The details are out and we can now properly analyse Geno Smith’s contract extension with the Seahawks.
Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk provided this assessment:
The basic information suggests that the guarantee applies to all of 2023, with another $12 million guaranteed in 2024.
That makes it a two-year, $50 million deal (plus incentives). It also means the Seahawks could potentially move on after one season. They’d owe $12 million for 2024; possibly, he’d get that much (or close to it) on the open market, offsetting Seattle’s obligation.
The total breakdown will shed more light on the deal. For now, it’s not crazy to think that the contract makes it easy for the Seahawks to indeed use the fifth overall pick on a quarterback, who would sit for a year or two behind Smith — just as Smith did behind Russell Wilson.
From a Seahawks perspective, this is good news. There’s no long-term commitment, so they can get out of the deal next year if they wish. They’ve also hedged perfectly for the draft, meaning all options are on the table.
Smith has a financial incentive to succeed. If he leads the Seahawks to where they want to go — he will be rewarded. This deal dangles a significant carrot — providing even more motivation than the deal he had a year ago.
Great news for the team on all counts.
For the player, it’s also a win. I suspect the reason this has happened so soon after the combine is simple. Smith’s agents checked on his market in Indianapolis. It wasn’t that extensive. They’ve quickly agreed terms, avoiding the need for any drama that drags into free agency. This way, the Seahawks can plan accordingly to improve the roster next week.
Not only will this give Smith the best chance to succeed — he gets a nice pay rise from a year ago. He’d earned $17,446,078 in his career so far according to Spotrac. This new deal is a decent raise.
It was never realistic that Smith was going to get $30-40m after only one year of production, as he approaches his 33rd birthday. This is a fair offer.
People may question whether the Seahawks could’ve gone even further if his market was cold, by waiting until later in the year. Did they bid against themselves?
I don’t think that’s realistic. For starters, you have to consider optics. Smith performed above expectations in 2022. If the team essentially played hardball with him on a contract, what message would that send to other players?
‘Come and play in Seattle and if you play well enough to win ‘comeback player of the year’, we’ll fight you for every last dime!’
Now they can legitimately say to prospective free agents — ‘we reward success‘. That shouldn’t be underestimated the week before the market opens. Geno Smith will be a selling point for this team during free agency talks. ‘Come and be the next Geno‘ will be something the Seahawks can say with meaning.
Next point — they got a good deal. No, it’s not dirt cheap. But it’s also not expensive. This contract doesn’t appear to be that prohibitive ahead of free agency.
I’m also not sure there’s anyone you’d want to pay big money to available on the market, so what exactly would you be saving money for? The names I’m focusing on are people like A’Shawn Robinson, Zach Allen and Cole Holcomb — Uchenna Nwosu-level targets at a good age and a good price. Maybe Allen gets a decent wedge but we’re not talking about mega-millions here.
You’ve also bought some degree of loyalty I think from Smith. By doing him a solid here, he’s going to be more receptive if you spend the #5 pick on a quarterback. If you’d forced him into a long free agent process, which could’ve been quite humiliating if the market was weak, he’d already be pissed off. Now you’re saying, ‘we’ve looked after you, now we’ve got to get on with what we need to do‘. That might include drafting his eventual replacement. It’ll be easier for him to stomach, now that this deal is done with the minimum of fuss.
The final point is the benefit of having Smith if they do spend #5 on a quarterback. If you were starting Drew Lock or another cheaper veteran in 2023 — Sam Darnold for example — what happens if they struggle early in the season? The pressure to turn to the rookie would be intense. Any plans to redshirt the younger player would be ruined. Just look at Pittsburgh a year ago with Mitchell Trubisky.
If Lock struggled in the first month — fans would be chanting the name of the new guy. Or Geno Smith. It’d get toxic.
If Smith struggles that might happen anyway. But at least you’ve got someone who’s shown he can deliver to the extent that he’ll likely avoid any of this. The fans like Geno enough to be patient with him, allowing the young quarterback to learn.
That way — you can create what I’ve always thought was the best case scenario. You set up your own version of Alex Smith passing the torch to Patrick Mahomes.
Remember — the Chiefs were able to trade Smith for a third round pick and a player (Kendall Fuller). If Smith has a decent 2023 but the Seahawks want to go with the rookie in 2024, they might be able to work with Geno to send him somewhere he can start and get something back.
The deal gets a thumbs up from me. It works for all concerned. I think it sets the team up perfectly at #5 to consider drafting a quarterback or Will Anderson if he lasts (which I don’t think he will). Then you have #20, #38, #53 and #84 to add at other positions.
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