Huard: How Seahawks’ deal with Geno Smith is more ‘team-friendly’ than thought

Mar 13, 2023, 11:39 AM
Seahawks Geno Smith...
Seahawks QB Geno Smith stands in the tunnel prior to a playoff game against the 49ers on Jan. 14. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Details on the Seahawks’ contract extension with quarterback Geno Smith came to light over the weekend when Over the Cap released its findings on the deal, and after looking it over, Seattle Sports’ Brock Huard has come to a conclusion.

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That conclusion is that the contract is much more team-friendly than initially thought when it was first reported as a three-year, $75 million extension last week.

For starters, per Over the Cap, Smith’s salary cap hit for the 2023 season is just $10.1 million. The cap hit jumps significantly the next season to $31.2 million, but over the entirety of the contract, only $27.3 million is fully guaranteed to Smith.

Where things get especially team-friendly are with escalators, which Huard, a former NFL quarterback who is now a FOX college football analyst, explained are different from the incentives that essentially doubled Smith’s salary in 2022.

“So last year on his deal (it was) one year, $3.5 million, and then $3.5 million in incentives to be paid and he hit every one of them – go to the Pro Bowl, go to the playoffs – so he doubled his salary last year and he got that in real time,” Huard said Monday on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. “Season ended, ‘Here you go, you earned this bonus.’ As I understand it, as I look at this language (on Smith’s new contract), these aren’t even incentives in that manner, they are escalators. … If he hits his numbers and he plays at the same levels he did a year ago and they go to the playoffs and he goes to the Pro Bowl, as I understand this contract, then next year escalates. It’s not as if he gets just a big ol’ check, it is, ‘OK, now next year your salary bumps up significantly.’ And you go you from making ‘X’ to a $32 million cap hit or $33 million dollar cap.”

The caveat is that the Seahawks aren’t locked into having to pay Smith those escalated numbers if they don’t want to, though.

“So you get big time escalators, but then you’ve got to be on the roster, you’ve got to be the quarterback next year. It really is a year-by-year deal they can get out of,” Huard said.

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While one narrative with Smith’s deal has been that the Seahawks are betting on him, to Huard, the bet with the contract is actually more Smith’s.

“Geno really bet on himself – and I would say even at times over-bet,” Huard said. “Like, gosh, I think I’d want that cash on hand, in my pocket rather than just as an escalator into the next season because this team can make a decision after one year to be done. So it was about as team-friendly a deal as I can ever remember for a guy that was a Pro Bowler.”

That all being said, considering Smith’s unique position as a first-time Pro Bowler at 32 years old, he and his representation may have seen the Seahawks’ offer as their best option.

“Then again,” Huard said, “Geno Smith’s a (kind of) guy that most of us can never remember, coming out of nowhere after nine years (in the NFL) having the kind of season he did. So Geno’s agent looked at the market, decided ‘This is going to be the best deal we can get. We’re not going to go to market, we’re going to not necessarily give back to the team that took care of us, but we’re certainly going to have as friendly a deal as imaginable.’ And kudos in the end to (Seahawks vice president of football administration) Matt Thomas and (general manager) John Schneider. They’ve got to get that deal done. They’ve got to do the negotiating. They’ve got to do the communication. Yeah, (coach Pete Carroll) comes in on the side every once in a while when Geno was maybe a little bit upset or felt disrespected, but give a big tip of the cap to John and to Matt Thomas for getting an incredibly team-friendly deal done to lock up the quarterback.”

You can hear Huard’s full thoughts in the Blue 88 segment near the end of the podcast at this link or in the player below. Blue 88, which features Huard answering three football questions, airs live at 7:45 a.m. during each edition of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

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Huard: How Seahawks’ deal with Geno Smith is more ‘team-friendly’ than thought