Seahawks have a franchise-changing decision to make on Geno Smith

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Seahawks have a bunch of high-end draft capital and lots of cap space in 2023. The play of Geno Smith in 2022 is going to have an effect on both of those things. Does Seattle want to choose a potentially high-end quarterback with their first pick in the 2023 NFL draft (or their later pick in the first round) or does Seattle want to extend Smith for a couple or few more seasons?

This question may have been easier to answer after Week 9. Prior to the Cardinals game, Smith was playing at a level that he had never played in the NFL and he was producing numbers well enough to possibly put him in the MVP conversation. He wasn’t likely to win the award but he could at least receive a vote or five. And wouldn’t that have been ironic as the Seahawks traded away the best quarterback in franchise history (Russell Wilson) last offseason and Wilson never received any MVP votes?

But since Week 10, whether it be because Seattle’s run game has mostly been non-existent or the pass blocking hasn’t been as good, Smith hasn’t been quite as good. Between weeks 1 and 9 (nine games total), Smith had thrown 4 interceptions and lost 1 fumble. Since Week 10 (in five games), Smith has thrown 4 interceptions and lost 3 fumbles. Smith still leads the NFL in completion percentage for the season (71.4), is second in quarterback rating (105.3), and had thrown for the fourth-most touchdowns (26) so his overall play isn’t just worthy of being a two-year starter; He is playing well enough to be the starter in Seattle for the foreseeable future.

What should the Seahawks do with Geno Smith in 2023?

And Smith also is still relatively young for a QB. He just turned 32 years old but since he didn’t have that many reps between 2015 and 2021, his body has taken the beating that many quarterbacks receive. If there is such a thing as a young 32 in the NFL, it would be Geno Smith.

But Smith is a free agent after this year. The question becomes do the Seahawks want to pay him around $30 million a season (this sounds like a lot but if Smith were to get paid that much in 2023, he would currently rank as the 12th highest-paid QB next year) or does Seattle simply want to take a QB high in the 2023 draft and install them as a Week 1 starter. This would mean Smith would leave Seattle. Either way, he is going to get paid a lot by someone.

Seattle could also franchise-tag Smith for next season. This doesn’t really save them any cap space, however. According to Over The Cap, the franchise tag for a QB in 2023 is projected to be $31,497,000. Paying Smith would eat up a lot of Seattle’s $52,507,618 they currently have in cap room in 2023.

Seattle will be taking a chance no matter what they do. If they do re-sign Smith, will Smith be anywhere as good in the future as he has been for most of 2022? If he is, then great. The Seahawks can draft to build the team around him.

If the Seahawks don’t extend Smith and draft a quarterback high, then that quarterback absolutely must work out well or the franchise is going to be hurting for years to come. Seattle has massive holes at the interior of the defensive line, linebacker, pass rush, and one of its cornerback slots. Signing Smith would allow Seattle to draft at a position of great need.

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Maybe what Seattle should do is franchise Smith, hope he plays as well in 2023 as he has this year, and draft a pass rusher first and some other part of the defense with their next pick. If Smith doesn’t do nearly as well in 2023, draft a quarterback in the 2024 NFL draft. That way, the team is built better around any quarterback and the quarterback would just, best-case scenario, put the team back into being a Super Bowl contender.