STACY ROST

Jake & Stacy: Who’s behind Door No. 3 at quarterback for Seahawks?

May 14, 2022, 9:48 AM
Seahawks Garnder Minshew...
Gardner Minshew of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after defeating the Washington Football Team 20-16. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
(Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

In all likelihood, the Seahawks will enter the season with either Drew Lock or Geno Smith under center. The Seahawks are higher on Lock than national critics and appreciate Smith’s familiarity with the offense. There are other names who could make some noise in camp, Jacob Eason being one of them, but for now, it’s a two-man battle for the starting gig.

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But what about a third option? Behind door No. 3 for the Seahawks are a few other potential starters. Are they all equally likely? Absolutely not. But in a wide-open quarterback room, it helps to keep tabs on potentially available starters. So, let’s jump in:

Baker Mayfield

Why it could work: Mayfield has made it clear he’s unhappy with Cleveland’s signing of Deshaun Watson and has requested a trade. The Browns may have not dealt him just yet, but the relationship feels beyond repair. His ceiling remains high, despite his struggles, and his style of play compliments Carroll’s ideal role for quarterbacks.

Why it wouldn’t: Mayfield’s is by far the most frequent name linked to the Seahawks. But a marriage that at one point felt like a safe bet now feels like a long shot. ESPN’s Dianna Russini said in early May that the Seahawks are out on Mayfield and plan to stick with Lock. You’d assume two key factors there: firstly, a trade would mean taking on Mayfield’s $18.8 million cap hit. Secondly, the Seahawks seem genuinely higher on Lock’s potential than do national critics.

But what if Mayfield is cut?

“Baker Mayfield potentially being cut is one of those options (at quarterback), and I believe that it is an option that is very, very much on the table for them,” Heaps said. “This is something that I don’t think is farfetched. I don’t think this is a media creation whatsoever.”

The problem?

“No one in the NFL wants to trade for Baker Mayfield, period, end of story,” Heaps said. That list presumably includes Seattle, since any team that acquired Mayfield would also take on his $19 million cap hit. The Carolina Panthers may be the one team out there that might be nervous enough (if neither Sam Darnold nor Matt Corral look good in the offseason) … and I kind of think that that’s what Cleveland is holding out for. But if the Panthers feel comfortable with their situation, then the Browns are going to be in a position where they’re just going to have to flat out cut Mayfield.”

A Panthers’ trade for Mayfield certainly makes Week 1 interesting; Mayfield would be starting for Carolina in a matchup against his former team. But let’s say Carolina doesn’t make the move. There’s always a chance the Browns hang onto Mayfield in the case that another team suffers an injury and needs to trade for a potential starter (the league’s trade window is typically open through all of October). There’s also a chance they hang onto him to start in place of Deshaun Watson should the latter be dealt a suspension by the league. That would, though, require that Mayfield be willing to play – and right now, he hasn’t yet reported.

If he’s cut, he can sign anywhere as a free agent, which opens up the competition for his services. But if you’re Mayfield, it may be hard to pass up the opportunity to be a starter in Seattle.

Lamar Jackson

Why it could work: Jackson has thrived in Baltimore’s run-heavy offense, a scheme that has a run-pass balance that more closely resembles a Carroll team as opposed to pass-heavy offenses in Kansas City or, last year, Tampa Bay. Seattle could find their quarterback of the future in 2023’s more stacked class… or, they could use their healthy draft capital (two first rounders and two second rounders) to acquire the more proven 25-year-old Jackson from Baltimore. Jackson’s currently in contract limbo with Baltimore: he’s playing out the fifth-year option on his deal and has yet to sign an extension.

Why it wouldn’t work: The Ravens have something few teams do – a franchise quarterback. For any flaw you can find with Jackson’s game, he’s a rare talent and one the Ravens would (and should) be hesitant to let go of, even for a hefty draft pick haul. Jackson has also challenged reports that he’s had thoughts of leaving Baltimore. The two sides reaching an agreement on a new deal feels far likelier than Seattle giving up capital to acquire him.

