Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf’s absence from the team’s mandatory minicamp this week has sparked speculation that the budding superstar is on his way out of Seattle this summer. Metcalf wants a new contract. And with the way the wide receiver market exploded this offseason, there’s a chance his price tag will force him out of Seattle’s long-term plans.
The Seahawks are in Year 1 of life after Russell Wilson. It’ll be a long season, to say the least. For a player like Metcalf who has so much riding on 2022 (if he doesn’t sign a new deal before the season), catching passes from Drew Lock or Geno Smith is less than ideal. A trade demand makes sense.
Trading Metcalf would make sense for Seattle, too. He’s their most valuable trade chip who would at least garner a second-round pick in return. There’s a chance — a good one — the Seahawks could even land a first-rounder for him. Seattle has a long way to go before they’ll reach contender status again, and flipping Metcalf into early-round picks could expedite the rebuild.
Metcalf’s next contract will be in the range of $25 million (Eagles’ A.J. Brown annual salary) and $30 million (Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill annual salary) per season. It’s a hefty payday for any team, but it’s more complicated for a club like the Seattle that doesn’t have its QB-next on the roster.
“We intend for him to be with us,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at the owners meetings in March. “We’d love to figure that out. We’re in a normal kind of mode this time of the year. We’re not to that topic yet specifically because we’ve got so many other things going on. But we’d love to have him. There’s no way I could imagine playing without him.”
Unfortunately for Carroll, he may have no choice but to play without Metcalf in 2022. And if the Seahawks do decide to move on, the Chicago Bears should be the first in line for the Herculean playmaker.
Much has been made of the Bears’ need at wide receiver, and with the projected cap space general manager Ryan Poles has at his disposal in 2023, a long-term contract for Metcalf is doable, even in the inflated wide receiver market. Unlike the Seahawks, Chicago has its quarterback of the future in Justin Fields, but they’re missing the kind of surefire supporting cast to ensure his success.
Metcalf’s physical traits are obvious. At 6-4, 235 pounds, he’s one of the NFL’s biggest mismatches. He’s more than just size, too. Metcalf has elite downfield speed, making him one of the league’s top playmakers at the position.
Metcalf, 24, has amassed 216 catches for 3,170 yards and 29 touchdowns during his three seasons in the NFL. He’s topped more than 10 touchdown receptions in each of the last two years, including a career-best 12 in 2021.
The analytics support Metcalf’s standing as one of the best receivers in the game, too. He finished 2021 with the 12th-highest receiving grade (82.5) among all wideouts from Pro Football Focus. It was the second season in a row that Metcalf finished with an 82.5 mark.
Simply put, DK Metcalf is a superstar.
The price to acquire Metcalf will be steep, but it’s one the Chicago Bears should strongly consider. The expectations for the Bears in 2022 are low, and, in a way, it could help them in trade negotiations. If the Seahawks share the opinion that the Bears will be one of the 10-worst teams in the NFL this year, they might consider a second-round pick for Metcalf. If Chicago bottoms out in 2022, their second-rounder will be a top-40 selection. And if a second-round pick is all it takes to acquire a game-changing wide receiver, Poles would be foolish to say no.
The more likely scenario, however, is that Seattle will demand a first-round pick for Metcalf. That’s where things get complicated. The draft purist will balk at the idea of trading a first-round pick because of the value they have in the rebuilding process. But I’m not sure that’s the right approach. Instead, we should consider what type of player the Bears could land with their first-rounder next April. And we should assume the worst; imagine Chicago has a top-five pick. Will they be in position to draft a prospect who has a higher ceiling than Metcalf? The answer seems like an obvious no. Sure, the draft landscape is far from crystalized, but an early look at next year’s draft class doesn’t reveal any player who can come close to Metcalf’s impact (on offense).
DK Metcalf doesn’t turn 25 until December. He’s younger than Bears rookie wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. And, yes, his contract will be the richest Chicago’s ever paid for a wideout, but if the goal is to surround Fields with playmakers, Metcalf represents a mission accomplished.
The Chicago Bears have positioned themselves to strike big in free agency next offseason. They’ll have the most spending power in the league. And if a monster wide receiver is the goal, why not move it up a few months while Metcalf is ripe for the picking? I get it; if the Bears wait until free agency, they can just sign a stud without losing a draft pick. Obviously, that’s the best-case scenario. But in a league as unpredictable as the NFL, it’s better to go on the offensive than just sit back and wait.
Providing Fields with a 1-2 punch like Darnell Mooney and Metcalf is the kind of investment teams should make in their young franchise quarterback. Mooney and Metcalf complement each other well. In fact, they’d be similar to what Tyler Lockett and Metcalf offered the Seahawks in recent years. The Bears would go from having a wide receiver room littered with unknowns to one of the NFC’s top young tandems at the position. Add Jones Jr. to the mix, and Chicago’s offense would be cooking with gas.
Now, it’s on Poles to make the call. See what it will take to land DK Metcalf. And if the Chicago Bears don’t have to leverage too many future assets to acquire him, it’s an easy decision. Make the trade.
Bryan is the founder and managing editor of Bears Talk. His previous stops include Bears coverage for NBC Sports Chicago and USA Today. His NFL Draft and Bears coverage has also been featured on The Draft Network.