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DK Metcalf says he expects deal to get done with Seahawks — only question seems to be when

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) with his helmet off on the sideline playing the Arizona Cardinals during an NFL Professional Football Game Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Phoenix.  (Associated Press)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Now that the NFL draft is over and the majority of free agents are signed, the Seahawks can turn their attention to something that has been a topic of discussion for months – negotiating an extension for receiver DK Metcalf.

But by all accounts, all the talk will likely turn out to be much ado about nothing.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll said over the weekend the team expects to work something out to keep Metcalf with the Seahawks for the long haul.

“We don’t plan on him going anywhere else,” Carroll said. “We want him to be with us.”

Metcalf reiterated that thought in an interview on the “Club Shay Shay Podcast” with former NFL player Shannon Sharpe that was taped Friday.

“I will say we are going to get something done,” Metcalf said. “I think I’m going to be in Seattle for the next coming years, yes sir.”

Given that the Seahawks traded Russell Wilson in March and that the receiver position has proved especially volatile this off-season with unexpected trades and record-shattering contracts, some wondered if Seattle might be tempted to trade Metcalf.

But the NFL Network reported Tuesday that any trade talks “were not anything where the Seahawks were looking to move on from him.” In other words, teams might have called about Metcalf, but the Seahawks haven’t been making calls themselves.

Every indication is that the Seahawks view Metcalf, who turned 24 in December, as a key part of their post-Wilson future.

“We’ve been (on) a great wavelength to move forward and hopefully it will all work out,” Carroll said.

In answer to repeated questions from Sharpe about his contract extension, Metcalf did not voice any frustration, saying several times he expects it will all work out.

“At the end of the day once you sit down and make a grown-man decision, yeah, I want to be in Seattle,” Metcalf said.

It will likely take a four-year contract worth $25 million or so per year to get it done, though.

That’s exactly the contract agreed to last week by Metcalf’s college teammate, A.J. Brown, after he was traded Thursday from the Titans to the Eagles. Like Metcalf, Brown was eligible for an extension this year now that he has complete his third season. And like Metcalf, he is represented by agent Tory Dandy.

Brown’s contract included $40 million fully guaranteed at signing, including a $23.234 million signing bonus. Asked by Sharpe about the exploding receiver market, Metcalf said, “It’s all smiles right now.”

But he reiterated he expects to get a deal done with Seattle, saying “it’s just a matter of when, so I can’t stress over it. I can’t think about it too much because I’m going to drive myself crazy. Just enjoying this off-season, just enjoying life, taking it one day at a time.”

The Seahawks appear to be keeping the same, basic time frame as they have done with most of their significant extensions during the Carroll era, typically getting them done in the spring or summer after the draft, or at least after the first few waves of free agency.

“We’ll kick it into (general manager) John’s (Schneider’s) court here in the weeks to come and all, but we’re really communicating great,” Carroll said.

Getting through the first waves of free agency and the draft means Seattle has a better view of its salary cap situation for this year and the future.

For this year, the Seahawks don’t have a lot left, listed at $6.495 million in effective cap space, meaning the space a team has when factoring in all future expenses, such as signing draft picks.

That, though, will increase by $5.1 million to about $11.5 million on June 2 when Carlos Dunlap’s contract goes off the books – he was released earlier this year but with a post-June 1 designation, a device that increases the amount of cap space a team can save in releasing a player, but with that cap space not available until after June 1.

But the Seahawks don’t need much cap space this year to make an extension for Metcalf work. He is scheduled to count $4.3 million against the cap in 2022 after qualifying for a Proven Performance Escalator.

To use Brown’s contract as a guide, his deal was structured with a base salary of just $986,000 for 2022 keeping his cap hit for this year to just $5.63 million.

That deal increases to an $8.1 million cap hit in 2023 and then balloons to $27.6 million, $22.6 million and $37.6 million in 2024, 2025 and 2026.

Seattle can easily handle such a structure for Metcalf with only five players on nonrookie deals in 2024 and three in 2025, and with the trade of Wilson eliminating what would have been potentially huge cap hits down the road. As Metcalf said, the only real issue appears to be when.

Given ample opportunities by Sharpe to voice any sort of frustration with the process, Metcalf declined, saying at one point, “We’re in a good place, I’m in a good place.” And asked if he would hold out if something wasn’t done by training camp, Metcalf said, “I don’t see that happening.”

If the deal is not done by the start of camp, the most likely scenario is that Metcalf would “hold in,” as Jamal Adams did last year and Bobby Wagner in 2019, showing up and attending meetings but not taking part in on-field drills until the contract was signed.

Seattle will likely try to avoid that.

Adams did not sign his contract last year until Aug. 17, missing roughly three weeks of practice. Carroll later said he thought that hurt the team in not being able to practice some of the schemes it had planned for Adams during that time.

“I don’t like the fact that we didn’t get to implement all of the stuff we wanted to do with Jamal,” Carroll said. “It’s because we missed the offseason, and as we started the season, we just didn’t feel like if there was enough time to capture the information we needed, how much he could do, how much he could handle.”

With so much riding on this season and Seattle hoping to prove there is life after Wilson, the Seahawks can be expected to try to avoid any sort of controversies as camp begins.

And Metcalf’s actions have so far shown that he does indeed appear to be in a good place with the team.

Metcalf showed up for the beginning of the team’s offseason program April 19 even though he is not doing any on-field drills while rehabbing from foot surgery in January.

Carroll said Saturday following the draft that Metcalf is out of a walking boot but remains “in total rehab mode.”

But Carroll said he thought it was “a great statement for our guys” that Metcalf showed up despite being limited in what he can do physically.

“He wanted to show that this is his place and he has a responsibility to it and as we do also,” Carroll said. “And I thought it was a great start to the offseason.”