RENTON, Wash. – The way Tyler Lockett sees it, every season from this point forward is one he didn’t expect to have, anyway.
Lockett revealed this week that when he entered the NFL in 2015 as a third-round Seahawks draft pick out of Kansas State, he set a goal to play eight years.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It just sounded like a good year. It was like when my financial lady asked me, ‘When do you want to retire?’ I said, ‘30.’ ”
But last September arrived, and Lockett turned 30 during his eighth season.
“It was like, ‘All right, you’re 30,’ ” he said. “I was like, ‘Ah, I’ll just keep on playing.’ ”
Not that the Seahawks weren’t counting on it, having signed Lockett in spring 2021 to a four-year contract extension worth up to $69 million that runs through the 2025 season, when Lockett will be 33.
That contract, though, is structured in a way that it is best viewed as a year-to-year deal. There is no more guaranteed money, and it comes with increasing cap hits and potential cap savings in 2024 and 2025.
In his age 31 season, though – his birthday was Sept. 28 – Lockett showed in Sunday’s 24-20 win over the Cleveland Browns that he is the same player he’s always been. He led the Seahawks with eight catches for 81 yards and a touchdown against a Browns team that has allowed the fewest passing yards in the NFL.
That’s despite barely practicing the past three weeks due to a nagging hamstring injury – he practiced just one day before the Cleveland game and was listed as questionable.
That came after he had not practiced the preceding week before a win over Arizona, in which he had four receptions for 38 yards.
Lockett’s ability to not need much practice and still be at his best – he caught passes on three of the first seven plays of the game – is a source of amazement for fellow receiver DK Metcalf.
“Tyler’s the best athlete I’ve ever seen on the planet,” Metcalf said this week. “He never does anything during the offseason or before practice or anything and just comes out – he may give you 100 yards, two touchdowns, may give you 300 yards, a touchdown, or may just make a DB fall on the ground and make him look silly.
“ ‘Lock’ is a special player because of his ability to just go out there and just run routes or just play football to the best of his ability and at a high level. Just watching him the past five years has been great, because I’ve got to learn a lot from him. But I know that’s one thing that I cannot do, is just not practice and just go out there and make people look silly, but that’s his special gift Lock has.”
Lockett put up a mild protest about not practicing much the past few weeks.
“Mentally, even though I’m not practicing, I’m still practicing,” he said. “In my head, I’m still working on all of the things that I need to do that I think I need to learn before we get ready to play. It’s not like I’m sitting on my butt and I’m not doing anything the entire time. I’m doing something. It’s just not at a point where I can get put as full participant (on the injury report) or whatever the case is.”
Whatever Lockett does during the week, it’s always worked on game day.
Lockett has missed just three regular-season games in his career, and with every week further states his case as the best receiver in team history after Steve Largent, whose numbers may never be threatened.
Lockett needs just 14 receptions to pass Brian Blades for second on Seattle’s all-time list with 582 (Largent is first with 819), and 151 yards to also pass Blades into second in receiving yards with 7,621 (Largent 13,089). Lockett is second in receiving touchdowns with 57 (Largent has 100), but is steadily making his way up the total touchdowns list. He has 61, which is fifth, but with six more this year would move into third behind only the 112 of Shaun Alexander and the 101 of Largent.
That’s along with ranking in the top five of every punt-return and kickoff-return category, both things he doesn’t do much of anymore.
Lockett appeared to make it through the Cleveland game just fine and, after sitting out Wednesday, practiced some Thursday and Friday. He was not listed on the game status report for Sunday’s game at Baltimore, apparently the healthiest he has been since the bye week entering the Cincinnati game.
Not that it seems to matter much.
“Regardless if he practices or not, he’s always in tune with the game plan, we’re always talking through things,” quarterback Geno Smith said.
“And when we get in the game, we’re always on the same page.”
Although Lockett once envisioned himself not playing at age 31, he now says he has no specific end in sight.
“I know they talk about, ‘Oh, this is a young man’s game, blah blah blah, people will try to get you out of there.’ I just felt like, I’m going to go out there, keep trying to be me, keep trying to play at a high level, try to be there for my teammates, continue to create those relationships,” Lockett said. “At one point, the game is going to end for me, and it’s a matter of when it’s going to end, but I don’t want it to end too short to where I’m like, ‘Man, I could’ve kept playing.’
“I can’t go back and play again, so I might as well just try to see how far I can take it, how far I want to keep on playing and then let whatever happens, happens.”