension before Doug and the Seahawks come to an agreement, is Emmanuel Sanders of Denver. Not only do they have similar body types and similar styles of play, they are 18 months apart in age and Sanders will play the entire 2016 season as a 29-year-old. Baldwin turns 28 in September, just after the season begins.

Baldwin and Sanders top off their likenesses with similar stats, per espn.com. Check out the last five years of receiving production from each player:

SANDERS: 74 games, 310 catches on 507 targets (61%), 4193 yds, 24 touchdowns, 205 first downs

BALDWIN: 78 games, 274 catches on 410 targets (66%), 3826 yds, 29 touchdowns, 183 first downs

Each player signed a 3-year contract in 2014 that expires after the 2016 season (Sanders for $15M, Baldwin for $13M). Reports are that Sanders and the Broncos are in talks now to extend his stay in Denver. If he signs a deal before Doug and the Seahawks come to an agreement, expect that contract to truly provide a blueprint for Baldwin’s next deal.

Doug Baldwin
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Levi /

Today, though, with neither Sanders nor Baldwin agreeing to a third NFL contract yet, we will make an attempt to slot DB into contract parameters that fit his current standing among other players at his position- just as we did with Luke Willson a couple weeks ago.

First, everyone in Seattle needs to agree on this- while Doug Baldwin is certainly the Seahawks’ top-billing at wideout and #1 in the fans’ hearts, he is never going to be considered a “prototypical #1 wide receiver” as is used to describe players such as Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, AJ Green, and Demaryius Thomas. Men with those sorts of height/weight/speed attributes combined with proven dynamic ability in the NFL at the wide receiver position are the only ones that get $14-15M per year contract extensions.

The next tier of receiver money on a APY basis includes names such as Hilton, V Jackson, Fitz, Maclin, Cobb and now Keenan Allen. These players signed contracts with a APY of $10-13M. Hilton’s contract is inflated the last two years and has very low guaranteed money, so his $13M/yr is funny money, frankly. A couple others are long-time vets that put up big numbers year in and year out over their careers, and Cobb signed his $10M/yr extension at the ripe age of 25.

Like Emmanuel Sanders, Cobb (4 yrs, $40M, $13M guaranteed, $13M signing bonus) is built like Baldwin and used in much the same way as Doug in Green Bay. Sounds like another good comp, doesn’t it? Let’s compare their 5-year stats since they both entered the league in 2011:

COBB: 68 games, 306 catches on 436 targets (70%), 3878 yds, 31 touchdowns, 191 first downs

BALDWIN: 78 games, 274 catches on 410 targets (66%), 3826 yds, 29 touchdowns, 183 first downs

Cobb’s numbers are slightly but consistently superior to Baldwin’s across the board, understandably because Cobb is certainly a more featured weapon in his team’s offense. However, the numbers are in the same ballpark though we see another somewhat significant age advantage to Cobb (2 yrs) in this tale of the tape. Cobb’s is a deal we’ll refer to when crafting Baldwin’s hypothetical contract.

Doug Baldwin
Jan 16, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Divisional round playoff game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The final tier of receivers to review includes ones that make more than $8M but less than $10M APY and includes names like Nelson, Marshall, Antonio Brown, Crabtree and Garҫon. This is the group where Doug Baldwin, accomplished but in his late 20’s, seems to best fit in terms of average dollars per year on his next contract. He should be above Crabtree and Garҫon ($8.5M APY each) and right there with Jordy Nelson (4 yrs, $39.05M, $11.5M guaranteed, signed at age 29) and Brandon Marshall, whose contract was traded from Chicago to the Jets but is now 3 yrs, $26M, $9M guaranteed after Chicago ate the prorated $7.5M signing bonus charge. Forget Brown- he is massively underpaid and belongs in Tier 1.

So after taking his peers into consideration, it seems the best players to contractually comp Doug Baldwin to for various reasons are Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. If Doug plays out 2016 under his current salary of $4M, he will enter free agency at age 28 and possibly begin anew elsewhere at age 29 by the time the 2017 season is just a couple weeks old.

How much money could Baldwin expect to be offered on the open market under that scenario? It appears something around $8.5-9.5M APY is reasonable to guess. Of course, he’d be picking up and moving to an unfamiliar area as a newly married man. (Where is Doug building a house, incidentally? In or around Seattle, maybe? Uh huh.) He’d be learning a different offense with a quarterback not named Wilson and the back half of his contract would likely be fluff money that possibly he’d never see.

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Does that sound like a series of events an intelligent, thoughtful, calculated man like Baldwin wants to navigate? For what- maybe an extra half mil or million dollars per over the course of a couple years? Nah.

It makes too much sense for everyone involved to keep Doug in Seattle. DB89 isn’t going anywhere.

Since that’s settled, let’s break down what a deal could look like that keeps one of the cornerstones of the locker room in-house for the foreseeable future.

Certainly the team would like to have as short an extension as possible in order to keep future salary caps free of any possible future dead money. You could see them wanting to sign Doug to another 3-year deal.

Doug would probably love to see a 5-year commitment from management in exchange for his contributions. Realistically, it seems a contract 4 years in length makes the most sense here.

With Cobb at $10M/yr and Nelson just under that, I look for Baldwin to agree to a deal that is similarly fair to both player and team since he, like those great receivers, seems to appreciate the strength and stability of the professional organization for which he labors.

Doug Baldwin Surprises Fans At Local Subway
Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver Doug Baldwin poses with his favorite SUBWAY sandwich, Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki made with SUBWAY’s new premium cut, all white meat Grilled Chicken Strips on Friday, January 16, 2015, prior to the Seattle Seahawks Conference Championship. (Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Invision for SUBWAY RESTAURANTS/AP Images). /

 Doug Baldwin’s contract extension, which could be agreed to and signed before the team returns to training camp in late July, may look like this:

4 year extension (2017-2020), $35M total, $14M guaranteed, $9M signing bonus.

The contract breaks down as such: salaries beginning in 2017 of $5M (guaranteed), $5.5M, $6.5M and $9M. Salary cap hits of $6.8M in 2017, then $7.3M, $8.3M and $10.8M.

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Baldwin’s prorated signing bonus would be included in 2016’s cap number at an additional $1.8M ($9M divided by 5 years of proration). The team has roughly $4M in truly available 2016 cap space to play with, so it can easily absorb $1.8 of it here and still be free to extend others if they wanted to (Willson/Hauschka/Hill).

To date, Baldwin has earned $11,163,019 in salaries, signing bonuses and incentives in his 5-year career. If he agreed to the above contract proposal, he would make more money this year ($13M between his unaffected 2016 salary of $4M and the new $9M signing bonus) than he has in his entire football life.

Since most contracts of significant length are seen as three-year deals and then “we’ll see”, this contract would reflect a cash flow to Doug of $26M in new money over those first three years.

I’m having a hard time believing soon-to-be family man Doug Baldwin would turn down such a lucrative offer.

On the flip side, the team would be ecstatic to be able to keep this locker room leader and on-field weapon attached to Russell Wilson’s hip through the rest of this decade at an average cost of less than $9M per season.

Admittedly, the 4th year is a bit inflated and possibly too rich for the team to swallow. By that time, both player and org would have gotten what they wanted out of the other and any pay cut or early release that may possibly occur could be handled without malice.

Next: State of the Offensive Line

It is truly a win-win situation and makes too much sense not to get done this summer. Expect it to happen.