The other day, in celebration of Geno Smith agreeing to a 3 year $105 million dollar contract, I decided to write up an expletive filled response aimed towards those who negatively responded to the deal on Seattle airwaves and social media. It was an impulse I couldn’t resist.
Geno Smith is an extremely unique situation in professional football. The closest other situation he can be compared towards is Rich Gannon of the Oakland Raiders in the early 2000’s. Both quarterbacks toiled through the league as backups after failing as starters early in their careers, but eventually found themselves successful quality QB1s in their thirties. The biggest distinction, however, between Gannon and Smith is that Gannon sustained his success, and Smith has yet to do that.
As the details of his contract are now revealed, what he has essentially signed is a three year contract with the Seahawks full of up front guarantees and escalation clauses. Most of the guarantees are attached to year one of this contract, while the remaining guarantees roll into 2024, but the team has the ability to escape those guarantees if they cut him in February of 2024, if he is not injured. They can completely move on from him in 2025 without financial penalties.
It is also worth noting that this contract has not incentives, but rather escalators. If he betters aspects of his 2022 performance in 2023, his 2024 salary increases. If he does that again in 2024, his 2025 salary increases. In totality of the potential of meeting all of these clauses, Geno Smith can make as much as $105 million in three seasons.
This is an incredibly team friendly deal that he signed with the Seattle Seahawks. I think it is very fair to say that he probably could have found a more player friendly deal on the open market. He wanted to remain in Seattle, though, and was more than comfortable signing this deal. More specifically, he was more than comfortable betting on himself again.
Personally, I think there’s pretty strong reasons why he should feel that comfort. He did really well in year one as a full time starter in Shane Waldron’s system in 2022. There’s no reason for him to believe he won’t do anything but be better in 2023 with all of his main weapons coming back, and a chance for Seattle to further bolster the offensive line in front of him.
He has a full offseason to dig deeper into the playbook with Waldron and to work with new QB coach Greg Olson to clean up some of his issues that led to fumbles and turnover worthy throws later in the season. I would not bet against his devotion to get better in this system.
I also would not assume that this automatically means that the Seattle Seahawks are going to draft a quarterback at the top end of the draft this year. I do think it is pretty likely that they are going to draft the position this year (and next), but I am skeptical as to how much they are into a guy like, say.. Anthony Richardson.. and maybe a few other of these quarterbacks being touted highly.
Seattle is very adept at sending out smokescreens when it comes to players that they are interested in. Last year at this time, they flaunted interest in Ole Miss QB Matt Corral who had certain connections to Pete Carroll. They let Corral slide, and slide, and slide his way down the draft. In 2012, it was Kirk Cousins who was connected to Seattle, and they shockingly chose Russell Wilson over him in the third round.
Seattle might really like a quarterback in this draft, and they have him as a target, but it might not be a guy most are talking about for them right now. I’m not saying this to be a contrarian to the notion of drafting Anthony Richardson (or Will Levis). I’m just saying that this front office is really good at poker, and be prepared to potentially be surprised.
I also think a deeper meaning with this Geno deal is that Seattle isn’t interested in getting stuck with a big time quarterback contract if the player isn’t able to sustain a high level of play. I think they felt burned by the last Russell Wilson extension, and they don’t want to blindly go down that road again.
I doubt that the Seahawks are going to do to Geno what Vegas did to Derek Carr and bench him late in the season just to escape having to pay him in 2024. Sure, if Geno has regressed to the point of warranting a benching, that can easily happen, but that’s a whole other thing. If he competently has this team in games, Carroll is going to roll with him, and not risk a mutiny situation in his locker room by switching to a rookie to get him reps.
This, I think, is the real deal with Geno Smith, and the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle has chosen to bring back a player who the locker room LOVES, and Geno Smith is no dummy. He has probably looked at how this locker room has embraced him, and has studied enough tape on Will Levis and Anthony Richardson, and he knows those dudes are not likely to beat him out of this gig anytime soon. CJ Stroud and Bryce Young probably wouldn’t either.
So for Geno, this contract is nothing more than a comfortable bet on himself again, and for the Seattle Seahawks, this is a great way to bring him back into their program, to protect themselves should things go scud for whatever reason, and to give them an out if a young quarterback is ready to take over for him sooner rather than later. In a nutshell, this is what both sides agreed to, and this is a really great deal for both sides.