Seahawks, QB Geno Smith reportedly finalizing new multi-year deal
March 6, 2023 Updated Mon., March 6, 2023 at 6:16 p.m.
SEATTLE – Geno Smith’s comeback story will continue with the Seahawks for at least another three years.
Multiple outlets, including ESPN and the NFL Network, reported Monday afternoon that Smith and the Seahawks are finalizing a new contract. Jordan Schultz reported that it is a three-year deal that can be worth up to $105 million and includes $52 million in the first year, though more specific details had yet to be revealed, including what the specific salary cap hits will be.
A league source confirmed to The Seattle Times that the two sides were close to getting a deal done with talks having intensified in recent days with each side hoping to get something done before Tuesday’s deadline for the Seahawks to use a franchise tag on Smith.
At an average of $35 million, Smith will match what was the per-year average of the last contract Russell Wilson signed with Seattle in 2019. That number also tops what Smith would have gotten on the franchise tag for 2023 of $32.4 million. And the $52 million Smith will get in the first year is almost triple the $17.5 million he had made in the first 10 years of his career.
And thus answers the biggest question the Seahawks had heading into the offseason with Seattle now able to turn its attention to other matters knowing it will have stability at quarterback.
Smith was set to be an unrestricted free agent on March 15 and was likely to get some significant interest after a season in which he led the NFL in completion percentage at 69.2% and set a handful of Seahawks franchise records including for attempts (572), yards (4,282) and completions (399).
Most important, he showed he could lead the Seahawks back to the playoffs in his first season taking over for the traded Russell Wilson, who had been the only QB to lead the team to a Super Bowl title following the 2013 season.
When he started a wild card playoff game against the 49ers he became only the fifth quarterback in team history to start a playoff game, the others being Dave Krieg, Jon Kitna, Matt Hasselbeck and Wilson.
When Seattle traded Wilson to Denver on March 8, Smith wasn’t even officially a Seahawk, not re-signing until mid-April. That signing came three months after Smith was arrested in January on suspicion of driving under the influence (Smith has yet to be charged as prosecutors continue to wait for results of blood tests to be completed).
Smith then had to weather a training camp competition with Drew Lock – acquired in the Wilson trade – to become a starting quarterback for the first time since the 2014 season with the New York Jets.
In his first start with the Seahawks in 2022, Smith threw for two touchdown passes in the first half to lead the Seahawks to a 17-16 win over Wilson and the Broncos.
And with that, he was off and running (or should we say passing?), leading the Seahawks to wins in six of their first nine games to rank as one of the surprise teams in the NFL.
A stretch of five losses in six games followed, putting a playoff bid at risk. But Smith responded to that challenge by leading the Seahawks to wins in each of their last two games to get into the playoffs, where the season ended with a 41-23 loss to the 49ers in a wild-card game.
Smith said after that game he hoped to finish his career with the Seahawks and repay the franchise for giving him a chance to resurrect his career after seven years as a backup.
“I want to finish my career in Seattle. I want to be here,” he said. “The town, the city, the team, Coach (Pete) Carroll, the organization – they all embraced me. You know, I was a guy who probably could have been out of the league. They embraced me … at a time when not many people were, and that means a lot to me.
“I got a lot of loyalty in me. And I want to repay those guys for doing that.”
Some wondered how the late-season stumble might impact Smith’s value, and the Seahawks’ interest in keeping him, especially when factoring in that Seattle had to try to assess if Smith’s 2022 season was a flash-in-the-pan or something he can sustain and that he will be 33 in October.
But today’s news makes clear the Seahawks have decided to ride with Smith, who becomes the fourth pending free agent to agree to a deal with the team this off-season, joining kicker Jason Myers, fullback Nick Bellore and guard Phil Haynes. All could have become unrestricted free agents on March 15.
Seattle could also supplement the quarterback position in the draft, set for April 27-29 with both Carroll and general manager John Schneider saying the team could still look draft a quarterback even if Smith is re-signed.
“In the position we’re in, we are totally connected to the quarterbacks that are coming out. This is a really huge opportunity for us,” Carroll said. “It’s a rare opportunity. We’ve been drafting in the low 20s for such a long time, just don’t get the chance with these guys. So we’re deeply involved with it.”
The Seahawks have picks five and 20 in the first round – the fifth pick coming from Denver via the Wilson deal – and could well decide to take a quarterback with one of those picks even with Smith re-signing.
But for now the Seahawks have their QB1 for 2023.
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