“Lamar Jackson wants to improve himself as a passer in this league,” Heaps said. “He just doesn’t want to be labeled as an athlete. That is very clear. I believe Lamar Jackson is a very loyal guy. He is somebody that has said over and over again how he wants to be with the Baltimore Ravens. But if you’re negotiating your own deal, first and foremost, that can get complicated. Secondly, if this season does not go well offensively for Jackson and the Ravens you could see very easily how Jackson could be the next quarterback that is available on the trading block. With two first and two seconds, the Seahawks sit in pretty good position to have the firepower to be able to pull off a trade for Lamar Jackson, and I think that that would be something that everyone should be very, very interested in here in Seattle.”

Gardner Minshew

Why it could work: A favorite of Seattle fans, many of whom have followed Minshew’s professional career since his time at Washington State. And who wouldn’t want a little Minshew Mania? It would take significantly less draft capital to acquire Minshew via trade compared to a franchise star like Jackson.

Why it wouldn’t: Frankly, there haven’t been too many rumors linking Seattle to Minshew. And even then, he’d offer a stop-gap option for a team that’s probably more interested in finding a long-term one.

“It would be fun, I would love that,” Heaps said, “but I don’t think the Seattle Seahawks are even considering that right now. And they’ve made it very clear that that is not in the cards for them… If Baker Mayfield is not going to be a part of this competition, it will come down to Drew Lock and Geno Smith or Jacob Eason. That is very clear cut. I can’t say that enough. Sorry. For everybody out there that would love some Minshew mania, it will not be the case. I do view the Lamar Jackson situation as something to keep an eye on. But the other situation is that you go ahead and use this draft capital on your guy of the future in the 2023 draft. And there are some intriguing names that stand out to me that I really like.”

Nick Foles

Why it could work: It wouldn’t cost Seattle much salary or draft pick-wise since Foles remains an unsigned free agent. Like Minshew, he’d act as a stop-gap veteran for a rebuilding team. But he’s also one whos’ been there before – “there” being a Super Bowl win.

Why it wouldn’t: Foles has been in free agency and Seattle hasn’t made a move, despite having a wide-open quarterback competition.

“Look, Nick Foles is the most accomplished quarterback outside of Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency right now,” Heaps said. “He’d be the most accomplished quarterback on this roster if you were to sign him. I honestly I would not be mad if the Seattle Seahawks went out and signed Nick Foles to add to this competition. They will not. They won’t. But I would be very happy if they did. I think that Nick Foles is a quarterback that would be way more stable and put you in better positions than the volatility of Geno Smith and Drew Lock. Geno Smith is somebody that you’re familiar with who has been in your building. And that’s why you decided to sign him back. And Lock obviously is the upside guy here. And Jacob Eason for that matter, too. So, Foles is not something to laugh at, given your quarterback situation right now. But it’s not something that they’re going to do… I just really, really think that they are hoping that Drew Lock is the week one starter here

Kyler Murray

Why it could work: If the Seattle Seahawks found themselves in an alternate universe where a team would be willing to trade a franchise quarterback to a divisional rival, and that franchise quarterback wasn’t looking to re-set the market with a new deal.

Why it wouldn’t: Because what team would trade a franchise quarterback to a divisional rival?

Heaps agrees.

“Not gonna happen. Look, will Kyler Murray be traded next year? Possibly, if things go south (with negotiations) and then they don’t finish (the season) right again. At the end of the year, yeah, there’s gonna be a lot of dysfunction, there’s gonna be a lot of drama and a lot of conversation surrounding all of that. But I’m telling you right now, the Arizona Cardinals are not dumb enough to trade Kyler Murray to their division opponents. It’s not gonna happen. I’m sorry. It’s not gonna happen. Fun conversation. But no way. No.”

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