ESPN’s Riddick: Gap between Seahawks’ Geno Smith, Drew Lock is ‘Grand Canyon-esque’

Editor of SeattleSports.com

The big question mark for the Seahawks going into the offseason is at the quarterback position.

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

Yes, Geno Smith was a surprising success taking over for Russell Wilson as Seattle’s starter in 2022, earning his first career Pro Bowl nod. But he’s set to be a free agent, as is his backup, Drew Lock, who Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have not been shy about saying they were impressed with despite him not taking any snaps this season.

Smith will undoubtedly cost more to bring back, so there is a theory that the Hawks could be better off re-signing Lock to leave more salary cap space to improve at other areas.

Louis Riddick, a former NFL player and who is now a longtime analyst for ESPN, joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Monday morning and shared his thoughts on the two options.

Co-host Mike Salk posed this scenario to Riddick: “What if you decide to not sign Geno Smith (and instead) sign Drew Lock, who you say you like a lot – I mean, Pete and John have both been adamant about how great Drew was this year. You save some $25 million… (and then) you sign (Pro Bowl defensive tackle) Daron Payne and you trade for (Pro Bowl edge rusher) Maxx Crosby? Which team is better: Drew Lock, Maxx Crosby and Daron Payne, or Geno Smith?”

Count Riddick in column B.

“I think the gulf between what Drew Lock could do and what Geno Smith did this year is Grand Canyon-esque,” he responded. “I don’t care how much (the Seahawks) say they like (Lock) – I don’t see it. I believe that drop off would be so significant and so dramatic that Daron Payne better be Warren Sapp and Aaron Donald combined when he gets there… I don’t see that as being a situation where then they improve on their record this year and take another step.”

Riddick explained why he believes more in the value Smith carries on the field than the savings that could be used elsewhere on the field for Seattle if it let him leave in free agency.

“Your margin for error shrinks obviously when there’s more cap dollars allocated to the quarterback position, but it’s not an automatic death sentence and a recipe for mediocrity if you have to pay your quarterback. … What people automatically equate this to is, ‘Well, I can’t then go out in free agency and just buy up a bunch of guys. I can’t spread it around and get all these other guys that I want.’ I know that that sounds great in theory, and it should be great in theory to be able to try and take advantage of that window of a cheaper quarterback or a quarterback on his rookie contract.”

Lefko: New salary cap makes Seahawks’ decisions for QB and draft easy

Riddick then pointed at one of the two teams in this week’s Super Bowl.

“I can tell you this: based on the way that they drafted this year, and the return on investment they got with their draft picks this year, and the haul of picks that they have this year coming up – look at what Kansas City did as far as their rookies this year. Look at the return they got on their rookies this year. They got six guys playing on defense right now that are key, key contributors. … Geno wasn’t the reason why this team couldn’t take a further jump this year, and I don’t think that cap space is necessarily something that you have to safeguard to the degree where if you have some more cap space and you do get a young quarterback in there, that cap space that you will then gain will allow you to go out and get some players that will get you over the hump with a young quarterback. I don’t necessarily believe that to be the case.”

Riddick covered much more in the conversation, including his thoughts on prospects from the Senior Bowl. You can listen in the podcast below.

Brock Huard: How this draft’s strength helps the Seahawks in free agency