The Seahawks needed to add to the receiving group this offseason to make 2021 better. Cade Johnson might just add value for several seasons in Seattle. Johnson isn’t as big as D.K. Metcalf and not at fast as Tyler Lockett but Johnson has something that cannot be measured as easily as physical skill and that is the know-how of how to get open.
Not only that but Johnson is an excellent kick returner. Seattle has gone through a number of these players since Tyler Lockett became too important as a receiver than to risk injury while returning a kick. Travis Homer has tried the most but he is uninspiring.
D.J. Reed looked very good returning kickoffs last year in a limited time but he is likely far more valuable as a cornerback now than as a returner now. Enter Johnson.
In 2018, Johnson averaged 27 yards a return on 17 kicks. In 2017, Johnson returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and averaged 28 yards a return on 30 kicks. He is very good at his job and that could earn him a spot on the Seahawks roster in 2021 and beyond.
But where Johnson might shine long-term is in the slot as a receiver. In 2018, Johnson caught 17 touchdown passes, had 1,332 yards receiving on just 67 catches. This means he showed explosiveness by averaging 19.9 yards a reception. In 2019, Johnson had 1,222 yards receiving on 72 catches.
Johnson did play at FCS South Dakota State but when given the chance against a bigger school Johnson played well. In the season opener of 2019 against Minnesota, Johnson was not able to be covered and had 90 yards receiving on 6 catches and had 25 more yards on a run.
While Johnson is just 5’10” and 190 pounds, he doesn’t run like a small player. Johnson, like Seahawks running back Chris Carson, takes it as a personal affront to be tackled. He is quick off the line and finds the open holes in the middle of the field, doesn’t mind getting hit after he catches the ball, but if he has a chance to catch the ball and turn he is tough to bring down. Toughness is probably Johnson’s greatest strength.
Johnson has the ability to make the Seahawks in 2021 and not just make the team but make a difference between Seattle winning some games and not. He can return a kick to get Seattle in good football position and then on the next play take a pass from Russell Wilson and turn it into a 25 yard gain. Johnson is good and needs to stay on the active roster.