Coming into the 2013 season Doug Baldwin was something of forgotten man. The third year receiver out of Stanford looked to be stuck as the fourth man on the depth chart due to the acquisition of Percy Harvin and expectations were not high. After all, Baldwin was coming off a season where he only put up 366 yards in 14 games. It appeared that Russell Wilson preferred Sidney Rice and Golden Tate to Baldwin and with Harvin coming to town it looked like Baldwin would be muscled out for targets. There was even some speculation that Baldwin would be traded. What people seem to be forgetting was that Baldwin was only one year removed from a stellar rookie season in 2011. Players often have years where they struggle for a variety of reasons no matter their skill level, but Baldwin’s 2013 is showing his weak 2012 to be an aberration. In fact, his 2013 is looking mighty similar to his 2011:
Now the comparison here is a little bit on the unfair side because Baldwin actually has two more games to play this season. It’s pretty safe to assume that he will set career highs in every category this season.
It’s hard to say whether Doug Baldwin is breaking out or merely reestablishing himself but he has been both excellent and very fun to watch in 2013. While he runs most of his routes and does most of his best work out of the slot he has also been handy on the outside as well. What has really stood out for me has been his ability to make the tough catches at the sideline with some regularity. That kind of athleticism helps account for Baldwin’s rare ability to combine the quickness of a traditional slot receiver with the long speed of an outside receiver.
In a season where the Seahawks have been without their presumed #1 receiver all year long and down their leading wide out from last year someone had to step up. Although it’s easy to see Golden Tate as that player, Doug Baldwin has made the biggest gains from 2012 to 2013 and has really established himself as a quality wide receiver in this league. Now there is no way his rookie season could be considered remotely fluky and with the likely departure of Rice Baldwin looks to retain a major role in this offense in 2014 even if Percy Harvin is healthy. While trade rumors surrounding Baldwin may have been false he may now be playing pricing himself out of town when he hits free agency in 2014. Whenever a player does that it’s a good thing though. It means that they have produced, and Doug Baldwin is producing in what could wind up being the most important season in franchise history.