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I'm ready to make a final call on what Seahawks should do about Geno Smith
Geno has started 17 games for Seattle and we should know by how what the Seahawks have to do at QB next year: Seaside Joe 1383
Quarterbacks are always a hot button issue with fans. Controversy is rarely absent from discussions about a team’s starting quarterback because even if 100-percent of the fanbase supports the starter at a certain point, no quarterback has ever been more than a bad month away of turning cheers into jeers.
A two-time defending MVP winner in Green Bay is not the fan favorite to be starting for the Packers next season. And I recall plenty of times in a 20-year period when Patriots fans were ready to call Tom Brady’s career “over” not just for a bad month, but for a bad game. And even if there was always a skeptical portion of Seattle’s fanbase that wasn’t fully supportive of Russell Wilson, the tide turned much quicker against Wilson than I could have predicted.
I’m fine with the controversy. In fact, I’m here for it.
I’ve always been supportive of the NFL as an ENTERTAINMENT-BASED spectacle. That entertainment extends off of the field and into the world of not only the games themselves, but how fans react to sports, how media reports on the sport, and how athletes behave outside of the sport.
There are 17 regular season games. There are 365 days. Whatchu gon’ do with those other 348 days when the Seahawks aren’t on TV?
And quarterbacks control so much of the game of football. I mean that literally. Outside of the random end zone interception thrown by your third-string running back, the quarterback touches the ball on 99.8% of plays. That’s way more control than any other position in football.
That’s way more responsibility than any other position in team sports.
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So when a team struggles, I believe that it is more than fair to at least question how much blame should fall on the quarterback and that’s what leads to fans getting violently-wordy with one another over the value of the current starter. Having lost four of their last five games, it is no surprise that some Seattle Seahawks fans are having the debate of who should start the last three contests.
Technically, you could have an 0-17 team with a good quarterback. Perhaps Russell Wilson is a “good” quarterback on one of the worst teams in the NFL, but then nobody would say that Wilson has played like a top-25 quarterback this year.
We also know that there have been plenty of great teams that did not have great quarterbacks. The quarterback has a lot of responsibility, not all of it. Jim McMahon was 11-0 as a starter on the 1985 Chicago Bears, but backup Steve Fuller also went 4-1 that season… while throwing one touchdown against five interceptions.
Ironically, if the ‘85 Bears had a better quarterback, we probably wouldn’t call them one of the greatest teams of all-time. Nobody thinks the 2022 Seahawks are on the brink of being cited as one of the greatest teams of all-time. In some ways, that works in Geno Smith’s favor.
Is it Geno Smith’s “fault” that the Seahawks are playing so poorly? No. Because he’s not the catalyst towards success and failure in Seattle.
In another way, this also works against Geno. Because he’s not the catalyst towards Seattle’s success and failure.
Me giving my opinion today on what the Seahawks should do with Geno Smith will invite debates on how right I am, how wrong I am, or how I’m speaking “too soon” because there are still three games left and an opportunity for Seattle to make the playoffs. If the Seahawks do make the playoffs, then I agree that I am speaking a little too soon.
However, this would be like not being allowed to tell you what I think Seattle should do about Quandre Diggs or Al Woods even though most fans wouldn’t take issue with giving opinions on non-quarterbacks who are on the roster. Because non-quarterbacks do not invite controversy anywhere to the degree of quarterbacks, which is why I’m certain that most of us agree how important that position is in football. Whether a fan knows it or not.
The small chance that the Seahawks start playing their best football at the end of the season should not override the 14 games that have already happened. And Geno’s final three games should not carry more weight than the 17 starts—one full season under his belt now with Seattle—we’ve already witnessed.
An incredibly surprising, efficient, and successful 17 games.
It’s not just that if you told me that Geno Smith would complete 71% of 550 passes with 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions with a 105.7 passer rating and 300 rushing yards that I would be impressed or shocked. It’s that if you told me a decade ago that ANY Seahawks quarterback could put up those numbers that I would think he must be on a zip line to the Hall of Fame.
Geno has been good, he’s been better than anyone could have predicted, including Pete Carroll. He needs to be a starter in the NFL next season and he could absolutely help a really good team get to the Super Bowl.
I just don’t know for certain if the Seahawks are that team.
