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Geno Smith finished 2022 in elite company, but future could be brighter

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason is underway for 30 of 32 NFL teams, with just the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII left to play out. With that being the case, teams are now turning their attention towards free agency and the draft, and it won’t be too long before teams are at the 2023 NFL Combine scouring for talent among college players.

For the Seattle Seahawks the biggest offseason question mark is, for the second consecutive year, at the most important position on the field. Last season the Hawks needed to figure out whether Geno Smith or Drew Lock was the better option to replace Russell Wilson, while this time around it’s a matter of figuring out whether to retain Smith or start all over once again. The debate is already raging among Seattle fans whether or not Geno’s on field performance warrants a payday commensurate with what top quarterbacks earn, and that’s a debate that will continue well past March when the Seahawks are likely to apply the franchise tag.

However, what cannot be debated is that Smith finished the 2022 season having played the best football of his career. However, it wasn’t just some of the best football of his career, his prolific passing put him in elite company.

Now, that leads to the question of whether 2022 will be the peak in terms of performance for Smith, or whether he can continue to produce at the same - or potentially even higher - levels.

The quarterback position being what it is, it is a position that requires a minimum physical skillset and from that point becomes about the mental abilities of the individual playing. Tom Brady didn’t win a half dozen Super Bowls by being the fastest or having the strongest arm. Peyton Manning didn’t ride the defense of the 2015 Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl using anything other than experience and guile.

Now, it’s certainly true that Geno will turn 33 early in the 2023 season, but in spite of his age, Smith remains relatively green in terms of on field experience. Comparing where Smith falls relative to some of the other quarterbacks who could also hit the free agent market in terms of playing time.

This is, of course, important to the discussion in terms of attempting to discern whether or not Smith may have peaked, or whether his performance in the future could continue to improve. Smith falls into roughly the same experience group as Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold and Mitch Trubisky, though obviously won’t be seen by the market in a similar light. Jones came on strong in the second half of 2022 for the New York Giants under new head coach Brian Daboll, and Sam Darnold finished the year well for the Carolina Panthers. Meanwhile Marcus Mariota is expected by most to be a cap casualty after losing his job as starter for the Atlanta Falcons and Baker Mayfield appears set to hit free agency to look for his fourth team in less than a year after having been with the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams this season.

In any case, Geno’s age has reached the point where quarterback aging curves starts to become very relevant, while his placement on the development curve gives him continued upside potential for the future. Just another item to consider as the Seahawks ponder the possibility of a new quarterback under center for the third straight season in 2023.