Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf finally could laugh about it. A $30 million signing bonus does that to a man.
Metcalf sat in a news conference Friday after signing a three-year contract extension worth up to $72 million. He had let the Seahawks know he would leave the only franchise he had known at the end of the season if he didn’t get a new deal. In the meantime, he took the same negotiating tack Bears linebacker Roquan Smith did when he reported to training camp last week.
Metcalf was a ‘‘hold-in,’’ reporting to camp so the team wouldn’t fine him but refusing to practice until Seahawks general manager John Schneider gave him a new contract.
On Friday, contract in hand, he said he never was going anywhere.
‘‘I was going to be here,’’ Metcalf said. ‘‘As much as I bluffed to John, I wasn’t leaving, just to let you all know. I wanted to be here. I wanted to play here. And I’m glad that we got something done.’’
In the NFL, players are holdouts — or, in this case, ‘‘hold-ins’’ — until the second they’re not.
Metcalf isn’t anymore. Neither is receiver Deebo Samuel, another ‘‘hold-in,’’ who signed a three-year extension Monday worth $73.5 million to remain with the 49ers.
‘‘Holding in’’ works. Smith has yet to play a second of practice, but he had a good week nonetheless. Metcalf and Samuel made sure of it.
It stands to figure that Smith will get close to what he wants — eventually. Until then, however, his absence hurts the momentum of a team in need of some positive buzz after a first week of camp that featured center Lucas Patrick breaking his thumb, offensive tackle Teven Jenkins disappearing and quarterback Justin Fields struggling.
None of that is motivation enough, apparently. On Monday, Smith did what he has done during every practice in camp: stand and watch. Afterward, coach Matt Eberflus was asked whether there was any momentum between Smith and general manager Ryan Poles toward a contract extension.
‘‘I’m not in the middle of that, so I really can’t say there’s progress [or] not progress,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s Ryan and him working together, so I don’t really have an update [on] my part.
‘‘I just feel that he’s being a professional. He’s in the meetings, and he’s doing a good job with helping the younger players.’’
Not that Smith’s situation mimics those of the aforementioned receivers. They are playing with new starting quarterbacks this season and need every snap they can get with them.
Poles, meanwhile, knows he can’t let himself get trampled in issuing his first major contract extension. If first-year GMs give any quarter early on, they’ll be perceived as weak by agents and peers. Poles certainly doesn’t want a player bragging about bluffing him in a news conference.
Both sides are being polite publicly, but each day Smith doesn’t practice — particularly once the Bears put on pads Tuesday — is a missed opportunity for a regime that wants to emphasize accountability in everything it does.
Eberflus and his staff scour the practice film every day looking for ‘‘loafs’’ — players who jog instead of sprint during a drill, for example. How long can they tolerate a player not being there at all?
Smith, whom the Bears put on the physically unable-to-perform list without detailing why, has less than six weeks before the regular-season opener against Samuel and the 49ers. That’s plenty of time to get ready. But as talented as Smith is, he’s playing a new position — weak-side linebacker — in a 4-3 defense. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams recently explained how different Smith’s sight line will be. Think side balcony after four years of orchestra center.
It’s not hard to see what Smith wants. The Colts’ Shaquille Leonard, who starred under Eberflus, signed a five-year, $98.5 million deal a year ago. A month before that, the 49ers’ Fred Warner got $95.2 million over five years. Smith could point to inflation and say he deserves more — every contract is created to be topped, after all — but he’s not as decorated as either player, and his team isn’t as primed to win as the 49ers and Colts were.
Metcalf and Samuel knew what they wanted, too. They targeted contracts handed out to two other second-day draft picks in 2019: the Eagles’ A.J. Brown and the Commanders’ Terry McLaurin. All four wound up getting between $53 million and $58 million guaranteed, with Brown getting four years and Metcalf, Samuel and McLaurin three. Figuring out the financials was only truly complicated in the case of Samuel, a part-time running back who got bonuses for rushing yards.
‘‘Basically all 4 of us got the same contract,’’ Brown tweeted Monday.
Maybe one day, Smith can tweet that about Leonard and Warner.
Until then, however, the ‘‘hold-in’’ continues. And the clock ticks.