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Thursday, May 29, 2014
Doug Baldwin's deal completes the puzzle

By Terry Blount

Angry Doug is Happy Doug now, and Seattle Seahawks fans should be happy as well.

The man who has consistently gotten the job done in the clutch, the man who played his best when the Seahawks needed him the most, is sticking around for three more years.

The final piece of the offseason puzzle for the Seahawks was secured Thursday morning when receiver Doug Baldwin agreed to a contract extension that will keep him in Seattle through the 2016 season. Baldwin's new deal will pay him a $13 million over three years, including $9 million guaranteed.

And with his signing, the Seahawks' brain trust has done what it wanted to do to secure the future after winning the Super Bowl: keep the nucleus of a championship organization while maintaining enough room in the salary cap for what's ahead.

They had to let some players go in the process, but the Seahawks also structured extensions for free safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman, and now Baldwin. They now will look toward the end of the 2014 season when quarterback Russell Wilson is eligible to renegotiate his contract, which likely will make him the highest-paid player on the team.

As was the case with Thomas and Sherman, Baldwin's deal sends a message to all the players that general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll mean what they say. If you give everything you have and get the job down, you will be rewarded.

No one on the offensive side of the ball deserves it more than Baldwin. He caught 50 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns in the regular season last year, but that hardly describes his contribution.

Success in the NFL is about making the big play at key moments, something that has become Baldwin's forte. He kept several drives alive last season with his toe-tapping sideline catches on third downs. He became Wilson's go-to guy when the game was on the line.

Baldwin, who went undrafted out of Stanford, always has taken pride in proving his critics wrong. He often says he doesn't have a chip on his shoulder, "I have a boulder on my shoulder." His I'll-show-you attitude earned him the nickname Angry Doug.

Last season with receiver Percy Harvin injured most of the year, many experts said the Seahawks couldn't win a championship without him because the receiving corps was average and pedestrian.

Those comments prompted this response from Baldwin. "Yeah, pedestrian. We're going to walk ... all the way to the Super Bowl."

And he proved it. When Harvin was out of the NFC Championship Game against San Francisco, Baldwin caught six passes for 106 yards. He also had a 69-yard kickoff return.

Baldwin had 13 receptions in the three playoff games, including five catches for 66 yards and a 10-yard touchdown reception in the 43-8 Super Bowl victory over the Denver Broncos.

When the Seahawks offered Baldwin only a one-year tender at the end of the season, Baldwin didn't complain. He understood it was a process and the Seahawks had a lot of financial moves to make before they could address his situation.

Just last week, he said he would not hold out and he still hoped to reach an agreement. On the first day of organized team activities, Baldwin was the clear standout, making three long touchdown catches in the first practice session. It probably had little to do with the contract negotiations, but it certainly didn't hurt getting the deal finalized.

Baldwin was the last stone to set in place from the building blocks of the Super Bowl team. The Seahawks had to let go some free agents they would have liked to keep, a gold rush that happens with all Super Bowl winners. But team officials have rewarded the players who paid their dues and proved their worth when others doubted them.

Now it's Angry Doug, who just got paid. Being angry might be tough, at least for a few days.