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If NFL doesn’t put on a halftime show, someone else will

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Regardless of the potential for rain, snow, sleet, and/or a plague of locusts, the NFL will have a halftime show at Super Bowl XLVIII.

It’ll happen for one very good reason.  If the NFL doesn’t do a halftime show, someone else will.  And it will be televised on a network other than FOX, which is next up in the three-channel Super Bowl rotation.

That’s precisely why the Super Bowl halftime became an extravaganza.  In 1992, FOX (coincidentally) televised a live edition of In Living Color.  (The entire show is on YouTube.)  And the reality of alternative programming forced the NFL to find ways to hold the audience during intermission.

As a result, the very next Super Bowl on NBC had a halftime show featuring Michael Jackson, 11 years before his sister put on a different kind of show.

So, basically, if there’s no halftime show next year, NBC could unleash a special halftime edition of Saturday Night Live, or something.

So, basically, maybe as an NBC property we should be rooting for no halftime show during Super Bowl XLVIII.

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Irsay: Luck’s deal worth $140 million over six years

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwezztvkmtjjyzq0nja0zta2odvlmdljztuwnjlmzjji AP

The Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck managed to conceal from the media Luck’s new deal until it was announced by owner Jim Irsay. They won’t be able to conceal every dollar and cent paid to Luck.

Inevitably, the contract will be filed with the NFL and the NFL Players Association, and the details will be leaked not by the Colts or Luck’s camp but by someone with routine access to all player contract.

The key factors to assess will be the signing bonus, the full guarantee at signing, and the cash flow over the first three years.

For now, the total value has been announced, also by Irsay: Six years, $140 million. That’s an average in total value of $23.3 million and a “new money” average of $24.7 million.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that $87 million is guaranteed, but it’s highly, highly, highly (did I say highly?) unlikely that $87 million is fully guaranteed at signing. At best, Luck has $87 million guaranteed for injury.

The deal is solid, but hardly the “shocking” transaction Irsay once promised. The only real surprise is that Luck didn’t get to $25 million per year in total value, which given cap growth over the past few years is where the top value for quarterback deals should be.

Luck also wasn’t able to tie his salary in the out years to cap growth (it’s unclear if his agents even tried), meaning that at some point over the next six years, if the cap keeps spiking, the deal won’t look nearly as good as it does now.

Bottom line? Luck didn’t push for every penny he could have gotten, trading six years and $140 million for the $114 million or so he could have made by going year to year under the franchise tag through 2019.

For now, the biggest question is when, as a practical matter, he’ll be a year-to-year deal with the Colts — and how much he’ll pocket before he gets to that point.

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Andrew Luck “thankful” for trust Colts have shown him

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptzlowq1nwiynwi3ntezzgu0ztyxzmjiyjfmnmi1zdy1 AP

The full financial details of the extension that quarterback Andrew Luck signed with the Colts on Wednesday haven’t come to light yet, but it appears to be as big a deal as expected.

According to multiple reports, Luck is now the highest-paid player in the entire league with Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reporting that he stands to make $75 million over the first three years of a deal that will run through the 2021 season. That’s a pretty good payday and one that left Luck feeling grateful to owner Jim Irsay and the rest of the organization for the commitment they made to him.

“I am thrilled and excited to continue with this great organization,” Luck said, via the team. “I am thankful to the Irsay family and Mr. Irsay for providing me with this great opportunity and the trust that they’ve shown in me. I can’t wait for this season to start.”

Luck and the Colts hope that this season will play out in a better way than 2015, when Luck missed nine games because of injury and the Colts missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

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Colts get Luck signed through 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 08:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws the ball during the game against the Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The first news of an Andrew Luck contract extension comes from someone who would figure to know.

Colts Owner Jim Irsay tweeted Wednesday afternoon that “Andrew has signed through 2021.”

Irsay spoke earlier this year about ideally getting an extension for the team’s franchise quarterback finished before July 4, and both sides can now celebrate accordingly.

There are no numbers attached to early reports regarding the deal, but the deal was likely to make Luck the league’s highest-paid quarterback.

Luck was limited to seven games last season by injury but in each of his first three seasons led the Colts to records of and the playoffs.

The No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, Luck has thrown 101 career touchdown passes and has twice posted seasons of more than 4,300 passing yards.

