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Seahawks re-sign quarterback Geno Smith on one-year deal with starter still in question

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Houston.  (Associated Press)
Bob Condotta Seattle Times

The Seahawks took a significant — if long anticipated — step in solidifying their quarterback position for the 2022 season, reaching agreement to re-sign Geno Smith on a one-year contract, a source confirmed to The Seattle Times.

The contract is said to have a base value in the $3.5-4 million range with incentives that could take it to as much as $7 million, though full details have yet to be revealed.

It is the fourth straight year Smith has signed with the Seahawks.

But unlike the last three years, when Smith signed for what was essentially the veteran minimum to back up Russell Wilson — Smith made $1.12 million last year — this time he is expected to compete with Drew Lock for the starting job with Wilson off to Denver, with a salary reflecting his change in status.

The re-signing of Smith gives Seattle three QBs on its roster — Lock, Smith and Jacob Eason.

Seattle is expected to acquire at least one more QB either via the draft, a signing or a trade, and re-signing Smith doesn’t necessarily change how the Seahawks may approach the draft.

“We are totally in the mentality that the fourth guy may be important to us for the long haul,” coach Pete Carroll said at the NFL league meetings last month when he said the team hoped to re-sign Smith. “So we are definitely still in the quarterback business.”

Smith, 31, started three games for the Seahawks last season when Wilson was out with a middle finger injury, leading Seattle to a 1-2 record that included a 31-7 win over Jacksonville and three-point losses to the Saints and Steelers, the latter in overtime.

Smith completed 65 of 95 passes for 702 yards, five touchdowns and one interception and a passer rating of 103.0 that was almost the same as Wilson’s 103.1.

Those were the only three games any QB other than Wilson has started for Seattle since 2011.

Smith, a second-round pick of the Jets in 2013 out of West Virginia, has 34 career NFL starts, going 13-21.

That includes a 12-18 record as the primary starter for the Jets in his first two seasons in the league in 2013-14.

Carroll said at the league meetings that if Smith re-signed he would enter the offseason atop the depth chart at quarterback, saying he would be “kind of the leader … because he’s been with us for so many years. He knows what’s going on.”

At that time, Carroll pointed out Smith’s two losses were at home in tough weather conditions against the Saints and on the road against the Steelers and that Smith then went 20 of 24 with two TDs to lead the rout over Jacksonville in his last start before Wilson returned.

“Played almost a perfect game that day,” Carroll said of the Jacksonville game, adding that once Smith finally got a chance to play for Seattle, “he took advantage of it.”

Carroll then gave what sounded like something of a plea for Smith to hurry up and get a contract done. Smith, though, was known to want a significant raise given that this year he will enter the season with a chance to start.

“This is why it’s kind of ‘C’mon Geno, get it going (and re-sign),’” Carroll said of Smith having the chance to start. “… He’s a really tough, competitive kid, which we love. And the mentality. The players love him and he gets along with everybody, so if it all gets set up the way like it should happen it’s going to be a very competitive opportunity. … We’ll see if Geno can pull it off.”

Getting the deal done now also assures that Smith will take part in the team’s offseason workout program, which begins next week, something the Seahawks undoubtedly wanted to happen.

Smith’s three starts last season were his most significant action with the Seahawks. He did not play during the 2019 season, his first with Seattle, and in 2020 played in only one game, going 4-5 for 33 yards in mop-up duty of a blowout over the Jets.

In fact, he made just one start since leaving the Jets in 2016 — in 2017 with the Giants — before taking over for Wilson last season.

Smith was arrested on suspicion of DUI on Jan. 10 with a report from the Washington State Patrol stating he was traveling 96 mph on Interstate 90 before being pulled over. No charges have been filed.

But Carroll said that would not be a factor in the team’s decision to re-sign Smith.

A spokesman for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said Thursday the office was still waiting for blood test results from the State Patrol Crime Lab before making a filing decision.

In a tweet on the day of his arrest, Smith stated: “Being arrested brings a taint onto the reputation that is impossible to undo, no matter what really happened. I’m asking all of you to hold back on judging me the same as you would do for a friend or family member. I’ll have more to say down the road.”