If Drew Lock is good
Seaside Joe 1229: A surprising contract estimate and a new plan for 2023
I can honestly say that I’ve never been approached by a man who said, “My name is Drew Lock and I’m from the year 2024. Let me tell you my story.” So how could I be in position to tell you that Drew Lock won’t surprise people this season?
Rather than rehash the obstacles that Lock must overcome in order to make the Seahawks feel comfortable that he is the quarterback of the future, let’s skip that part and be open to the fact that it is possible.
Lock and Kirk Cousins have comparable track records over their first three professional seasons. In his fourth season, Cousins entered his second year with Sean McVay as his offensive coordinator and he was a better version of what Jared Goff would turn out to be in a similar offense with McVay’s Rams. The fact that Shane Waldron is Seattle’s offensive coordinator now seems more coincidental than consequential, but perhaps it is possible for Lock to become the team’s starter and to efficiently run the offense like a top-15 quarterback for the near future.
Back in April, I wrote about how either Lock or Geno Smith could actually be a top-20 quarterback this season without having to set the world on fire.
The bar to be top-20 is not that high, so long as you are starting. It’s the bar to be top-six that is so far out of reach for most NFL quarterbacks and I still can’t get on board with Drew Lock ever getting there. However, maybe there is a 5 or 7.5-percent chance that Lock could carve out a career like Cousins and while that is still not ideal, it could be enough to convince Pete Carroll to focus on other important needs in 2023.
What could happen if Drew Lock is good?
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High-end estimate: 5-years, $170 million ($90 million guarantees)
I know this seems crazy. If it doesn’t seem crazy to you…it should! If Drew Lock signing a $170 million contract doesn’t seem crazy to you at first glance, you’ve either already thought of what I’m about to tell you or you never think about NFL contracts at all.
But if Lock wins the starting job and is good through two months of the season, there would be some precedent for a team paying him a middle-of-the-market contract (that seems a lot bigger than it actually is) as soon as they feel confident that they’re going to attempt to re-sign him before he hits free agency anyway.
Yes, a five-year, $170 million contract would be totally in line with Lock’s value if he ends up playing as well as Cousins or Ryan Tannehill.
First of all, you have to consider that all Lock would really be signing is a three-year, $90 million contract. The extra two years and $80 million would be to spread out Lock’s signing bonus over two additional years, in order to bring down his cap hit from 2023-2025. Seattle could also do this with void years (essentially just two additional years on the contract even though Lock would be a free agent after three) but with quarterbacks there is more incentive to have those seasons under contract in case he’s really good.
Here is Dak Prescott’s four-year, $160 million contract for an example:
Prescott’s four-year contract has two void years, with the Cowboys having to pay him $21.8 million in 2025 even if he’s not on the team anymore. Prescott has relatively-low cap hits in the first two years of the contract, then an average of $51.5 million over the last two years.
If Lock is good, the Seahawks may choose to commit three years and $90 million to him, which is pretty much the same salary Tannehill got after his 10-start audition with Tennessee in 2019; and what Jimmy Garoppolo got after his five-start audition with the 49ers in 2017.
People would see, “DREW LOCK GOT $170 MILLION?!” but that’s actually kind of a low-ball if he has an audition as good as Garoppolo or Tannehill five and three years ago, respectively.
High-end record: 10-7
If Lock is good, then Seattle has a reasonable chance to reach the NFC playoffs. Justin Herbert has yet to make the postseason and Herbert was a top-five quarterback last season with a very good supporting cast. The AFC has more competition, but Lock won’t provide as much value as Herbert, even in the most ideal scenario.
The Seahawks could also face a difficult schedule this year with the AFC West, NFC West, and Tom Brady conspiring to prove that Drew Lock can’t be good.
See reason to disagree and think a good Lock can lead Seattle to something even greater?
2023 NFL Draft
New plan: Build around Drew Lock
The expectation is that the Seahawks will be one of the many teams fighting over 2023’s crop of quarterbacks in the draft, a prediction that I believe was partly verified by the fact that Kenny Pickett was the only one taken in the top-85 picks this year. A good season by Lock would not even preclude Seattle from drafting a quarterback in the first three rounds—I bet that John Schneider feels an obligation to come away from next year’s class with at least one prospect at the position because so many of them are intriguing and he has something to prove—but maybe now the Seahawks could use their first two picks on other needs.
As noted here several times recently on issues of needing prospects on defense and what are Seattle’s non-QB priorities next year, the franchise is in dire need of a couple great draft classes. The team is nearly out of players who remain from the 2012 to 2019 classes, other than their two star receivers, and even in the case of Tyler Lockett it would be smart to have a replacement plan in place if Dee Eskridge doesn’t improve.
If Lock is good enough to secure the quarterback position, then Seattle must not have been bad enough to get a top-10 pick. Maybe the Broncos even finish with a worse record than the Seahawks, but it would take a major collapse for Denver’s pick to be in the top-five.
In any case, John and Pete would have two first round picks to address needs on the interior of the offensive line, pass rusher, cornerback, receiver, linebacker, and nose tackle. And two second round picks to continue to do that.
The Seahawks may choose to use their first four picks on non-QB positions even if they don’t trust in Lock or Geno Smith. If Lock is good enough to give Seattle confidence in the position, the offensive supporting cast could be better than it ever was for Russell Wilson. The defense could be heavily addressed in the draft.
2023 seahawks draft will be best edge rusher available, Best WR available, best DL/NT/LB available, and best center available.
With their 3rd round pick they take Grayson McCall..
I quit dreaming after that and cant tell you how the rest turns out...
yeah, yeah, true; but this was a good article to keep short. Speculation on the Seahawks future of Cousins-like QB play and years of mediocrity is boring. The contract suggested is manageable, but not as nice as a rookie deal. To win it all in the next few years they need max cap space for veteran FA contracts as well as hitting on draft picks. Lock would have to prove a lot in the first couple months to get that commitment and I don't think just good should be good enough.