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Buddy Ryan’s philosophy: Quarterbacks must be punished

25 AUG 1994:  ARIZONA CARDINALS HEAD COACH BUDDY RYAN GIVES ORDERS FROM THE SIDELINES DURING THE CARDINALS 30-21 LOSS TO THE DENVER BRONCOS AT MILE HIGH STADIUM IN DENVER, COLORADO. Mandatory Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT Getty Images

Buddy Ryan coached in the NFL at a different time, a time when coaches who put bounties on opposing players were labeled tough guys, not banished from the NFL. A quote from Ryan’s defensive playbook encapsulates that well.

Ryan, who died on Tuesday at the age of 85, wrote in his playbook that hitting the other team’s quarterback and hitting him hard was a fundamental part of playing defense.

“A quarterback has never completed a pass when he was flat on his back,” Ryan wrote, via Chris B. Brown. “We must hit the QB hard and often. QBs are overpaid, overrated, pompous bastards and must be punished. Great pass coverage is a direct result of a great pass rush, and a great pass rush is simply a relentless desire to get to the QB. Never miss an opportunity to punish the opponent. We must dominate and intimidate the enemy. If the opponent is worried about you, he is not thinking about carrying out his offensive assignment. If you play aggressive, physical, and smart–you cannot be beaten.”

That’s not the kind of football the NFL likes to promote in 2016. But it’s the kind of football that Buddy Ryan coached in the NFL for three decades.

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Cardell Hayes’ lawyer argues Will Smith’s killing shouldn’t be tried during NFL season

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 28:   Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints dances after a big play against the New York Giants at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 28, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints defeated the Giants 49 to 24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

A trial date of September 20 has been set in New Orleans to determine the fate of Cardell Hayes, who is charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing former Saints defensive end Will Smith earlier this year.

John Fuller, one of Hayes’ lawyers, would like to see the start date for that trial changed. Fuller argued in an Orleans Parish court on Wednesday that “it’s only fair” to avoid trying his client during football season because the timing could bias a jury against Hayes.

District Judge Camille Buras denied the request, although she said she would consider a continuance for other reasons.

“I do not mind continuances when it’s based on reasons, either for complexity reasons or forensic issues that are outstanding,” Buras said, via the New Orleans Advocate. “I cannot in good conscience say I’m going to continue the case because it’s football season.”

Hayes shot Smith and Smith’s wife — he faces an attempted murder charge as well — after an argument resulted from Hayes’ car bumping theirs from behind on April 9. Hayes has argued self-defense and his attorneys have tried unsuccessfully to get video footage from bars and restaurants the Smiths visited before the shooting after toxicology reports found Smith’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

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Report: Johnny Manziel plans to go “completely sober” — Friday

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Maybe Johnny Manziel is taking seriously all the good advice people keep giving him to clean up his act.

At least he says he plans to, after this one sweet kegger he’s throwing in Mexico.

Manziel told TMZ that he’s “going completely sober starting July 1st.”

Of course, that gives him between now and Friday to get it all out of his system, and it seems like plenty of people with him aren’t taking the same pledge. TMZ has photos of a woman holding what appears to be an illicit substance, but Manziel said the drugs weren’t his and he didn’t know who the woman was.

That’s a perfect recipe for sobriety, of course. Just like giving yourself time for one last big blowout before becoming an adult.

And while he can promise to eat right, give up drinking and start “training like crazy,” Manziel’s actions have gotten us to the point where no one should put much stock in his words. The fact he was willing to taunt his father in one of his latest social media posts should tell us all we need to know.

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Jim Caldwell is skeptical of going for two more often

Jim Caldwell, Chip Kelly AP

As teams around the NFL discuss the possibility of going for two more often, Lions coach Jim Caldwell sounds unconvinced.

Caldwell said he’s aware that quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees have said they want to go for two as the default after every touchdown, but Caldwell said that’s more a matter of quarterbacks getting their competitive juices flowing than thinking about it rationally.

There’s not a quarterback in the league that doesn’t want to go for two,” Caldwell said.

Some of us think it makes sense to make going for two the default, while others think coaches should base it on the game situation. Caldwell leans closer to the latter option.

“It just depends on the situation, I think. We’re certainly prepared to go for [two points] every time. We’re certainly prepared to kick it as well,” Caldwell said. “Sometimes you’re going to have to adjust to teams that decide to go after it. I think we discussed that when the rule was first changed. You have to match [the strategy], just in terms of point differential.”

Caldwell’s skepticism may stem from his own team’s lack of success: The Lions are 1-for-6 on two-point conversions in Caldwell’s two seasons as head coach.