For the past eight or nine years, Seahawks fans have been lucky to avoid media-dominating debates about who should be Seattle’s starting quarterback, so I would understand if you felt that my upcoming opinion on the future of Geno Smith feels like it is coming out of left field. When a team has a top-six starter entrenched at the position, at worst you are having “call in radio” level arguments about taking a look at the backup.
I shit you not that I’ve had to talk people off of the “Josh Portis ledge” during Wilson’s tenure in Seattle.
Fans can be more than a little irrational when it comes to the quarterback position. Like I said earlier: I’m here for it. GO NUTS.
But all through the Russell Wilson era on the Seahawks, while I was also working as a freelance football writer for Rolling Stone (yes, the music magazine) or Sports On Earth (a defunct website owned by the MLB that nobody knew existed but somehow paid me much more than R.S.) or covering teams anywhere that would give me $50 per article, I have had a really strong stance on mid-level quarterbacks.
I’m not that interested.
Three years before he made it to the Vikings, Kirk Cousins led the NFL in completion percentage on the 2015 Washington Moons. His statistics in 2015 on a 9-7 team are close to Geno’s 17 starts with Seattle during an era when passing is even a little bit easier than it was seven years ago.
I do not think that a team should have ever tied its hitch to Cousins. Washington was easily bounced by the Packers in the 2015 wild card and in the next six campaigns, with no injuries to speak of, Kirk Cousins has made the postseason once: The 2019 Vikings went 10-6, beat the Saints in overtime in the wild card, then lost by 17 points to a 49ers team that is not too dissimilar to the one that has dominated Seattle in two contests this season.
The Vikings will reach the postseason this year and they have an outside shot at the number one seed. But somehow it feels like Minnesota is underachieving given the talent outside of the quarterback position.
In another case, I briefly covered the Oakland Raiders in 2020 and wrote several times that the franchise should finally part ways with Derek Carr. The take was met with some support, as you can imagine, but the majority of fans could not agree with me. “That’s my quarterback,” they say. “He’s not the problem,” they say.
From 2018-2021, Carr had a fantastic completion percentage (68.7%) and good all-around stats. Similar to Geno’s 17 games with the Seahawks.
But take the “Show Me One QB Who Has A Career 0-1 Playoff Record Through 8 Seasons And Needs A Fat Contract Challenge” and convince me that the Raiders would not have been better off to take a risk by drafting someone else in the last five years after it became clear that Carr might at least have a low ceiling.
If you think the Seahawks should give Geno Smith a three or four-year contract based on his 17 starts, then you should be just as willing to say that Seattle would be just as smart to give that contract to Cousins or Carr.
However, what I’ve found is that players like Cousins and Carr are usually only praised by fans of the teams that they’re on…and rarely by fans of their opponents. If anything, opposing fans have encouraged teams like the Vikings and Raiders to pay those quarterbacks $40+ million per season.
Fans of the Cardinals, 49ers, and Rams hope the Seahawks do the same with Geno Smith. They don’t fear Geno staying in Seattle for the next five years. If you stepped outside of yourself as a Seahawks fan, would you be more terrified of the Seahawks with Geno Smith through 2025…or Seattle scouring the next two draft classes for an elite quarterback prospect?
What could seemingly give the Seahawks better odds of being good for a long time? If the Seahawks were as good as the 49ers looked on Thursday night, then perhaps your answer would be Geno Smith because then Seattle might actually be legitimate Super Bowl contenders already.
However, given Seattle’s actual situation—bad defense, bad offensive line, a shortage of weapons, questionable coaching, and with most of the talent being rookies now or rookies next season—I think that the Seahawks being more than one or two position players away makes Geno Smith more expendable.
Not more valuable. Instead, the greatest value that Geno could bring to the Seahawks in the future is the opportunity to add more talent to the roster by potentially not having him on it. And the biggest favor that Seattle could do for Geno is to give him the opportunity to go to a team that is closer to contention and more dependent than the Seahawks are on efficient processing at the quarterback position.
Now that I’ve dragged you along through all of that setup—which I’ve curated this way because I know that I’m inviting a hot button debate and probably losing a few fans in the process, which I accept and “am here for”—this is what I think the Seattle Seahawks should do with the Geno Smith situation in 2023:
Give Geno Smith the non-exclusive franchise tag and PRAY that another team really wants him.
