This has been the offseason of seismic trades blockbuster deals, unlike anything the league has ever seen. Elite playmakers on both sides of the ball have gotten traded, mostly to the AFC and its western division especially.
The Seattle Seahawks have been amongst the most active teams on the trade market and are rumored to be open to trading their young playmaking wide receiver, D.K. Metcalf. While he made it clear that he loves his team’s receiving core as currently constructed, Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback, Lamar Jackson, isn’t opposed to adding more talent to it. He fed the speculation fodder when he took to Twitter to express as much.
Metcalf has been one of the most dynamic young wideouts in the league during his first three years in the league. He recorded 900 or more receiving yards and seven or more touchdowns in each season, including double-digit touchdown seasons the past two years.
His rare blend of size, speed, and athleticism make him the prototypical “X” receiver that offenses look for in a true No. 1 threat. The Ravens were linked to Metcalf in several mocks leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft. In his first year at the helm, Ravens’ General Manager Eric DeCosta decided to make Marquise “Hollywood” Brown the first wide receiver off the board with the No. 25 overall pick. Meanwhile, Metcalf fell to the bottom of the second round where the Seahawks selected him at No. 64 overall.
Three negatives that many evaluators had on his scouting report coming out of Ole Miss were his inability to stay healthy, limited flexibility, and limited route running ability — which might make him a one-trick pony to serve primarily as a deep threat. While he may never have a doctorate in route running like Davante Adams or Keenan Allen, Metcalf has proved that he can run a more diverse route tree at every level and has shown refinement getting in and out of breaks. Most importantly, he hasn’t missed a single game in his career to date, including the playoffs, and has started 48 of a possible 49 games.
Acquiring Metcalf via trade won’t cost the king’s ransom that Adams and Tyreek Hill commanded, but will still be costly nonetheless. There is also the looming big payday he is due next offseason barring getting franchise tagged. He will be playing in the final year of his rookie contract in 2022 and the wide receiver market is exploding at a similar rate to that of the quarterback.
Kicking the can down the road will only delay the inevitable hefty price tag Metcalf will garner. I highly doubt that the Ravens are willing to part with multiple draft picks for a one-year rental. They have several less proven — but still very talented players — at the position on cost-controlled contracts beyond for two or more years. Metcalf is slated to make just $3.9 million in 2022 with a minuscule cap hit relative to his talent and expected production of $4.3 million per spotrac.com. He will be a free agent in 2023.
Since Brown was a first-round pick, if the Ravens decide to pick up his fifth-year option, he’d only make $13.4 million in 2023. Brown has yet to earn a Pro Bowl bid but has made playing time criterion. Rashod Bateman was a first-round pick last year and can be under contract through 2025 if his fifth-year option gets exercised.
James Proche and Pro Bowl returner Devin Duvernay have two more years apiece on their rookie deals and have been underutilized on offense to date. Tylan Wallace was a fourth-round pick last year, is under contract through 2024, and is itching to get more targets his way and should with Sammy Watkins out of the picture.
It makes sense for Jackson to be open to the idea of adding a pass-catcher of Metcalf’s caliber and proven pedigree. However, it is very unlikely at this time. That could change, though, if key injuries at the position occur during the first half of the 2022 season prior to the midseason trade deadline — knock on wood.