SEATTLE — Editor's note: This story is part of KING 5's Seahawks season preview series
The dawn before a new football season is refreshing.
No armchair quarterbacks wringing their hands at head coaches' decisions or fans berating officials for back-breaking calls. That'll happen in less than four weeks.
There's typically optimism, even when it's not justified, and chatter around what it will take for a team to reach its ceiling. Training camp battles are followed closely, with every highlight reel play spliced on Twitter or, conversely, every mistake magnified.
KING 5 SEASON PREVIEW: All of our stories breaking down the 2022 Seahawks
This is a fun time of year for football fans. So, with that said, this is perhaps the best time to look at the five most important storylines facing the Seattle Seahawks this season.
How will fans react to Russell Wilson's return?
The most important storylines of the upcoming season center around a player who no longer plays for the Seahawks. Go figure.
Seattle will host Wilson in Week 1 on Monday Night Football, giving the raucous home fans an opportunity to cheer (or jeer?) its former franchise centerpiece for the past decade.
KING 5 SEASON PREVIEW: Four observations from Seahawks' preseason Week 1 loss to Steelers
Wilson guided the Seahawks to its first and only Super Bowl championship and was a pillar of the community until he was traded to Denver in March. (Wilson denies demanding a trade from the only National Football League (NFL) team he's ever known, but he did confirm a "trade list" of teams he'd be open to playing for was real.)
KING 5 SEASON PREVIEW: What are our favorite Russell Wilson era memories?
It will certainly be interesting to see the gamut of fan responses to Wilson's much-anticipated return.
How will the team do without Russ?
Aside from the fan reaction, the Seahawks are in murky territory post-Wilson trade.
Losing a quarterback of Wilson's stature naturally puts the team in a state of flux.
KING 5 SEASON PREVIEW: Long-term QB options for the Seahawks
Expectations have cratered towards the bottom, which is a bitter pill to swallow for a team that was in contention for a Super Bowl every season Wilson was the signal caller.
KING 5 SEASON PREVIEW: Meet the Seahawks rookies that could make an impact in 2022
Another fortunate break (like taking Wilson in the third round of the NFL Draft), or selecting a young quarterback with a top pick, appears to be the only pathway for Seattle to rejoin the NFL's elite anytime soon.
Unless Geno Smith or Drew Lock suddenly prove themselves to be elite quarterbacks.
Geno Smith or Drew Lock?
Wilson's vacancy opens up a legitimate quarterback battle in Seattle.
In one corner we have a 31-year-old veteran who flamed out in his first NFL stint and is now on his fourth team in nine seasons.
In the other corner, we have a 25-year-old that was jettisoned from his first NFL team because he was not productive enough to lead Denver to any real success.
KING 5 SEASON PREVIEW: Geno Smith or Drew Lock?
Yikes. Geno Smith vs. Drew Lock isn't exactly Godzilla vs. King Kong levels of exciting, but the winner of the battle will define the team's goals for the 2022 season.
Do the Seahawks play it safe with the veteran incumbent or give Lock a chance to capitalize on his physical ability?
DK Metcalf's big contract
His three-year extension was worth $72 million, but he's guaranteed $58.2 million, according to ESPN.
Metcalf joined the other upper echelon wide receivers with his new contract. His average yearly salary is $24 million, compared favorably to AJ Brown ($25 million), Cooper Kupp ($26 million), Davante Adams ($28 million) and Tyreek Hill ($30 million).
KING 5 SEASON PREVIEW: Will a third receiver step up to help DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett?
Now that he's earned his money, the focus turns to his production on the field.
In his third season, Metcalf reverted to his rookie levels in yards per game and yards per target.
The All-Pro receiver had just one game with over 100 receiving yards in the 2021 season. He exceeded that threshold five times in 2020. Tyler Lockett, meanwhile, was more consistent despite Wilson missing extended time during the season.
His quarterback situation figures to be worse in 2022, as we discussed earlier. Neither quarterback has reached 3,500 passing yards in a season, a mark Wilson accomplished in seven consecutive seasons.
Is Metcalf dependent on an elite quarterback lofting perfect deep passes down the sidelines or can he still produce elite production with lesser talent?
2022 will give us a better representation of Metcalf's ability.
What's Pete Carroll's future?
As he enters his 13th season leading the Seahawks, it's worth asking if Pete Carroll is close to calling it a career.
The 70-year-old is the oldest active NFL coach. He's already accomplished major milestones in Seattle, ushering in easily the franchise's most successful period.
KING 5 SEASON PREVIEW: Can the Seahawks win with a run-heavy game plan?
There really aren't any coaching accolades he has left to check off if he wanted to ride off into the sunset.
Does he really want to stick around much longer for what could be a lengthy rebuild effort?
KING 5 SEASON PREVIEW: Who will win the RB battle?