Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett will assume his role as one of quarterback Russell Wilson's favorite targets in 2020, but choosing to play amid the coronavirus pandemic wasn't an easy decision for him.
Lockett told reporters on a conference call Friday that he "definitely had a lot of hesitation" about playing in 2020.
Lockett noted that a heart abnormality that results in his aorta being on his right played a role in his tentativeness:
"So just with everything that happened in COVID, that was one of my biggest issues was just trying to make sure [this heart condition] wasn't gonna affect me if I was able to go out there and play. Obviously, nobody really knows. You've got doctors who kind of give you what you need to know up front, what they think and what their biggest opinion is of it, but I think I had my chance to opt out, and I said that if I come up here, I'm gonna just play.
"I know that we've got Pete [Carroll], we've got a lot of older coaches. They don't want to put themselves in a situation to get sick neither, so I told myself if they could do it then I know I could do it. And if I'm going to come out here and play, then I'm just going to do what needs to be done. I'm not going to stress about COVID. I did that from February to before we came into camp."
The 27-year-old Lockett is set to enter his sixth NFL season, and he is coming off a career year, as he finished 2019 with 82 receptions for 1,057 yards and eight touchdowns.
Aside from his heart condition, Lockett divulged that his cousin, who has asthma, contracted COVID-19 earlier this year. That also played a role in him considering the possibility of opting out.
Several players across the NFL have opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns related to COVID-19, including Seahawks guard Chance Warmack.
Lockett has made huge strides as a pass-catcher over the past two years, making him a key member of the Seattle offense. After averaging 46 receptions for 605 yards and three touchdowns over his first three NFL seasons, Lockett averaged 70 grabs for 1,011 yards and nine touchdowns the past two seasons.
The 2015 third-round pick out of Kansas State has developed into Seattle's No. 1 receiver, although it may now be a 1A and 1B situation due to the emergence of D.K. Metcalf.
After getting selected by Seattle in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft, Metcalf made a major impact as a rookie and finished with 58 receptions for 900 yards and seven touchdowns.
With the 5'10" Lockett and 6'4" Metcalf to throw to, Wilson has a receiver duo with contrasting styles capable of giving opposing defensive backs fits.
The Seahawks have reached the playoffs in each of the past two seasons and seven of the past eight, but they haven't advanced past the NFC divisional round since 2014.
With a potent offense led by Lockett, Metcalf and Wilson, however, the Seahawks figure to be a major threat in the NFC in 2020.