Why the Seahawks Could (and Should) Still Draft a QB
Free agency opens around the NFL next week. The Seattle Seahawks have their quarterback already, announcing on Monday that they signed veteran QB Geno Smith to a three-year, $105 million contract.
So, on to the next? Well, not so fast. Extending Geno Smith was a top priority for GM John Schneider and the Seahawks. They accomplished that. Still, the Seahawks are in a spot in which they can take a quarterback in next month’s NFL Draft. Seattle picks fifth in the first round of the draft, and while Bryce Young and CJ Stroud may be off the board by then, there’s a good chance that Will Levis and Anthony Richardson will still be there.
Seattle could, and definitely should, take a quarterback at No. 5 next month.
Here’s why …
Smith was awesome in 2022—no doubt about it. Last April, Smith signed a one-year deal with a base value of $3.5 million. By the time he won the starting job in August, the betting markets projected the Seahawks to win no more than five games. Smith and the Seahawks defied those expectations and then some.
Smith completed 69.8 percent of his passes for 4,282 yards, 30 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a 100.9 passer rating.
The Seahawks won nine games and clinched a playoff berth. Smith wanted respect around the NFL after spending 10 seasons as a journeyman, which consisted of numerous backup jobs in recent years.
Well, Smith got his respect, securing the bag in Seattle in the process. Still, he’ll turn 33 this season and has entered the twilight of his career. At least by recent standards in the NFL (with the exception of unicorns like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers).
So, Seattle has to be ready for what’s next. If they plan on competing, they might not land another top-five pick for some time. So, where do they get that franchise QB from after Smith?
They get it right now.
Seattle designed an out in Smith’s contract …
Sure, the Seahawks just handed Geno Smith that bag he’s been seeking for a decade. Still, they have a way out. Similarly to how the Raiders structured Derek Carr’s extension ahead of the 2022 season, the Seahawks can move on from Smith after one season and only $28 million:
Although the initial indications were that the contract fully guaranteed $40 million at signing, the truth is (per a source with knowledge of the deal) that the number is only $27.3 million. The remaining $12.7 million becomes fully guaranteed in February 2024. And the Seahawks can cut him before then, as the Raiders did with Derek Carr last month.Pro Football Tak
If the Seahawks keep Smith beyond the 2023 season, he’ll have another $22 million guaranteed for 2024 and $25 million in 2025. Some of the money in Smith’s new contract come in the form of performance escalators in 2023 and 2024 — and the triggers are tied to his 2022 performance.
Those escalators are in the following five areas: passing yards, touchdowns, completion percentage, passer rating, and wins. For everyone that he beats, he gets an extra $2 million. If he beats his 2022 totals, he gets an extra $5 million. So he can bump his 2024 salary by up to $15 million based on what he does in 2023, and he can increase his 2025 salary by up to $15 million based on what he does in 2024.
But again, none of that might matter because the Seahawks could cut ties after this season.
Geno knows the deal …
Listen, if anyone knows how the NFL works, it’s Geno Smith. Smith was a second-round pick of the Jets in 2013. He started 29 games for the Jets between 2013 and 2014 and was an afterthought to most of the league after that point. An 11-18 record and a 57.5 completion percentage to go with 25 touchdowns to 34 interceptions was enough to lose his starting job just two years after being drafted.
Smith knows that it’s a tough business, and he knows that the Seahawks have to be thinking about his successor.
Smith said on Thursday during his introductory press conference that he will compete with and mentor whoever is in the Seattle QB room with him next season, even if it’s a rookie.
“I’d say it’s both. I love to compete, so I’ll compete with anybody,” Smith said. “I’m also gonna help them out as much as I can. Same as we did with Drew [Lock]. Our QB room is so tight-knit, and we’re all so connected that we act as one. Whether it’s a young guy or someone else, I’m gonna help that player, just like any other player on our team, be the best that he can be because that’s my job as a leader.”
Anthony Richardson seems like a perfect fit at No. 5 …
Mock drafts are all over the place right now. Everyone is feeling the Anthony Richardson buzz after his combine performance. Still, there’s a significant chance that everyone will come back down to earth in the next six weeks, and Richardson is firmly behind Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, and maybe even Will Levis.
If Richardson is there at No. 5, he’s a perfect fit for the Seahawks.
The Bears will trade back from number one. That’s a slam dunk certainty, and I don’t care what any of the ESPN hot take heads have to say about it. Then the, whoever they trade with will take a quarterback, as will the Texans at No. 2. The Cardinals are picking third, and with the albatross of a contract that they gave Kyler Murray, they’re not taking a QB. The Colts pick at No. 4, and they’ll almost certainly take a QB as well.
The Bears trade partner could shake that order up, depending on whether they trade with a team inside or outside the top five. Regardless, I see three QBs coming off the board in the first four picks. I believe that those three will be Young, Stroud, and Levis, setting up the Seahawks to take Richardson.
The kid is raw but oozing with talent and freakish athleticism. He started just 13 games at Florida, which is why he has some question marks. But I think that in the right situation,he can be a heck of a player at the NFL level.
Guess what? Seattle is one of those situations. Richardson can come in and spend at least a year working with Geno Smith and the Seahawks coaching staff before starting a game ever even becomes a question.
If Seattle likes where he’s at next February, they can cut ties with Smith. If not, they can keep Smith around for another season and continue the development process.
It’s seems like a perfect fit for both the Seahawks and Richardson.