Why an ESPN host thinks it’s a no-brainer for Seahawks to re-sign Geno

Feb 3, 2023, 10:51 AM
Seahawks Geno Smith...
Seahawks QB Geno Smith celebrates after defeating the Rams in overtime on Jan. 8, 2023. (Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)
(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

Should the Seahawks pay 32-year-old Geno Smith or go younger and cheaper this offseason? It’s a basic question without an easy answer – that is unless you’re ESPN’s Max Kellerman, who calls the decision a no-brainer.

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If you were to tell fans last March that they’d be moving on from Russell Wilson and would have the No. 5 overall pick in the draft, quarterback would see plenty of consideration. But that was before Smith had a surprise Pro Bowl season and before the defense continued to struggle with inconsistency. It was also before the rest of the NFL saw Smith’s potential as a matured starter.

“(My co-host) Keyshawn (Johnson) told me look, it’s going to be the same with Geno,” Kellerman told Bump and Stacy Thursday. “I was like are you crazy? I’ve seen Geno play for like a decade. He’s not good. Like, come on. I know Pete Carroll’s a really good coach. But it was the same thing. It was more or less the same thing. A little less; Geno’s not as good as Russell Wilson at his best. But Pete Carroll clearly can win with Geno Smith. Now, can you win the whole thing? That remains to be seen. You do feel like you’re not at an advantage if you’re playing another team that’s also good and well coached but they have a spectacular quarterback. But like Daniel Jones – although Geno has better receiving targets – it’s one thing to say well he’s just in a good system. But it’s another thing to say no, but he’s playing it well. Geno Smith played well, at least what I saw. And you could do a lot worse than Geno Smith over the next two or three years.”

The Seahawks like Smith. To such an extent in fact that when he was still a free agent earlier this spring, head coach Pete Carroll sang his praises and implied that he’d have a lead in an open competition at quarterback.

Smith faced plenty of doubt heading into the season, but proved critics wrong by setting new franchise records for passing yards (4,282), completions (399) and completion percentage (69.8). He was imperfect, but no one expected Smith to take over as another version of Joe Burrow or Patrick Mahomes. Many simply expected a game manager, and got instead a quarterback who could be an impactful starter.

Problem is “veteran starter” is quite a bit costlier. The franchise tag this year is $32.4 million, which would presumably be the negotiating point for Smith’s new deal, were he to be re-signed. But even then, Kellerman knows what decision he’d make if he were Seattle’s front office.

“You give a guy a three-year deal and guarantee two years of the money, you’re spreading it out over three seasons,” Kellerman said. “So for cap hit purposes, if it’s $33 (million) you really go up to a little under 40 (million) and you’re saving money on the cap. And that’s why you do it. So it seems to me like it’s a no-brainer that Geno’s at least two years guaranteed at $70 million over a three-year contract. Why wouldn’t you do that?”

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