As I wrote earlier, Geno has proven that he’s a starter in the NFL. He deserves the same opportunities and the same respect as Kirk Cousins or Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo. He deserves the same pay, too. And for some fans/franchises, Cousins and Carr are worth it. I don’t ask that everyone agrees with me—debate!—but I do feel strongly in my position that teams don’t overpay for mid-tier quarterbacks even though mid-tier quarterbacks get to the Super Bowl all the time.
Following Cousins’ 2015 season that I referenced earlier, Washington gave him the franchise tag in 2016 and again in 2017. It’s not that Washington necessarily had a great plan—Cousins reportedly rejected a five-year offer in 2017 and then when he left, Washington confoundingly traded for Alex Smith and paid him a boatload—but intentionally or unintentionally, they were right to not extend Cousins in the same manner that the Raiders have continously hitched their wagon to Carr.
For me, that’s a simple “no thank you” proposition.
Four-year, $160 million contracts for Dak Prescott and Matthew Stafford? “No, thank you.” The long-term extensions signed by Carson Wentz and Jared Goff in 2019 that both continue to exist? “No, thank you.” An updated version of the four-year, $118 million deal for Ryan Tannehill in 2020? What do you think I’m going to say?
Geno Smith is a good choice for some franchise. He’s a risk for Seattle’s franchise that I don’t believe is worth taking at this time.
HOWEVER, if the Seahawks give Geno Smith the non-exclusive franchise tag and allow him to conversate with other organizations, there are two potential outcomes that I believe benefit Seattle more than negotiating a long-term agreement with Geno Smith (and I would not even entertain any long-term negotiations at this time):
He signs the tag, plays for the Seahawks in 2023, but Seattle doesn’t owe him anything beyond next season
He signs with another team and Seattle negotiates their second QB-trade haul in as many offseasons; saving $32 million in 2023 cap space in the process
If Geno signs the tag and stays with the Seahawks, I’m okay with that. Some will start sweating the amount of cap space he takes up and all I can do is beg you to try not over-thinking the salary cap; Seattle can work around it for one year. But if Geno signs with another team, the Seahawks get draft compensation and has less Jenga to play with their next round of contracts. In that case, I would like Seattle to re-sign Drew Lock and to draft a quarterback, similar to the Matt Flynn-Russell Wilson-Tarvaris Jackson competition of 2012.
Some will also argue that no franchise will be head over heels for Geno given his eight-year absence from the fraternity of NFL starters and I can’t be certain that you are wrong. Maybe he’s not worth a first round pick to any other team. However, I don’t need 32 general managers to believe in Geno Smith… I only need one.
The Seahawks didn’t need a dozen suitors for Wilson. They only needed the Broncos.
Think of how many desperate franchises there are destined to be next year, how many GMs on the hot seat, how many young executives who are out of their element when a veteran like John Schneider calls them to negotiate, and how many owners are willing to spend cash on a QB with a passer rating of 105.7 over 17 starts. There are a lot of football geniuses running NFL teams.
But there aren’t 32 of them!
Consider a scenario in which a team hires Shane Waldron and has an opening at quarterback. It’s not that hard of a sell: “He knows the playbook forwards and back. He’s capable. You’re not that far away!” The Panthers, the Saints, the Falcons, the Colts, and probably my favorite to take such a swing, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, if Tom Brady retires or goes to another team.
It’s not that the Seahawks could get more draft compensation in 2023, which would be hard to even fit another first round pick onto the roster, it’s that Seattle may have greater odds to having another first rounder in 2024. At that point, the timing may be even better to draft a franchise signal caller.
And if no team pushes for Geno Smith and he returns to the Seahawks next season, that’s perfectly agreeable, too. I’m fine with that. However, anything beyond a contract that is solely for 2023 could be a risk not worth taking for a quarterback who is a lot of things—capable, impressive, efficient, surprising, intelligent—but not one who will carry a team when times are tough.
Give Geno Smith the non-exclusive franchise tag in 2023. Re-sign Drew Lock. And if the right quarterback is available for taking in the draft, don’t hesitate.
These moves will invite controversy, debate, and bickering unlike anything Seahawks fans have been embroiled in since the start of the Wilson era. And I’m here for it.