Jimmy G is still a Seahawks QB option, and it’s about to get interesting
The Seahawks quarterback race has been the most compelling storyline of training camp, but it hasn’t exactly inspired confidence in what the offense will look like with either Geno Smith or Drew Lock leading this team when the season begins.
Sure, there are several variables that go into evaluating a quarterback, and neither is fully responsible for the offensive line penalties nor dropped passes that have plagued the Seahawks in their preseason games. The same can be said for the challenges of splitting first team reps in practice.
Regardless of all those reasons, there is a simple question that remains: Is either Smith or Lock was definitively the best option, wouldn’t it have been apparent by now?
Jimmy Garoppolo will be released by the 49ers. They simply can’t afford to keep him on the roster, and they even had a press conference where head coach Kyle Shanahan unequivocally came out and said that Garoppolo will not be on their team moving forward. That’s simple enough, right? Not exactly, because the 49ers are locked in a game of chicken with the Seahawks and any other team that might need a quarterback.
Garoppolo’s current contract is unwieldy. He is owed slightly over $24 million this season, and when all the various signing/roster/workout bonuses are tallied up, it amounts to a nearly $27 million salary cap hit. No one is taking on that contract, not even the 49ers. The 53-man roster deadline is Aug. 30, and that would be a likely date when San Francisco cuts ties with Garoppolo. However, if the 49ers release him anytime before Week 1, the team saves $24.95 million. It’s like how the Seahawks structured Bobby Wagner’s contract. It simply makes sense for the 49ers to release him, it’s only a matter of how long they wait to do it.
When you’re a free agent, there are no preexisting monetary obligations. According to OverTheCap.com, the Seahawks have $15 million in cap space – plenty of room to work out a manageable deal with Garoppolo.
At the start of training camp, it seemed like it would be too much to overcome, too big of a disadvantage to have a quarterback come in that late in the competition and be able to win the job or have a mastery of how the Seahawks want to run their offense. But after watching Smith and Lock perform serviceable, yet not much beyond that, the idea of getting Garoppolo onto the roster by Week 2 becomes highly appealing.
Garoppolo wouldn’t start right away, but you wouldn’t need him to because the Seahawks do have two quarterbacks who can do enough to keep a team in the game, especially with a favorable early season schedule that features the moribund Falcons (Week 3) and improving yet still very bad Lions (Week 4). Three weeks of ramp up time for Garoppolo and throw him out there for a start in Week 5 against the Saints.
Stats don’t lie
The Seahawks have done well facing off against Garoppolo, which seems to have clouded the judgment of portions of the fan base who will hear the name and associate a built-in negative bias of him. But even a cursory glance at his stats when compared to Geno Smith or Drew Lock show why Garoppolo is the best option when he becomes available.
• 2019-16 starts: 3,978 yards, 27 TD, 13 INT
• 2021-15 starts: 3,810 yards, 20 TD, 12 INT
• 2013-16 starts: 3,046 yards, 12 TD, 21 INT
• 2014-13 starts: 2,525 yards, 13 TD, 13 INT
• 2020-13 starts: 2,933 yards, 16 TD, 15 INT
It’s not Smith’s fault that he sat behind a guy who never missed a start until last year, but the lack of starts for Smith and Lock is glaring and brings its own uncertainty about how either of them will fare over the course of an entire season. Garoppolo started 15 games last year, while Smith and Lock combined started six in 2021.
The Seahawks want to emphasize the run game, and you don’t need a great quarterback to do that – you simply need a good one. A steadying force, a calming presence in the huddle and someone who knows how to win playing that style of football. Garoppolo did that with the 49ers and has the NFC championship win to prove it, and was a dropped interception away from another one last season.
The Seahawks’ final preseason game is Friday in Dallas, and after it they will name either Geno Smith or Drew Lock as the starting quarterback. But that might not be the end of the competition. In fact, it could just be the beginning.