Yesterday I wrote a piece discussing the possibility of John Schneider and Pete Carroll having different ideas for the off-season. I speculated that might be one of the reasons why there’s been a bit of internet chatter about Carroll’s desire to carry on coaching beyond this season.
Today I’m going to discuss the other side of the argument.
An article by Brady Henderson was brought to my attention. It discussed the future of Geno Smith and had some interesting elements that are worth breaking down:
The Seahawks, meanwhile, no doubt want to re-sign their Pro Bowl quarterback, but they have an offensive system they believe to be QB-friendly. They also believe there are potentially viable alternatives on more affordable contracts should Smith’s asking price get too high for their liking.
This isn’t framed as an opinion. The article states what the team believes. This is sourced. This is from the Seahawks’ top brass. They think their scheme is quarterback friendly and they think they can find a cost-effective replacement for Smith if he doesn’t re-sign.
This isn’t insignificant.
Now, it could all be part of negotiating through the media. The Seahawks have dabbled in that over the years. It could be a dig in the ribs for Smith’s agency.
I’d go as far to say that’s pretty likely what this is. The Seahawks grabbing at some leverage, playing the game a little bit.
You can’t blame them. What else can they do? They can’t come out and talk about underwhelming performances and too many turnovers or near turnovers in the second half of the season. That would be a negotiation killer.
All they can do is set up the impression — whether it’s true or not — that they have a bunch of alternative options. Smith’s representatives will likely make a similar case on alternative suitors as both teams talk contract before free agency begins.
By suggesting the scheme is QB-friendly, they also subtly introduce the thought that Smith has succeeded as a 32-year-old not necessarily because of a career renaissance but because he has been set up to succeed by the system.
It also says to Smith — why would you want to play somewhere else? This scheme helps you shine.
Nevertheless, the line Henderson reports still suggests the Seahawks are prepared to move on. We’ve seen in the past talk of prioritising extending the contracts of Frank Clark and Jadeveon Clowney. Neither re-signed because the price was too high. This is a team that draws a line and tends to stick to it. If they are unwilling to meet Smith’s demands, they’ll likely stick to their guns even if it means looking elsewhere.
Carroll’s tone has also changed slightly. I asked him in Germany, following a NFL Network report about their keenness to keep Smith and Drew Lock, about his interest in keeping their QB’s:
— Rob Staton (@robstaton) November 13, 2022
Understandably Carroll mentioned it was too early to get into discussing contract talks but he made a point of speaking about how pleased he was with Smith and Lock while noting ‘a conversation was coming’ with the pair.
Within Henderson’s article, here’s what Carroll said:
“Well, we’ve work to do… but our system is really good. The system is really good, what we’re asking these guys to do.”
Carroll brings up the scheme — which chimes with the earlier part of Henderson’s report that the Seahawks believe their system is ‘quarterback friendly’.
It’s possible that both Schneider and Carroll are actually on the same page here — both in how they’re approaching negotiations and leverage with Smith but also in a willingness to move on if needs be.
Where else might they be aligned?
They might have agreed on a plan last year ahead of the Russell Wilson trade that they would set out to draft a quarterback in 2023.
Smith’s form in the first half of the season may have provoked a slight pause for thought as he was touted as an outside bet for MVP. Yet having thrown five interceptions in his last five games — a tally that could’ve easily been higher — they might’ve soured somewhat on a major investment in Smith.
As discussed yesterday, Seattle’s cap situation is not set-up to accommodate even a moderately well paid quarterback. They have the seventh most effective cap space ($28.5m) with the third fewest players contracted for 2023. They’ve got a lot of work to do without a lot of cap space to do it.
People have even talked about franchising Smith but I don’t know how you do that without hacking away at your roster — creating more holes — and failing to make any significant additions in the veteran market.
There’s likely a dollar amount they’d be willing to give Smith — it’s probably not close to the amount he’s hoping for. Which means he’ll need to establish his market and then the Seahawks will have a decision to make.
Smith seemed very emotional after the Rams game. There could be many reasons for that. At the time he didn’t know whether Seattle would make the playoffs and possibly assumed, like a lot of us, that Green Bay would beat Detroit. He possibly felt emotional because he thought it was his last game and he has an uncertain future.
After the game he said:
“It’s a business. Football is a business, a lot of people have a lot of decisions to make, that’s where I’ll leave it at.”
Again, it implies that the two sides might be further apart than some think and there’s a willingness on the Seahawks’ behalf to offer a certain salary and if the Smith camp want more, they’ll be prepared to move on.
I don’t think it’s that preposterous that a much cheaper Sam Darnold, Mason Rudolph, Gardner Minshew or Cooper Rush might be added to compete with Drew Lock — before the addition of a quarterback if the draft falls the right way at #5.
Both Carroll and Schneider might be very comfortable with that given how much they’re talking up the scheme. It’s justified too. We saw Jared Goff produce in LA. Baker Mayfield basically flew to the Rams, ran onto the field and had a modicum of success at the end of the season.
Will Levis had a tremendous season for Kentucky playing for Liam Coen in 2021. Aaron Rodgers had two MVP-level seasons playing under Matt LaFleur. Cincinnati made the Super Bowl with a talented offensive roster operating within this scheme.
The Kyle Shanahan and McVay schemes share a lot of DNA and we’re seeing Shanahan dominate games starting a third string ‘Mr Irrelevant’ this season.
I think it’s important to offer the other side to the article I wrote yesterday, which positioned Schneider and Carroll on opposite ends of a big off-season.
It’s possible the opposite is true but I also do lean towards the old ‘no smoke without fire’ when it comes to stuff like this.
Speaking of Levis — here’s something to remember. Not only does he have the physical qualities Schneider loves. His familiarity with the offense Seattle runs could make him even more attractive if he’s required to start sooner rather than later. He spent a year in the Rams offense and then a season in the Shanahan system in college. He will understand the terminology and how to run the scheme.
I’m not sure Levis will last to #5 but he could be a very attractive proposition if Carroll and Schneider are setting themselves up to go quarterback early.
Check out this video I posted on my YouTube channel earlier — it’s also available via ‘The Rebuild’ podcast streams:
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