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Troy Vincent: NFL is still trying to help “out of control” Johnny Manziel

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 2:  Troy Vincent, executive vice president of football operations for the National Football League, testifies before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill on December 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. The committee was holding a hearing on addressing domestic violence in professional sports. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images) Getty Images

Many continue to pay attention to the life and times of Johnny Manziel in order to determine whether the story ends with Manziel turning things around — or whether it concludes with a much worse outcome.

Even though Manziel currently isn’t (and likely never again will be) employed by an NFL team, the NFL wants to help him. NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent recently addressed the issue in an appearance on 610 Sports’ The Rob Maaddi Show in Philadelphia.

“It’s what you go to bed every night thinking how do you assist someone that’s really not interested or quite frankly doesn’t want to meet you halfway,” Vincent said. “You can have all the resources and they’re endless, confidential resources in your hometown, the individual club where the players or family members live. They’re there. They’re available. But if an individual is not willing to meet you halfway to get assistance, it’s very difficult because it’s something you can’t make an individual do anything.

“In this particular case, it’s obvious it’s gotten out of control,” Vincent said. “You see his parents. When a father speaks out about losing his son potentially to substance abuse, you know there’s a problem. Johnny’s not returning phone calls. He’s in different states. You kind of see him, you get notice of where he is off social media and that’s a challenge, but we won’t stop. We’ll continue to keep reaching out, letting Johnny know we love him, we care for him and we’re here when he’s willing and wants and is able to accept assistance, we’ll be there for him.”

Vincent said that he has been personally involved in reaching out to Manziel, along with the Browns “from ownership on down, General Manager, head coach, their player engagement director, everyone.”

“Again, we won’t stop,” Vincent said. “We’re just hoping that moment happens where Johnny is willing to accept some assistance and get the help that he really needs to just function as an individual. Forget football. But to really get his life turned around so that he can function as a good citizen and a good young man.”

Setting aside the Manziel angle, the fact that Vincent appeared on Rob Maaddi’s radio show should come as a major surprise to anyone who remembers the nuances of the Ray Rice case. It was Maaddi who reported, on behalf of the Associated Press, that someone in the league office had received the in-elevator video before TMZ published it, sparking a full-blown investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller and, for at least a few days, creating the impression that Commissioner Roger Goodell’s tenure was in danger.

The league, needless to say, wasn’t happy with Maaddi’s report, which ultimately was not corroborated by Mueller’s investigation. The fact that Vincent nevertheless appeared on Maaddi’s show gives hope that the rest of us who have said and done far less antagonistic things will get some of these key employees to appear our own radio shows again, at some point.

The connection also invites reasonable speculation as to how long the two have been acquainted (Vincent provided an endorsement last year to a book Maaddi had written), and whether and to what extent they communicated before Maaddi dropped a bombshell that nearly brought down the league office.

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Longtime defensive lineman Cory Redding retires

Cory Redding AP

Cory Redding, a defensive lineman who has played in the NFL since 2003, announced his retirement today.

The 35-year-old Redding, who was released by the Cardinals in April, wrote on Twitter that he is “leaving the game I’ve played for 23 years.”

Redding played 12 games for the Cardinals last season. His most memorable moment was an interception against the Lions that the 318-pound Redding returned 30 yards.

A third-round draft pick of the Lions in 2003, Redding played in Detroit through 2008. He then played one year in Seattle, two in Baltimore and three in Indianapolis before finishing his career last year in Arizona.

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Justin Hunter: There’s another level I have to reach

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Justin Hunter #15 of the Tennessee Titans completes a catch in front of Johnathan Joseph #24 of the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on November 1, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Earlier this week, we shared Titans wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham’s feeling that he had a good offseason after coach Mike Mularkey pushed the team’s receiving group to step up their games.

Green-Beckham isn’t the only holdover with room to do more. There’s also 2013 second-round pick Justin Hunter, who ended last season on injured reserve with a fractured ankle. Hunter had 22 catches for 264 yards and a touchdown in nine games before getting hurt, which marked a third straight year that saw his production fail to meet the potential that led the Titans to draft him in the first place.

That’s left Hunter facing a challenge from Mularkey “to step up and be more aggressive” because the coach believes Hunter has the talent to succeed. It’s a challenge that Hunter says he’s ready to accept.

“There’s another level,” Hunter said, via the team’s website. “I am definitely going to have to bring it in training camp. There’s a lot of competition, a lot of people fighting for positions and things like that. You can’t slack off because another guy is coming for your spot. I have to keep grinding.”

