Last summer, the Seattle Seahawks made the very undifficult decision to keep Geno Smith over Paxton Lynch.
This summer, they might be looking at someone far more interesting to not ever play a down in the NFL. Though Russell Wilson is seemingly made of titanium, it would be even more questionable than a Pete Carroll 2nd-half timeout to not carry a backup quarterback on the roster.
A rising star and a potential NFL climb
Introducing the XFL player gaining the most traction for a run at 2020 success: P.J. Walker.
Seahawks send scouts to watch Houston Roughnecks QB P.J. Walker https://t.co/Vagfx6Nh68— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 7, 2020
This is not a joke; this is officially beyond speculation. Former Temple University standout PJ Walker has 1338 passing yards - a solid 460 yards ahead of his competition. I know that statement is true because I’ve seen this video and have learned from it. He’s also thrown 15 touchdowns to only four interceptions, and has a 104.4 rating on the five game season. That’s two points shy of what Russell Wilson had to close out the 2019 season.
What’s more important, is he’s the closest thing to early-career Wilson that the Seahawks have been interested in since early-career Wilson.
He’s got great sense of when to take off, and generally has an interest in making at least one defender miss.
He’s also shown great vision in the red zone and ability to find tight windows:
Displaying NFL aptitude: overcoming adversity
Walker started Saturday’s game against the Seattle Dragons rather slowly, as the Houston Roughnecks failed to score for the second time all season.
But he turned it on full-throttle after that. Walker led two successive touchdown drives to close out the half, going 7-7 with a touchdown and a two point conversion.
Late in the third Walker led a lightning quick drive, including more showing off his pretty deep ball.
Houston scores in the blink of an eye. Deep ball to Cam Phillips sets up another touchdown for James Butler.— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) March 7, 2020
The Roughnecks go for 3 and the tie... too high and incomplete!
23-20 Seattle in what feels like the XFL Game of the Year.
For a moment there, it actually looked like both quarterbacks were trying to put on a show for the NFL scouts. Both BJ Daniels and PJ Walker were putting on some ridiculous moves, especially highlighting their pocket escapability.
Just the threat of Daniels being able to run makes the Dragons so much tougher to handle. And he's already proven he's a superior passer to Silvers.— Corbin Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) March 7, 2020
Both also seemed to do what players are oft to do when being hyper-scrutinized, namely, make dumb decisions. Walker had half of his interceptions in this game alone. Credit to what remains a very good Dragons defense, but one of those picks was a very poor decision.
Walker led his Roughneck team to 32 total points and overcame a 14 point deficit, very reminiscent of the type of late-game surge Seattle fans are used to.
Dollars and Sense
Geno Smith signed for $645,000 last season. He’s now an unrestricted free agent. Seattle has no guaranteed quarterbacks besides Russell.
XFL quarterbacks are apparently under a range of contracts, with the highest player being paid $500,000. Enough for every American to have one dollar. Anyway, the rumor is that contract is for Landry Jones, and not PJ Walker. XFL players are currently available to sign NFL contracts immediately following the conclusion of their season.
From a financial and scheme perspective it’s a great fit, low risk idea that the Seahawks have cooking. Walker looks like he’d be able to run the offense in practice better than the previous generation: Smith, Lynch, J.T. Barrett, Brett Hundley, etc. Not just better, but most similar to the Seahawks strengths. He’s demonstrated mobility, care for the football, a great deep ball, and ability to function behind questionably professional offensive linemen.
It’s highly unlikely that this inaugural XFL season will go without seeing at least some players given a shot to compete for a spot on NFL rosters this season. Walker has established himself as one of the most likely candidates, and the scouts showing up for the game confirms the interest.
For an added bonus, he’s even starting to sound like Russell Wilson.
Keep talking that 1-0 mindset, PJ. Make Russ proud.
On the local side of things, the Seattle Dragons have a couple of easier matchups sprinkled between another game against Dallas and Houston apiece. They’ve been separated by one possession in most their games this season, and still hope that the Daniels offense can gel enough to capitalize on their turnover-happy defense.