Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Commentary: Geno Smith was good for Seahawks last season but not good enough for huge deal

Jan. 31, 2023 Updated Tue., Jan. 31, 2023 at 6:18 p.m.

Geno Smith (7) of the Seattle Seahawks scrambles out of the pocket during a 27-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Inglewood, California.  (Tribune News Service)
Geno Smith (7) of the Seattle Seahawks scrambles out of the pocket during a 27-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Inglewood, California. (Tribune News Service)
By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

SEATTLE – A college friend of mine lived in a house in Venice, California, for almost 20 years and generally had at least three roommates. But the tenant turnover rate was high, and to keep his own rent down, he was often tasked with finding new dwellers.

One day when I was visiting, a prospective renter looked at the place and told my buddy that he was in and would have the check for him tomorrow.

“Well, that problem is solved,” I said.

“Nah,” my friend responded. “Until that check is in my hand, none of that meant anything.”

People say a lot of different things for a lot of different reasons. This is true of renters, this is of true high-school athletes giving oral commitments – and for the sake of this column, this can be true of NFL coaches, general managers and quarterbacks.

The talk is that Geno Smith is going to be the starting signal caller for the Seahawks next year. Ask coach Pete Carroll, GM John Schneider or the QB himself about it, and the answers indicate the NFL Comeback Player of the Year will surely come back to Seattle.

Until that contract is signed, I’d be skeptical. Though Smith has proved himself to be worth good money – he didn’t do enough to earn great money.

The Seahawks were one of the more surprising teams in the league last season in that they vastly exceeded the basement-level expectations engendered by the Russell Wilson trade. To go 9-8 and slip into the playoffs with five rookies starting epitomized overachievement.

The primary factor in that unexpected surge was Smith, a seven-year backup who was thrust into the starting role before leading the NFL in completion percentage (69.8) and finishing fifth in passer rating (100.9).

Phenomenal story … for the first half of the season.

Something happened over the final eight games of the schedule when Seattle went from 6-3 to 9-8. There were losses to the Bucs, Panthers and Raiders – none finished with winning records – that nearly cost the Seahawks what once seemed like an assured playoff spot.

Smith wasn’t terrible over this stretch. He produced passer ratings of at least 103 in four of the final eight games he played. But there were seven interceptions over that stint, too – two of which came on Seattle’s first offensive play of the game – and a glaring lack of magic that was customary in the Wilson era.

It was as if the screenwriters went on strike before penning the third act of his script, leaving the rest of Smith’s story in the hands of scabs. And you have to wonder if the boon of Smith’s play last season will turn out to be a burden going forward.

If he was forgettable, the Seahawks’ brass would face an easy decision: Beef up this team through the draft and use the salary-cap space to shore up as many weaknesses as possible. There are a lot of them. From the pass rush (or the front seven in general) to the offensive line to the receiving corps – areas for improvement on this team abound.

If you look at the four teams that made the conference championship games, three had QBs playing on a rookie deal (49ers, Eagles and Bengals), while the Chiefs had the consensus best quarterback in the league in Patrick Mahomes. This is typically how you win in the NFL. Build around a young signal caller or sign one of the top three in football.

Overpaying for Smith – ( has his market value at $39.3 million per year) would hamstring the Seahawks more than it would help.

Smith’s postgame interview after the playoff loss to the Niners was as genuine as it was poignant. Asked about his future with the Seahawks he said, “They embraced me at a time when not many people were. I feel like that means a lot to me. I’ve got a lot of loyalty in me, and I want to repay those guys for doing that.”

Carroll and Schneider spoke with equal desire about Smith coming back. But let’s be real: What else were they supposed to say?

The reality is that Smith’s pretty good 2022 was by far the best season he’s produced since being drafted in 2013. That isn’t much to go on.

Smith returning would be heartwarming, no doubt. But if he asks for a lot – it might be asking too much.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.