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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Commentary: Without Russell Wilson, who will take over as the face of the Seahawks?

UPDATED: Sun., June 5, 2022

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf carries the ball against the Detroit Lions on Jan. 2 in Seattle.  (Spokesman-Review file wire photo)
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf carries the ball against the Detroit Lions on Jan. 2 in Seattle. (Spokesman-Review file wire photo)
By Larry Stone Seattle Times

You can already imagine the commercials that will inundate the ESPN airwaves in September in advance of the vaunted season opener at Lumen Field:

“Tune in Sept. 12 when Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos take on … “

Take on … who, exactly? What is the name that they’ll use as shorthand to embody the 2022 Seahawks?

“Tyler Lockett and the Seattle Seahawks?”

“DK Metcalf and the Seattle Seahawks?”

“Jamal Adams and the Seattle Seahawks?”

“Rashaad Penny and the Seattle Seahawks?”

“Michael Dickson and the Seattle Seahawks?”

For years, there was an embarrassment of riches when it came to designating the “Face of the Franchise” in Seattle. Obviously, Wilson has stood out for years as the marquee figure of the Seahawks and one of the most charismatic players in the NFL. It didn’t take much brain power to attach Wilson’s name first and foremost to any discussion of the Seahawks.

Before Wilson’s emergence as a superstar, you had Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman, both of whom were magnetic figures on their respective sides of the ball. Those two players were as big of names as the league had to offer when it came to star power. And the likes of Earl Thomas and Michael Bennett weren’t far behind. Even the next level of Seattle names, such as Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor, had heft.

With Wilson’s trade, the clear mantle of Face of the Seahawks stood to fall to Bobby Wagner. His stature had been growing over the years while he established himself as one of the elite linebackers in the league – not necessarily flashy but incredibly productive and a certain Hall of Famer. The Seahawks were his team unconditionally now – except that on the same day, Wagner was released.

And so here we are, three months since the shock of the Wilson/Wagner departures, and three months before the season opener, still wondering who will emerge as the “Face of the Franchise.” I realize that’s an overblown term that the media likes to bandy about as if it had some sort of cosmic significance. Yet the fact that no one definitively comes to mind speaks to the reality that this is a Seattle team in transition, awaiting the emergence of new stars.

I would venture that Metcalf is the distinct leader in the clubhouse to be the showcase Seahawk. Entering the fourth year of his career, the wide receiver is building a glittering statistical resume, though he dipped from 83 catches for 1,303 yards in 2020 to a “mere” 75-967 last season (while raising his touchdown total from 10 to 12). Beyond the numbers, though, Metcalf’s nearly superhuman athletic ability has made him a myth-like figure with unlimited potential. I have a feeling that by November, it will no longer be a question who is the preeminent Seahawk.

Of course, that’s dependent on a quarterback who gets Metcalf the ball. And as we sit here in early June, not only do we not know if their starting quarterback can do that, we don’t even know who that starter will be. If Drew Lock doesn’t win the job over Geno Smith, I daresay that’s a bad sign for the Seahawks’ grand plan. And the wild card remains Baker Mayfield and whether the Cleveland Browns will eventually cut him – no guarantee with the uncertainty over Deshaun Watson. And there’s no guarantee the Seahawks would even swoop up Mayfield even if the Browns release him. Suffice it to say the Seahawks quarterback situation is as much in limbo right now as it was stable for the last decade.

Which opens up the candidates for Face of the Franchise:

You have Lockett, who is the embodiment of steady yet remains an under-the-radar commodity nationally to everyone who doesn’t have him on their fantasy team.

You have Penny, who was as productive as any running back in the NFL over his last five games of 2021 but still invokes skepticism over whether he can stay healthy enough to sustain that production over a full season.

You have Adams, who takes over the title of highest-paid Seahawk (barely over Lockett) with the departure of Wilson. But Adams has been hard-hit by injury since coming to Seattle (missing nine of 34 games over two years) while the Seahawks struggle to mesh his talents with their defensive system.

There’s no denying Adams’ star power, however. He did set an NFL record for sacks by a defensive back with 9.5 in just 12 games two years ago. If Adams stays healthy and new defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt is more successful in how Adams is utilized, he very well could be the Seahawk who is highlighted as the season progresses.

My hunch, however, is that when the season opener is approaching this fall, the much-anticipated grudge match, this is what we’re going to hear in the ads:

“Tune in Sept. 12 when Russell Wilson and the Broncos take on Pete Carroll and the Seahawks.”

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