The Titans closed their offseason work with rookie Tajae Sharpe on the top line of the depth chart with Kendall Wright and Rishard Matthews. Assuming those three and Green-Beckham are healthy, Hunter may need to beat out Harry Douglas for a spot on the roster and another opportunity to show that talent translates to numbers on the field.

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Jake Plummer slams “billionaire a–hole” Jerry Jones over weed policy

Quarterback Jake Plummer of the Denver Broncos during the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the New England Patriots at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado on January 14, 2005. The Broncos beat the Patriots 27-13 to advance to the AFC Championship. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/NFLPhotoLibrary) Getty Images

A number of former and a few current players have been able to eloquently state their cases for research into the use of medicinal marijuana as a pain-killing alternative for players.

And then, there’s Jake Plummer, who is willing to be a little salty when it comes to the collection of NFL owners who have yet to embrace the possibilities their plant of preference offers.

“I have a hard time with it because everybody says, ‘Oh, poor NFL millionaires. Oh, you poor people.’ They don’t understand,” Plummer told BSN Denver. “Maybe they should have a little more to say about the owners that are billionaires, they’re not millionaires; they’re billionaires.”

“Like Jerry Jones, who says it’s ‘absurd’ that there would be a link between brain trauma, football and CTE. Shame on him for saying that, that billionaire a–hole. It’s the worst thing in the world for a guy like that to say. That’s where we’re sitting; grown-ass men are asked to go out there for millions of dollars — which, yeah, it’s a lot of money — bang themselves around and completely f— their lives over for their 40s and 50s. So yeah, poor football players is what I say. If you’re a grown-ass man, you should be allowed to make grown-ass decisions.”

That’s a perfectly reasonable — if slightly coarse — description of the basic struggle between labor and management on this issue.

The former Cardinals and Broncos quarterback has dealt with hip problems and the usual aches and pains since leaving the game after a 10-year career. And he’s willing to admit embracing marijuana in all its forms might be an effective pain-relief plan, as part of a larger point about individual rights.

“They should be able to say, ‘I’m going to have some CBD and puff on this fatty, relax after a football game and take the pain away,’” he says of players in general. “Not get tested for it like [suspended Browns wide receiver] Josh Gordon, who now can’t play the game that he’s been playing since he was a kid because he smokes marijuana. It didn’t derail him or cause him to underachieve from what I witnessed. He dominated the league for two straight years, and now he’s out of the league because he chose an alternative form of medicine.”

Of course, not every player who uses marijuana or wants to is considering the full range of therapeutic benefits. Some of them want to just get high before they head to the airport for preseason games, and the NFL’s hesitance to throw out all regulation is also understandable, given the establishment’s usual openness to change.

But while some are fighting the fight with science and research, Plummer’s willing to say all the bad words to draw attention to his cause, which he thinks can save football and its players.

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NFLPA demands “credible evidence” of PED violation by Harrison, Matthews, Peppers, Neal

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 08:  James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks onto the field before the start of the game against the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field on November 8, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The dance continues between the NFL and the NFL Players Association regarding the Al Jazeera PED allegations, and at this point it’s becoming a mosh pit.

The NFL Players Association has sent a letter to the NFL on behalf of Steelers linebacker James Harrison, in which the union reiterates its request “that the NFL inform him and the NFLPA whether the NFL possesses any credible evidence (e.g., verified documents or verified testimony of witnesses) that warrants an interview of Mr. Harrison regarding a potential violation” of the PED policy.

Although the letter doesn’t expressly take the position that Harrison has no obligation to cooperate until the NFL disciplines him based on “credible evidence” of a violation, the message is clear: Harrison apparently won’t be doing anything unless and until the NFL produces “credible evidence” beyond the remarks contained in the Al Jazeera report.

“Especially in a business where the mere mention of a player-employee’s name can generate ratings for a broadcaster, the NFLPA and Mr. Harrison do not believe that unsupported, unsubstantiated verbal remarks provide ‘sufficient credible evidence’ to initiate an investigation of, and require an interview with, an employee.”

The letter, a copy of which PFT has obtained, mentions only Harrison. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the same letter was sent on behalf of all other active players implicated by the Al Jazeera report: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Mike Neal.

The PED policy seems to contemplate that the player accused of a PED violation won’t be required to provide information until discipline is imposed based on “credible documented evidence” that the rules were broken. The NFLPA apparently is willing to entertain the possibility of a pre-discipline interview if — and only if — the NFL puts the same cards on the table that would be placed on the table if discipline is imposed and the appeal process commences.

