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Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks notebook: QB Geno Smith ‘impressed’ with backup Sam Howell

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith throws a pass in an October 29, 2023 game at Lumen Field.  (Tribune News Service)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

RENTON — For at least a few moments last month after the Seahawks acquired Sam Howell from Washington, speculation swirled that they would have a quarterback competition in 2024.

That talk was quickly quashed when coach Mike Macdonald and president of football operations John Schneider said that Geno Smith remains the team’s starter with Howell as the backup.

“Geno’s our guy,” Schneider said last month at the league meetings.

During a news conference Wednesday at the VMAC that marked his first public comments since the end of the 2024 season, Smith said he welcomed the trade for Howell, and that his arrival won’t change the way he approaches his third year as the team’s starter after taking over for Russell Wilson.

“New coaching staff, old coaching staff, I’ve got everything to prove,” Smith said. “That’s every day. That’s the way I wake up every day. I’m competing with Sam, I know he’s competing with me. I’m going to compete my butt off. I’m competing with everybody in this building to be the best that I can be, so I really don’t approach it any other way.”

Until someone else is added via the draft or free agency, Smith and Howell make up all of the quarterback room.

“I’m very impressed with Sam,” Smith said before recalling the Seahawks’ 29-26 win over Washington last season at Lumen Field in which Howell threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns. “Even from our game last year, he made some really, really good throws. Made some incredible plays. I was on the sidelines, and he made a little sidearm throw for a touchdown and I was telling Drew [Lock], ‘Man, that was pretty sweet.’

“Just to get to know him for the first couple days, you can tell he’s a hard worker. You can tell he’s competitive and he wants to learn and he asks the right questions in the meeting room, and obviously he’s a guy who he has played games in the NFL and he’s done well. We are still learning each other and still figuring this thing out together. But so far, so good with Sam.”

While conjecture about the Seahawks’ QB position may linger until the draft is complete, Smith said there was never a time this offseason when he thought he wouldn’t be with the Seahawks.

“No, no, not at all,” he said.

Smith’s place on the team was solidified when it restructured his contract to turn a $9.6 million roster bonus into a signing bonus, allowing for the cap hit to be spread over this year and next. That cut his cap hit for this year by $4.8 million, but increased it by the same amount for next year, while giving Smith the money immediately instead of only if he was on the roster following the beginning of the new league year.

Raising the cap hit for 2025 means his future will again be an issue following this season. But for now, Smith’s place remains as the starter.

“It was a way to clear up some cap space, so we can get some more guys,” Smith said. “Obviously they guaranteed me money, so that’s good, too. But it was just something that teams do. A lot of guys have done it. It wasn’t really much of a big deal.”

Lockett says ‘Seattle is home’

As Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett ended an almost 20-minute news conference Wednesday, he left one last message for the assembled media, playfully asking that everyone stop writing articles suggesting he could be traded.

While he said it with a smile on his face, the moment also made clear that Lockett knew as well as anyone that, for a little while this offseason, there was talk his Seahawks days could be done.

That discussion ended when he signed a revised two-year contract in March, the purpose of which was to bring down his cap hit for 2024 and make it easier to assure he remains on the team.

The new deal included an $8 million signing bonus, which cut his cap number by the same amount, and guaranteed $4.466 million in salary for 2024. It also turned $4 million of salary into incentives, which will serve as a pay cut if he doesn’t reach them. It increased his cap hit for 2025 by $4 million and includes no guaranteed money beyond this year, meaning Lockett’s future will surely be up for debate a year from now.

Lockett said he was happy to make the concessions to assure that he will stay in Seattle for his 10th season.

“Seattle is home,” said Lockett, who is second in franchise history in career receptions (612) and receiving yards (7,994). “Obviously it’s a business and so you’ve got to kind of look and see what is good for them, you see what’s good for yourself, as well. And with everything that I had a chance to be able to do and become, it’s really cool that you hear that the staff wants you to be on the team, as well. Cool to hear stuff about John when he’s talking to my agent and kind of see how they see me, how they still view me. …

“[I] try not to get too much into the contract because I’m still kind of in a blessed situation. So everybody kind of talks about the contract or talks about the money or say it’s a pay cut or whatever it is, but it’s enough for us to still be here. It’s enough for them to still want me.”

Nwosu will be ready for season

Outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu missed the final 11 games of last season after suffering a pectoral muscle injury. But he is back with the team for the beginning of the offseason program and said he expects to be ready for the beginning of training camp.

“Absolutely,” he said.

In fact, Nwosu said he thinks he’s just a few weeks away from being able to do football activities.

Nwosu has been in his native Los Angeles area this offseason rehabbing with John Meyer, who is also the chairman of performance health & wellness with the Los Angeles Clippers.

“It’s been a good process,” said Nwosu, whose $7.8 million cap hit for 2024 is the seventh-largest on the team. ” … I just can’t wait to get back on the field. I’d probably say I’ve got a few weeks and I feel like I’ll be ready to get back for ball.”


• The Seahawks hired former Utah State standout QB Chuckie Keeton as an offensive assistant coach.

• The Seahawks signed free-agent offensive tackle Max Pircher on Tuesday. A native of Bressanone, Italy, Pircher entered the league as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program with the Rams in 2021 and spent two years on the Rams’ practice squad before spending last year on Detroit’s practice squad. He has yet to play in an NFL game.

• The Seahawks reportedly had South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler in town this week for one of the 30 visits teams are allowed for potential draftees. Oregon QB Bo Nix was also reportedly in for a visit over the weekend. A few others also reported as visiting this week are Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II and Miami safety Kamren Kinchens.

• The Seahawks reportedly had free agent receiver Chase Claypool in for a visit.