In a move likely to help free up salary cap space, yet shocking nonetheless, the Seattle Seahawks terminated the contracts of stars Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor on Thursday due to failed physicals.
Chancellor is not unexpected, having last played in uniform in 2017 before a neck injury permanently sidelined his career. Baldwin also doesn’t come as a complete surprise as word he was considering retirement garnered some of the biggest talk on the Friday of last month’s NFL Draft.
The official confirmation still feels like the proverbial pile of bricks.
In this offseason alone, Baldwin had undergone surgery for his knee, his shoulder, and for a nagging sports hernia. The prognosis was he was looking at about 8 weeks of recovery time at the point when Seahawks general manager John Schneider broke the stunning news the 30-year-old wide receiver was considering retirement.
By the Seahawks terminating his contract, Baldwin doesn’t have to repay any of the signing bonus money for his last contract. In addition, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times points out he is eligible to receive $1.2 million in injury protection payout that he would’ve forfeited if he had retired. In total, both moves free up about $32.1 million in cap space for the next two seasons with $9.1 million alone in 2019.
Baldwin had success in his college career at Stanford, including leading the team in receiving yards and touchdown receptions his senior year. It came as a surprise to him when he went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Seahawks would sign him to a three-year contract.
That slight led Baldwin to play with a chip on his shoulder that fired his intensity, earning him the nickname Angry Doug Baldwin. He quickly became a fan favorite, and he would not only finish fourth in the league in rookie reception yards his first season, but became the first undrafted player to lead his team in receptions and receiving yards since the NFL merged with the AFL in 1970.
In the 2013 season, the year the Seahawks won their first Super Bowl, Baldwin gained prominent attention by calling out analyst and Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Cris Carter over criticism of the Seahawks’ receiving corps as “pedestrian” and “average”. In 2015, he would become the first Seahawks receiver in eight years to gain over 1,000 receiving yards on the season. He would lead the NFL with 14 touchdowns. He’d have a second 1,000+-yard season the following year, and he was elected to the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2017.
Baldwin would also have a huge impact off the field. He became an outspoken critic of police abuse of force and power. Not content to just speak out and protest, he became actively involved in the political discussions around police reform, testifying before Washington state congress and engaging in conversations with various police groups. He would eventually put his name and face, as well as financial support, behind a ballot initiative regarding de-escalation training and education for police officers that passed in November 2018.
In the end, Baldwin finishes his eight-season Seattle career as one of the best to suit up at his position for the team. His 493 receptions placed him third all-time on the Seahawks’ list, as does his 6,563 yards. His 49 touchdowns puts him second behind Hall-of-Famer Steve Largent.
For many, though, his fiery spirit and his sly but level, assassin-like media presence came to typify the Seahawks during the dominant period of the Legion of Boom era.