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Geno Smith takes Seahawks discount: 5 reasons they chose to stay together
What we got right (and what we got wrong) about the Geno contract terms: Seaside Joe 1464
The Seattle Seahawks definitely got exactly what they wanted with the Geno Smith contract. As more details continue to trickle in (and trust me, this is as “trickle” as trickle could be as the leaks seem to intentionally be hiding something for some reason by using weird language to explain the value) it’s becoming evident that Geno is entering a prove-it year and the Seahawks will have the opportunity to draft a first round quarterback next month.
On Monday, it was reported that the Seahawks signed Geno to a three-year, $105 million contract in total value, which is really close to the three-year, $107 million contract that Seaside Joe projected for that length of deal a month ago. Jordan Schultz also uses intentionally-confusing language to add “can earn $52 million in the first calendar year” which is not how anybody talks about contracts.
That immediately sends up the red flag: Ah, Jordan Schultz must think that a “calendar year” is 365 days instead of what a calendar year actually is for most people: January 1-December 31. Source: Wikipedia. Unless Schultz believes that Geno signed a contract that will for some reason stop paying him while the NFL season is still ongoing.
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So Schultz means to say that the contract will pay Geno Smith $52 million from March 6, 2023 to March 5, 2024, which tells you that because that puts him into the 2024 league year, the Seahawks have a roster bonus or some other form of incentives and compensation that could pay Geno $52 million…if he gets that far.
Interesting because way back on January 20, essentially six weeks before the contract was announced, I tried to convince people not to worry about years or total money or total guarantees when the contract was announced: A Geno Smith contract proposal that actually makes sense. I argued that what we really need to pay attention to is the OPTIONS on the deal, similar to how Derek Carr signed a three-year, $120 million extension in 2022. A contract that he never actually reached.
This is a contract proposal that I think most other Seahawks writers/fans are overlooking that satisfies both parties and is based on recent contract history that makes complete sense for Geno.
Geno is in a different place than Carr, but I believe there is a chance here for the Seahawks to borrow some of the framework to satisfy Geno and Geno fans: a contract that will appear very large, that will be billed as $35-$40m annually, but that will actually be a “prove it” deal laden with incentives and important option dates that need to be exercised in order for Geno to make all of the money on it.
I think Geno can get more than the $25 million guaranteed at signing than what Carr received, but not the $60 million+ that Matthew Stafford received from the Rams on his own $40m/year contract extension. How about $40 million guaranteed at signing on a deal that carries only a $20-$25 million cap hit in 2023, spreading out the rest of the guarantees over several years. If Geno proves invaluable or just good enough, he will be paid for two more seasons. The Seahawks will even be able to draft a QB if they want to without frustrating Geno, I think, because he will still get paid.
The nice thing about a newsletter is that if anyone ever accuses me of editing past work to make myself look better, you can always go back and check the e-mail! I can’t edit those!
So let’s again frame that article from over six weeks ago: $35-$40m average annual salary, $40 million guaranteed at signing, Geno must play well in first year to reach bonuses/incentives, Seattle can still draft a QB. Hmmm…
On Tuesday, Mike Garafolo reported more details:
Geno has a $35 million annual average salary (check), $40 million guaranteed at signing (check), options and incentives are what matters (check), and the only thing we don’t know yet is his 2023, 2024, and 2025 cap hits. That will depend on when those options are and what Geno’s base salaries per year turn out to be, but it seems like Garafolo is saying that Geno will earn a total of $75 million in base salary over those the next three seasons. I don’t think that he means that Geno will earn $25/$25/$25 but it’s hard to say.
As I mentioned, weird language being used in the Geno Smith contract reports so far.
So I’m pretty happy with how the Geno Smith contract proposals on January 20 and February 13 turned out for Seaside Joe. Enough of what I got right though, let’s be fair about what I got wrong or with what I could have done better. I know many of my counterparts would never admit fault, but how can you trust somebody if they keep changing their own narrative?
I think people are more trustworthy when they’re open about their misses, not when they keep telling you, “I’m trustworthy!”
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I was right about the Seahawks not using the franchise tag on Geno, which looked like a complete non-starter once anyone cared to do the math. But I was wrong about agent Chafie Fields insisting that he would take his client onto the market to try and drive up the price. I was wrong about Geno refusing a contract like the one he has ultimately now signed prior to free agency.
What I would take from that is that Chafie probably did know what his client could get on the free agent market. They say that this is the “non-tampering period” and that you can’t talk to teams about players who are signed with other teams until March 13, but behind closed doors people know that it happens anyway. If there were four or five teams interested in signing Geno, they would have let it be known, “Hey, you’re gonna be out there in a couple weeks right, nudge nudge?” and Geno would have become a free agent.
My sense is that the Seahawks were Geno’s number one suitor and that if there even is a number two, they have certain roadblocks (like Tampa’s cap situation) or they’re just as motivated as Seattle to draft a QB (Carolina, Atlanta, Washington, Indy, Las Vegas) or they’re going to get Aaron Rodgers (Jets).
I did write back on January 31 that Geno Smith might actually not have a massive market and that it would indeed be an advantage for the Seahawks in their attempts to re-sign him on a friendly deal.
But in the future, I need to be more aware of the fact that agents do have a sense of the market before free agency and that if the two sides are motivated to make a deal then often that’s what will happen. I was open about the fact that not only did I think Geno was Seattle’s best choice for 2023 and that I expected him to come back on a deal just like this, but I was WRONG about the two sides playing hardball and when a contract would get done.
Truly, I was starting to lean towards the side of “Geno isn’t coming back” and that’s why I kept pounding home that a Franchise Tag+Top-5 pick was impossible. I also said that a multi-year deal+top-5 pick would cost the Seahawks about $50 million in cap space in 2024 if they go that route and until we know the full terms, maybe that’s true. I had kind of lost hope on a contract that allowed Seattle to walk away after a year because I assumed that Geno and Chafie wouldn’t sign that contract prior to free agency.
Whew, I was wrong.
Thanks for sticking with Seaside Joe even when I get something wrong. Thanks for also allowing me to link back to the times that I got something right.
Now that we know that they’re sticking together for at least another year and we have a better sense of the contract terms, there are some key reasons why this contract happened that I want to go over with you. Seaside Joe needs 275 more FREE subscribers to hit the 2,000 mark and we’re trying to get there by the draft, so consider adding your email below if you haven’t already OR share us with Seahawks FANS (shout out “Seaside Joe” on other forums!) whenever you get the chance.
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Seahawks have QB continuity advantage
What did we keep saying over and over by the second half of the season last year? Practically every new starting QB who changed teams was struggling, but the one new starter having success was in his fourth season with the same team: Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson, Marcus Mariota, Mitchell Trubisky, Carson Wentz, Baker Mayfield all had a rough go. Five of those players were benched and the other two (Russ, Watson) played bad enough to deserve to be benched.
Geno and Pete were in their fourth season together. Geno played in 3.5 games the year before. Geno knew the receivers and the OC.
Sometimes that first year in a new system goes great: Drew Brees in 2006, Peyton Manning in 2012, Tom Brady in 2020, Matthew Stafford in 2021. Sometimes continuity doesn’t help: Aaron Rodgers last year. But I wouldn’t underestimate the amount of work that happens when a team acquires a new starting quarterback and asks him to lead in year one.
Pete has had three first-year starting Seahawks QBs: Tarvaris Jackson in 2011, Russell Wilson in 2012, Geno Smith in 2022. (Matt Hasselbeck, I’ll consider a veteran Seahawks starter even though 2010 was his first year with Pete.) Jackson was in his sixth NFL season. Russ is a unique rookie. Geno was in his 10th season and in his fourth with Pete.
Russ took a step forward in his second year as starter and the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. Pete and Geno are both looking for him to take that next step now that he’s coming off the longest and most important campaign of his career and hoping that he’s learned what mistakes to avoid and how to use his advantages (like a top-flight passing arm) to keep getting better.
Geno has his best shot to improve on 2022 season
I wrote on January 9 that Geno should “take a discount” to stay with the Seahawks because no other team would give him as good of a chance to be as good or better than he was last season. Not once in Tom Brady’s career did he carry a cap hit larger than $25 million (the Bucs will actually pay a $35m cap hit for Brady in 2023, after he retired) and where does he stand today? He’s the most valuable human in NFL history.
Nothing compares in value to 10 Super Bowl appearances and 7 championships.
Let’s pretend that Geno could have hit the market, waited for the Jets to lose out on Aaron Rodgers or something, and gotten a three-year, $120 million deal with a little more guaranteed. Is that worth uprooting his life to go take a chance with a new head coach, new offensive coordinator, new receivers, trusting a new offensive line, with a locker room full of new faces? Geno is betting on himself and if I’ve learned anything about gambling it’s…
Well, to not gamble.
But if I’ve learned anything else it’s ONLY WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL AND HAVE AS MUCH CONTROL AS POSSIBLE. Geno’s bet on himself has the most likelihood for success in Seattle, so he didn’t test the market.
No state income tax
This actually can’t be understated. If Geno Smith makes $30 million in a year, for example, he could literally be losing millions by playing in New York or California instead of in Washington.
Doesn’t have to move—then move again
Geno Smith isn’t a fly-by-night stopover in Seattle. He moved to Seattle in 2019, he’s invested a lot of his life into one place and he hasn’t had anything close to that since 2013-2016 with the Jets. This experience is much better than that experience.
He’s obviously also done so much work to gain trust with the Seahawks’ players and coaches that it would be hard to walk away from that and start all over again. To go do that again with the Raiders, Titans, Moons—is it worth it? Because if that fails, he’s back to being that guy who went from the Jets to the Giants to the Chargers to the Seahawks in a span of four years.
Now if Geno plays really well in 2023, he stands a chance at not just being an NFL football player, which he already is. He’ll become a Seahawk. Many players want to belong and have a place that’ll always be their team, even knowing that they’re going to have to move around the league at some point. This gives Geno a chance to be a Seahawk-for-life, whereas a one-stop season as starter would have been quite fleeting in the long run.
Seahawks can draft a QB
THESE contract terms DO allow the Seahawks to consider all their options in the draft, including drafting a quarterback at five and actually letting him sit for one or two years. I think I did get to the point of saying, “I can’t see that happening” and once again, I’m wrong.
If the Seahawks feel like they love Anthony Richardson, there wouldn’t be a better place for Anthony Richardson. Pete is NOT the type of coach to flippantly turn the team over to a rookie waiting in the wings when times get tough—honestly, he could have been that guy with Drew Lock late in the year and I don’t doubt some coaches would’ve tried that—and Geno sure seems set to start the entire 2023 season.
That’s not what the Bears had in Andy Dalton when they picked Justin Fields, a quarterback who I believe is worse off for having started as a rookie. That’s not what the Steelers had in Mitchell Trubisky last year.
The chance that the Packers will turn the team over to Jordan Love next season has given me all these positive feelings about “how things used to be” when QBs were guaranteed to sit for at least a year before becoming starters. Even Carson Palmer sat behind Jon Kitna for a year. Then a lot changed in 2008 with Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco.
If Seattle believes that Richardson or another QB prospect will put in the work behind the scenes to improve, then it’s a golden opportunity to give it a chance because this contract is more team-friendly than I was beginning to suspect it would be. I kind of cringe at the idea of praising Pete and John because I feel like that can be construed as being too complimentary of management simply because of a bias, but it’s hard not to do it again this time:
From the Russell Wilson trade on March 8, 2022 to the Geno Smith team-friendly contract on March 6, 2023, the Seahawks have nearly been batting 1.000 and the only thing missing in the last “CALENDAR YEAR” is playoff wins. With this contract, the Seahawks and Geno Smith are both betting that will change in the near future.