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Efficiency a major reason why the Seahawks decided to pay Doug Baldwin

Before 2015, Doug Baldwin had never reached the 1,000-yard mark in a season or scored more than five touchdowns.

But on Tuesday, the fiery Seattle Seahawks wide receiver signed a four-year, $46 million contract extension with $24 million guaranteed.

There are several reasons why the team decided to pay up instead of having Baldwin play out the final year of his previous contract. Number one, they believe in him as a core member of their program. Baldwin joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2011, earned a larger role, worked at his craft and had a career season in 2015. Those are the types of players that good organizations reward and hold on to.

In terms of Baldwin's contributions to the offense, clearly John Schneider and Pete Carroll feel like 2015 was the start of a trend, not an aberration. The Seahawks had the most efficient offense in the NFL last season, according to Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings, and the passing game was second. Russell Wilson led the league in passer rating, and in the second half of the season, the offense averaged 31.25 points per game (second).

Wilson is 27 years old, and the Seahawks are counting on what they saw in the second half of last year to carry over into 2016 and beyond. That means the expectation is for Baldwin to build on a performance that included 78 catches, 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns. Given his efficiency, more opportunities should lead to more production.

Football Outsiders recently released its receiving plus-minus rankings. Here is the definition:

Receiving plus-minus examines how many catches a receiver caught compared to what an average receiver would have caught, given the location of those targets. It does not consider targets listed as "Thrown Away," "Tipped at Line," or "Quarterback Hit in Motion." Player performance is compared to a historical baseline of how often a pass is completed based on the pass distance, the distance required for a first down, and whether it is on the left, middle, or right side of the field. Note that plus-minus is not scaled to a player's target total.

Baldwin ranked third in this metric, behind only Antonio Brown and Larry Fitzgerald. A.J. Green and Julio Jones completed the top five.

Wilson and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell also deserve a tip of the cap here. Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett ranked 11th and 12th, respectively, in receiver plus-minus. The numbers speak to the efficiency of the Seahawks' passing game in 2015.

Another area where Baldwin stacked up favorably was YAC+. This is defined as "how much YAC (yards after catch} a receiver gained compared to what we would have expected from an average receiver catching passes of similar length in similar down-and-distance situations."

Baldwin ranked tied for ninth in YAC+. According to Football Outsiders, he was the only wide receiver in the NFL to rank in the top 10 in both receiver plus-minus and YAC+.

The bottom line is that Baldwin has put in the work to get better, and the numbers suggest he did more with his opportunities than most of his peers last season. He will likely never be among the league leaders in targets, but when Wilson goes to Baldwin, he knows that the wide receiver is going to produce.

Efficiency and dependability are two of the main reasons why the Seahawks felt comfortable paying up to keep Baldwin in Seattle through 2020.