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Report: No significant improvement in Jaylon Smith’s injured nerve

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Linebacker Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish walks off the field after an injury during the first quarter of the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Buckeyes defeated the Fighting Irish 44-28.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cowboys were able to get linebacker Jaylon Smith in the second round of the draft because fears about lingering nerve damage resulting from the knee injury he suffered in the Fiesta Bowl.

Teams wondered if the issue would keep him from playing in 2016 and if it would limit his effectiveness beyond this year, but Smith’s surgery was done by the Cowboys’ team doctor and his confidence in Smith’s future carried over to the team.

Smith said there was “absolutely” a chance that he’d be on the field this season because “the nerve can come back tomorrow.” Smith’s knee surgery was done by the Cowboys doctor and owner Jerry Jones said he shares Smith’s hope that the knee will improve sooner rather than later.

As of now, though, it doesn’t look like there’s much positive movement. Ed Werder of ESPN reports that there’s been no “significant improvement” in the injured nerve at this point and, as a result, it remains unlikely that Smith will be on the field in 2016.

If that’s the case, the big question in Dallas will shift to whether or not Smith can return to being the kind of player that was projected to be a high first-round pick throughout his career at Notre Dame.

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Are Seahawks overpaying Doug Baldwin?

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 13: Wide receiver Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks scores a third quarter touchdown past cornerback Jimmy Smith #22 of the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

To the extent that Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin plays better when he’s angry, he needs a reason to be angry. My goal isn’t to give him one, but that could be the result of the words I’m about to type.

Did the Seahawks give Baldwin too much money in his new contract?

The most important numbers — signing bonus, full guarantee at signing, cash flow over the next three years — still aren’t known. But the big-picture numbers suggest top-10 money for a guy who, while above average and for a stretch of last season flat-out dominant, may not be a top-10 option.

It’s easy to call a guy “top 10” in the abstract. When actually listing the players, however, the 10 seats fill up, quickly.

In no particular order, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham, Allen Robinson, Brandon Marshall, and Jarvis Landry would make up the top nine receivers in the league. So who would be the 10th?

Amari Cooper? Alshon Jeffery? Jordy Nelson? Jeremy Maclin? Keenan Allen? Brandin Cooks? Larry Fitzgerald? Emmanuel Sanders? Demaryius Thomas? T.Y. Hilton? Mike Evans? Sammy Watkins? Baldwin?

Apart from where Baldwin fits in the league-wide receiver pecking order is the question of how the investment in a receiver (along with the $9 million per year devoted to tight end Jimmy Graham) meshes with the team’s supposed commitment to the running game. Of course, the $21 million per year paid to quarterback Russell Wilson already doesn’t mesh with a cloud-of-dust-or-at-least-those-little-rubber-pellets approach to offense.

Still, with the passing game now consisting of three highly-paid players, the tailback depth chart currently a smattering of minimum-contract guys, and the offensive line a perpetual work in progress, it’s getting harder and harder to reconcile the team’s desired attack to the picture painted by the money.

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Doug Baldwin recalls humbling start to career after signing extension

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 27:  Wide receiver Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field on December 27, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 23-17.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tuesday’s announcement that the Seahawks and wide receiver Doug Baldwin have agreed to a four-year contract extension didn’t come as much of a surprise given how often both sides talked this offseason about wanting to get a deal done.

Telling someone in 2011 that Baldwin would one day ink a deal with $24 million in guaranteed money and a total value of $46 million would have come as more of a surprise. That’s when Baldwin went undrafted after completing his career at Stanford, something that Baldwin reminisced about in a Facebook post after signing his contract.

“It was 2011,” Baldwin wrote. “I was sitting by myself at a small Mexican restaurant across the street from the Stanford campus. The draft had just ended and my name wasn’t called. I sat in my chair unable to move as if my heart had just been ripped out of my chest. I’ve been playing football since I was 7 years old and, in that moment, it seemed like it was all coming to an end. I humbled myself and waited out the lockout for one last shot at my dream. Then … Seattle called and they wanted me. That was almost 5 years ago. This is now. I’m thankful and blessed to formally announce my 4 year extension with the Seattle Seahawks.”

Baldwin’s production hit a new level in the second half of last season as the Seahawks passing offense took off, but he’d been an efficient and reliable target for Russell Wilson throughout his time with the team. Those traits matter more than how he entered the league or the fact that he doesn’t have the ideal size teams look for at receiver and explain why he has a shiny new contract that will keep him in a prime role on the Seahawks offense for the next few years.

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