Lefko: Seahawks’ 5-game stretch will set course for next 2 seasons

Nov 16, 2023, 9:55 AM | Updated: 10:19 am

Seattle Seahawks Geno Smith Pete Carroll...

Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith talks with coach Pete Carroll during a game against the Jets. (Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

(Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks are 6-3 and in solid playoff position in a top-heavy NFC, so yes, it may feel wildly speculative attaching too much meaning to what this upcoming five-game stretch means not just for this year, but the next two seasons as well.

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It also might be necessary when you consider the short-term future of key members of the Seahawks and how these next five games will provide a referendum on exactly where they stand when it comes to the best teams in the conference.

Pete Carroll’s contract runs through the 2025 season. The Seahawks have enjoyed remarkable stability at head coach, a rarity in the NFL, with just three current coaches having been in their positions longer than Carroll. The assumption is that he will retire after that 2025 season, so working under that premise gives us a timeline on when the Seahawks’ current plan needs to come to fruition.

A stunning, bold trade of Russell Wilson jumpstarted the Seahawks out of the plateau they were stuck on and gave them flexibility and opportunity for one more chance at an ascent to the top. That may require another big decision at the quarterback position.

Geno Smith is under contract through 2025 as well, but it is essentially a one-year deal.

Per Spotrac: It’s a combined cap savings of $47.5 million going into the 2025 season, with a total dead cap hit of just $17.4 million. That is a massive disparity and says that the Seahawks are willing to do whatever is necessary to find the right quarterback, whether it’s Geno Smith, or someone else, in order to maximize their chance at winning a Super Bowl in the next 2.5 seasons.

Now you’re probably asking, ‘Why are you telling me things I already know, and how are you going to weave this into a coherent thought about how it relates to the next five games for the Seahawks?’

That’s a fair question, and here is the answer: You want to be as informed as possible before making any big decision. Just look at the lengths that teams go to before drafting players. So for the Seahawks, with five games all against teams from their conference – four of those versus the three teams currently best positioned to win a Super Bowl out of the NFC – and after Dec. 17, the Seahawks will have a definitive answer as to whether they are set at quarterback for the following two seasons.

If there is a common thread that ties the Rams, 49ers, Cowboys, and Eagles, it’s that they all have their quarterback, a guy who has led them to a Super Bowl appearance, or one that team fully believes is the guy to get it done because of what is in place around them.

Matthew Stafford has won a Super Bowl (he’s also 3-0 against the Seahawks while on the Rams), Jalen Hurts just took the Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance, the 49ers have been able to load up at every position because Brock Purdy is on his rookie contract, and the Cowboys – whether from misplaced hubris or true belief – are pot-committed to Dak Prescott after signing him to a massive contract in 2021.

It certainly won’t be fully on Geno Smith to have to win these next five games, but there needs to be enough consistency to know that he is the guy. The one who led game-winning drives against the Lions and the Commanders, who was 15-20 for 217 yards, and two touchdowns in the second half on Sunday – and not the quarterback who endured a stretch of six interceptions in the four games prior.

Windows of contention open and close rapidly in the NFL. There are moving targets of opportunity, with the best laid plans sometimes coming undone due to cruel circumstance. Just look at the contrast between the Buffalo Bills, a franchise that methodically built a championship contender since 2018 only to see other teams surpass them and never have it fully come to form, with the Ravens, who have reignited what seemed like a failing formula, by finding the perfect pairing of coordinator and quarterback to complement a strong defense.

This is the path the Seahawks are hurtling down, with potentially diverging choices waiting to be made after these next five games.

Emerging with a winning record from this gauntlet would be highly encouraging and solidify the internal belief that this team is being close to a championship contender, maybe just some slight tinkering away. Yet, a stumble during this stretch leads to a murkier future and one that may necessitate an overhaul at quarterback in order to maximize the chance at one more Super Bowl run before a franchise-defining era comes to an end.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Rost: Russell Wilson is playing well – how should Seahawks fans feel?
Football 101: How Seattle Seahawks’ run blocking controlled the game
• Bumpus: How Seahawks’ Leonard Williams is impressing right away
• Seahawks Notebook: Carroll on Jason Peters, Dre Jones, injuries
• Bumpus: Seattle Seahawks’ Riq Woolen quietly playing better each week

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Lefko: Seahawks’ 5-game stretch will set course for next 2 seasons