Now that he has “made it,” now that he has his mega payday, will “Angry Doug Baldwin” soften? Will he play without his renowned edge?
“Not at all,” the Seahawks’ notoriously fiery and record-setting wide receiver said this month, during talks that led to the four-year contract extension through the 2020 season that he signed with Seattle on Tuesday.
It’s reportedly worth $11.5 million per year.
“When I look back on it and I try to figure out what truly motivates me, it’s my love for the game. That’s what it comes down to,” he said on June 9. “I’ve been playing this game since I was 6 years old. I’ve never known a summer off, not playing football. Even at times when it gets grueling, when you get out here on this field and smell the grass and feel the air, there’s nothing like it.
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“There’s no other experience I want to experience in life. I’m just thankful and blessed for the opportunity I get to come out here every day, so I’m not going to take that for granted. That edge will never go away, until they force me to hang up my cleats.”
The Seahawks did the opposite of that.
ESPN’s Adam Caplan reported the deal is worth $46 million, with $24.25 million guaranteed.
Those numbers make the 27-year-old Baldwin, who went undrafted coming out of Stanford, the league’s seventh-highest-paid wide receiver in average value per year and average guaranteed money per year ($6,062,500).
That’s how solidly the Seahawks reaffirmed Baldwin’s place as a franchise cornerstone. General manager John Schneider began working in earnest in early May to finalize this deal. It was Schneider’s final to-do item before training camp begins July 30.
The extension is believed to be tacked on after the upcoming final season of a three-year deal Baldwin signed before the 2014 season. That deal will pay him $4 million in base pay in 2016, with a salary cap number of $6.325 million.
That’s an average raise of a cool $7.5 million per year in this new contract.
“It is a big deal,” coach Pete Carroll said, even before there was one. “He's done an incredible job for us and been a great, great teammate.”
The Seahawks keep ensuring that their under-30 core stays intact. Baldwin joins quarterback Russell Wilson, safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman, linebacker Bobby Wagner, linebacker K.J. Wright, defensive end Cliff Avril, wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, defensive back Jeremy Lane and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin as Seahawks signed through at least 2018.
The recent extension Keenan Allen signed with San Diego proved to be the benchmark contract for Baldwin. Allen, who has played in two fewer seasons than Baldwin, has 59 fewer regular-season receptions and 13 fewer touchdown catches in his career than Baldwin has in his five seasons. Allen re-signed with San Diego this offseason for an average of $11.25 million per season, with $5.16 million per year guaranteed.
Baldwin set the Seahawks’ franchise record with 14 touchdown catches in the 2015 regular season, tied for most in the NFL. He joined the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2011, the second season of Carroll’s and Schneider’s regime with Seattle.
Now Baldwin is entrenched in the newest phase of his career, one that began with him scrapping on special teams as a rookie.
“Before I became a leader, I thought success was all about building myself up. But then once I became a leader, I realized that success is about building others up,” Baldwin said. “That’s where I’m at right now. I’m focused on helping the other guys as much as I can, giving them the tools they need to be successful — just like Sidney Rice did for me when I first came in.”
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle