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Will anyone else compete against Drew Lock, Geno Smith?
Seaside Joe 1176: Assessing 4 other options to start at quarterback for the Seahawks
Drew Lock vs. Geno Smith is not an ideal situation for any NFL team to be in. Take the worst QB competition of 2021 — Drew Lock vs. Teddy Bridgewater — and then consider that not only has Geno been a worse quarterback than Bridgewater, but that Lock lost that battle in Denver and is now back in another fight again.
This is not the end of times, however. It’s merely Seattle’s reality and while plenty of effort will be made between now and Week 1 to get the most out of one of those quarterbacks, the Seahawks’ more important goal in 2022 is to find out how many potential stars they have at other positions. Because the Seahawks might actually have budding stars at other positions.
The quarterback’s job this year will have more to do with supporting them than it has to do with making the playoffs or winning the Super Bowl.
Will anyone else compete against Drew Lock, Geno Smith?
I’ll assess four options below, including one in-house, two former starters that are realistically going to change teams in the next three months, and the best of a bad free agent bunch.
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Eason has always had “the look” of a great quarterback.
Unfortunately, there’s a huge difference between looking like something and actually being something; in that way, Eason is like an awesome movie trailer for a bland superhero flick.
(Sidenote: One of my dream jobs as a kid was making movie trailers, but now I see that they’re entirely a product of audience manipulation. Think of the worst movie of all-time, whatever that is to you… It would be easy to edit it into a fantastic trailer just by layering a song under it that is proven to attract people audially, using quick cuts, and creating an interesting, mysterious two-minute version of a boring, exhausting two-hour movie.)
Eason was a fourth round pick out of Washington in 2020, but he didn’t make his NFL “debut” until the 2021 preseason because of the COVID pandemic wiping out the 2020 exhibition games. When he finally premiered in preseason Week 1 of 2021 against the Panthers, I don’t think Eason necessarily looked the part of an NFL quarterback.
There was some thought that Eason could even start against the Seahawks in Week 1 of last season because Carson Wentz was again dealing with injury, but that didn’t happen. He did throw five passes the following week against the Rams, completing two for 25 yards and throwing an interception. About a month later, Eason was waived and picked up by Seattle, where he’s been inactive ever since.
There’s better than a 0-percent chance that Eason will start a game for the Seahawks in 2022. That says less about Eason than it does about Seattle’s current situation at quarterback.
The Browns gain nothing by releasing Mayfield outright, and if they do it anyway, they risk having him sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers in case Kenny Pickett and/or Mitchell Trubisky can’t start for some reason.
It’s not my intention to disparage anyone who wants Baker Mayfield to happen. I just think that “Baker Mayfield is a starter, the Seahawks need a starter” is the wrong connection to attempt to make. He does not appear to be the type of starter that Seattle needs and I am fully committed to the belief that the Seahawks want to keep the door wide open for a rookie quarterback in 2023.
What do I mean by Mayfield being the wrong “type”?
Pete Carroll has already been critical of Drew Lock’s penchant for turnovers because that’s “not what we do” in Seattle. The Seahawks want to protect the football. Mayfield is a more expensive version of Lock: He threw 35 interceptions over his first 30 starts in the NFL, and 13 interceptions in 14 games last season. He has never had a good completion percentage, never had an outstanding yards per attempt average, and he had the third-highest sack rate in the league in 2021.
Seattle is looking for a quarterback, like Lock or Smith, who is only there to support the more talented players around him in the offense. Not the type of quarterback who believes he is the most-talented player on offense—it’s great when that QB actually is the most-talented player, that’s what you want, but there are no quarterbacks like that who the Seahawks could have added after trading Russell Wilson.
With hindsight, we should all be able to agree that Baker Mayfield is more of a “day two” quarterback than the guy who should’ve been drafted first overall. And if we can all agree about that, then what argument would Mayfield have for being a “better option” than Lock? It seems that Mayfield gets to keep his name thrown around as a starter solely based on the fact that he was the first overall pick…
But the same was true of Jameis Winston once. Winston led the NFL in passing yards (and attempts and interceptions) in 2019, then had to spend all of 2020 on the Saints bench, accepting the fact that the league had to admit its error of his draft evaluation. Mayfield may have to spend all of 2022 on some team’s bench and that should actually rule out the Seahawks.
What situation would best fit Mayfield? There aren’t many! It’s a unique situation brought on by the fact that the NFL has seen unprecedented movement at the quarterback position over the last few years. People keep pointing to teams like the Seahawks, Panthers as a Mayfield landing spot but I couldn’t disagree more… As strange as this may sound, I think Mayfield would be better served on a team like the Packers or Rams, where he is guaranteed to sit unless there’s an injury.
All that being said, there is a non-zero chance that two weeks into training camp, Pete Carroll will look around and realize that Seattle is on the precipice of complete disaster with Lock and Smith, leading to an acquisition at the position. There are not many “quarterback competitions” in history that I would put on par with Drew Lock vs. Geno Smith—and that is not a compliment.
I don’t know how “concerned” the 49ers would be about Garoppolo signing with a division rival, should San Francisco release him this year. But I still find Garoppolo to be a lowkey good fit for Seattle’s need of a one-year bridge quarterback, so long as he doesn’t eat into the Seahawks’ cap space for 2023.
My question for the 49ers’ situation at quarterback is this: If they do plan to part with Garoppolo, who serves as insurance for Trey Lance? The team has Nate Sudfeld and seventh round rookie Brock Purdy, and neither are adequate backups to an untested prospect given San Francisco’s situation as a team that appears to be in the middle of a championship window.
The 49ers need a backup quarterback who is neither good enough to challenge Lance to start (which means no Baker Mayfield), but not bad enough that he’d sink their postseason chances should San Francisco need him to start. There are not many available quarterbacks in the NFL today who fit that description other than Jimmy Garoppolo.
I don’t think John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan will make a decision on Garoppolo until after two things happen: a) they see Trey Lance with the 1s and b) another team suffers an injury, gets desperate, and makes a quality trade offer. Maybe Lynch is looking back at the Sam Bradford trade, when the Vikings gave up a first rounder following Teddy Bridgewater’s training camp injury, and thinks that could happen with Garoppolo.
Or maybe the 49ers are legitimately considering starting Garoppolo in Week 1.
I’m using Fitzpatrick as an example of the best available free agent quarterback on the market today. If Seattle is still scouring their options on the market, following the news that Nick Foles had signed with the Colts, Fitzpatrick is by far the best player that a team could sign today.
The next-best would be Cam Newton, Mike Glennon, and Josh Rosen, just to give you an idea of how late it is to be signing a quarterback to compete to start.
But for anyone out there who scoffs at Fitzpatrick while campaigning for Mayfield:
From 2019-2020, Fitzpatrick completed 64% of his passes with 33 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, 6.56 Y/A, 6.94 AY/A and five game-winning drives for the Miami Dolphins.
In that same period of time, Baker Mayfield completed 61% of his passes with 48 touchdowns, 29 interceptions (he started 12 more games than Fitzpatrick), 6.08 Y/A, 6.91 AY/A and three game-winning drives for the Cleveland Browns. And I would say that the Browns had a much better supporting cast than the Dolphins.
The fact that Fitzpatrick is 39 should only matter if he is a visibly worse passer today than he was two years ago (he missed virtually all of 2021) and that is yet to be proven.
Does that mean I’m endorsing Fitzpatrick? No! I’m not endorsing anybody. The Seahawks are going to have one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL next season and that is likely unavoidable no matter who they choose. That’s not “okay” but it is okay… we need to stop overrating the quarterback position, even if admitting that of course it is the most important position.
Sometimes a team’s best player on offense is the quarterback and he makes everyone around him better.
Sometimes the quarterback is the weak link (Garoppolo) and it takes a village of talent around him to mitigate the issues that have plagued him.
Do the Seahawks have such a village with Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Ken Walker, Rashaad Penny, Dee Eskridge, Noah Fant, Will Dissly, Charles Cross, etc? That’s what Pete Carroll and Shane Waldron will have to bank on, much more so than finding a star quarterback… because that’s not going to happen this year.
That’s still okay. It has to be.