RENTON — DK Metcalf was a spectator because of his ongoing contract extension talks, but it allowed him a pretty good view of the biggest question facing the Seattle Seahawks on the first day of training camp.
Metcalf watched as Geno Smith took the first round of snaps with Seattle’s No. 1 offense on the opening day of camp on Wednesday. Smith getting the nod on the first day was expected and Seattle coach Pete Carroll again proclaimed Smith as the leader in the competition with Drew Lock as the replacement for Russell Wilson.
But the quarterback competition will be a long, drawn out battle expected to last throughout the preseason. The more urgent matter for Seattle is the situation with Metcalf and how long the current contract stalemate may last.
When Seattle broke from minicamp in June — a mandatory event that Metcalf skipped — there seemed to be optimism a deal would be reached. And while Metcalf reported to camp to avoid being fined, there is still no agreement in place that would keep Metcalf in Seattle beyond this season.
“We were hoping so. We were hoping, so we shot for it,” Carroll said of having a deal already in place before the start of camp. “We’re right there now, and there’s a lot of work being done like right now.”
Metcalf and San Francisco’s Deebo Samuel are the last of a class of wide receivers in line for new contracts in an offseason filled with deals for pass catchers.
Metcalf is entering the final year of his rookie contract, which will pay him about $3.99 million for the upcoming season. He would seem to be in line for an extension in the ballpark of what A.J. Brown, Cooper Kupp and other wide receivers have received this offseason.
Carroll noted that Metcalf is fully recovered from offseason foot surgery, so his absence from practice is not health related. Seattle is well adept at dealing with players seeking new deals showing up but not practicing until the contract situation is settled, having gone through this in recent years with the likes of Bobby Wagner, Jamal Adams and Duane Brown.
While Metcalf’s status remains in limbo, the quarterback situation remains equally unsettled and is likely to stay that way well into August. Carroll didn’t entertain the notion of placing a deadline on when a decision needs to be made, highlighting the importance of the preseason games in making a final decision between Smith and Lock.
It’s the first time Seattle’s faced a quarterback decision in training camp since Wilson’s rookie season of 2012 when he beat out Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson for the job.
For Carroll, the situation feels a bit like college again.
“You guys forget that I coached in college for quite a while and guys graduated all the time. Heisman Trophy winners graduated and we went to the next guy,” Carroll said. “And you always miss when the guys leave. But you can see it and so you start planning for it, you work and you can find success. … I’m taking it in stride, but I’m really determined to make it work.”
Carroll elaborated briefly on the decision to release running back Chris Carson on Tuesday with a failed physical designation, saying the determination was made about a month ago and Carson had time to process the decision. Carroll said Carson is still struggling with having full range of motion in his neck following surgery last year.
“I think he’s doing really well. I mean, it hasn’t really hit him yet. We kind of had conversations about it. But I don’t think it hit him as far as it hit us,” teammate Rashaad Penny said. “It was kind of like, ‘wow, it happened.’”
Carson was a seventh-round pick of the Seahawks in 2017 that quickly developed into one of Carroll’s favorite players. Carson’s reckless, punishing running style was notably similar to former Seattle star Marshawn Lynch and yielded great success while also taking a physical toll.
Carson played more than 12 games only twice in his five seasons. Carson’s best season was 2019 when he rushed for 1,230 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games.
“I loved the way Chris Carson played. I loved his style, his aggressiveness, his creativity, his all-around athleticism,” Carroll said. “I loved him on our team and it breaks my heart to not have him again.”