In the press conference immediately following the Seattle Seahawks' shocking last-minute upset of the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football in Week 15, head coach Pete Carroll squelched any possibility of a growing quarterback controversy in the Emerald City. When asked if Geno Smith would be the starter in Week 16 if Smith is healthy enough to play, Carroll did not hesitate in answering "Geno's our starter." And that is how it should be, right?
Players should not lose their jobs to injury. Smith isn't going to be Wally Pipp to Drew Lock's Lou Gehrig. There is no indication that Lock is the equal of Gehrig because otherwise, the Seahawks would have an all-time great at quarterback. But there is also no real indication, based on the last two games, that Geno Smith gives Seattle a better chance of winning not only this year but next.
Seattle has financial decisions to make at many positions this coming offseason, and that includes quarterback. Smith signed an extension this past offseason for three more years, but his cap hit will increase by $21.1 million in 2024. Drew Lock is set to be a free agent.
A QB1 controversy might be brewing for the Seattle Seahawks and here is why
Smith isn't going to be old next year; he will turn 34 years old during the season. Lock, however, is only 27 years old and might be capable of being a starter in Seattle for several more years if the Seahawks decide to address other positions at the beginning of next year's draft. Lock never had good offensive coaching in his time with the Denver Broncos before being traded to Seattle in 2022. Maybe he just needed longer to figure out how to play in the NFL.
Plus, Seattle being Seattle, there is certainly no guarantee they take a quarterback high in the draft because the highest general manager John Schneider and coach Carroll have chosen one was Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft. The Seahawks could have used the high first-round selection they got back from the Broncos in 2022 on a quarterback, but instead they went with left tackle Charles Cross.
Drew Lock currently makes $4 million for 2023. Moving on from Geno Smith would free up $13.8 million next offseason. Even if Seattle re-signs Lock to replace Smith, the team could probably still come out with a net gain. Then Seattle could go with Lock to begin next year while changing their ways and taking a quarterback with their first pick in 2024.
Most likely, Smith is still back as the starter next year, and Lock signs elsewhere. He probably still will be a backup wherever he goes, but he likely will be making more money. Seattle will probably choose a player other than a quarterback in the first round, but maybe get one in the third round. At some point, however, Seattle needs to be a lot more aggressive in trying to get a long-term quarterback because a good quarterback is the difference between a mediocre team and one capable of making a long run in the playoffs.
We do not know that either Smith or Lock are capable of getting the Seahawks deep in the postseason, even if the roster around them is better. But we also do not know that Smith is really that much better than Lock. We only know Smith is more expensive. Heading into 2024, with the quarterbacks seemingly be equal, Seattle should save some money by releasing Smith, letting Lock rock at QB1, and hope the defense plays consistently better.