Seahawks loading up on receivers

A potential weakness left by Golden Tate’s departure is quickly turning into strength

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comMay 16, 2014 

The Seattle Seahawks’ wide receivers room is filling up.

In last week’s NFL draft, the Seahawks took two wide receivers who will be on display when the team opens rookie minicamp Friday. Speedy Paul Richardson of Colorado was the Seahawks’ first pick, chosen in the second round (45th overall). Seattle took rangy Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood in the fourth round.

Golden Tate signed with the Detroit Lions in the offseason, leaving the Seahawks with a void. Tate led them in receptions and receiving yards last season.

So, the group labeled “pedestrian” last season by ESPN analyst and Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter is being bolstered.

Restricted free agent Doug Baldwin was offered a second-round tender by the Seahawks in the offseason. He has yet to sign it.

Baldwin has two options at this point: Sign the tender that would pay him $2.187 million for the 2014 season and continue to negotiate, or hold out until he gets a better deal.

The latter seems unlikely. Baldwin has been participating in voluntary workouts with the Seahawks since they started in April.

The Seahawks also signed Sidney Rice in the offseason to a one-year deal. Rice is coming off anterior cruciate ligament surgery and should be ready to participate in camp.

The two new guys grouped with Baldwin, Rice, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette, Bryan Walters, Phil Bates, Percy Harvin and Chris Matthews produce multiple battles at wide receiver.

“It’s pretty dang stiff,” general manager John Schneider said of competition at the position.

The Seahawks have 12 wide receivers on their roster. Six wide receivers caught passes last season.

Harvin, who also has been in Seattle for voluntary workouts, is expected to carry the load this season. He was coming off hip surgery last season and played in one regular-season game. He’s the team’s highest-paid player by a wide margin.

Kearse and particularly Baldwin had large impacts in 2013. Lockette was a bit player. Bates was on the practice squad. Walters bounced between the practice squad and active roster. Matthews, a 6-foot-5, 218-pound offseason signing, was the Canadian Football League’s rookie of the year in 2012 but was hurt most of 2013.

However, they all have experience on Richardson and Norwood.

Richardson has been described by Schneider as a combination of Washington Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson, Baldwin and former Green Bay Packer Donald Driver. As the club’s top pick in the draft, he’ll stick.

Norwood will have a more difficult road. His numbers out of Alabama were muted (a career-high 38 catches last season) by the Crimson Tide’s run-first offensive focus — sound familiar? — but he was lauded for his work in the air and in the clutch. Norwood, who finished his master’s degree at Alabama, is nicknamed “Mr. Clutch.”

“He was such a reliable guy for them,” Schneider said. “Third down. Big, big games. You could watch him two or three years ago playing against the Honey Badger (LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu, now with the Arizona Cardinals), and the guy just had his hands full. I think that really stood out to me.”

Norwood — like Richardson — will have to prove himself against the league’s best secondary. Cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas talk only slightly less trash in practice to receivers than they do in games.

“There’s nothing Earl and Richard are more excited about than getting some new meat,” coach Pete Carroll said.

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @Todd_Dybas

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