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Who to pay attention to in the Geno Smith negotiations

Knowing whose reports to look for can be more important than the updates themselves

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Combine gets underway in Indianapolis Tuesday, and for fans of the Seattle Seahawks that means a chance to hear from head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider during their media availability. Of course, everything that anyone associated with any team or any report from an agent this time of year has to be taken with a grain of salt, as it’s the season for creating smokescreens regarding intentions, desires and most of all setting negotiating points.

So, with that said, what, or who, should Seattle fans be paying attention to during the combine? Obviously, the biggest question for the Hawks to address in the coming weeks is at quarterback, with both Geno Smith and Drew Lock set to be unrestricted free agents when the new league year starts at 4:00 pm New York time on Wednesday, March 15.

Obviously any reports regarding the Seahawks meeting with quarterbacks are noteworthy, and it will not be a surprise at all to see Schneider and Carroll in attendance when the big name quarterbacks take to the field for their throwing sessions. The big names who have indicated they will throw include C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis, while Bryce Young and Hendon Hooker are not expected to.

Of course, the Combine is also where free agent and trade negotiations truly get fired up. Thus, for soon to be free agent Geno Smith that means his agent, Chafie Fields, will be exploring which teams might have interest in Smith, and whether the market will be strong enough to force Seattle to apply the franchise tag.

On that note, when it comes to negotiations surrounding bigger contracts, both sides always have their preferred mouthpieces in the media to use. For example, it was no secret that Colin Cowherd often acted as a mouthpiece for Russell Wilson and/or his agent Mark Rodgers during the years long power struggle between Wilson and the team. That said, with this being the first big time negotiation between the Seahawks and Smith, who should fans be paying attention to for updates on where things stand?

The best way to answer that is to look back at some of the bigger contracts that Fields has negotiated for his clients and to see who was the first with the news of those contracts. Thus, some of the most recognizable names that Fields represents are as follows:

  • WR Amari Cooper
  • S Minkah Fitzpatrick
  • LT Cam Robinson
  • CB Carlton Davis

With those four all represented by the same agent it makes sense to look back at when things have gone down with their current contracts to see if their are any common threads.

The logical starting point is to see who broke the news of the contract Smith signed in the spring of 2022, and that was Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Moving next to when the Dallas Cowboys made Amari Cooper the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL in 2021, here’s who was on top of the situation from the get go and then eventually broke the news when the two sides agreed to terms.

And then when Minkah Fitzpatrick displaced Jamal Adams as the highest paid safety in the NFL, the first report of the agreement.

And looking at when the Jacksonville Jaguars applied the franchise tag to Cam Robinson in 2021.

And then when the Jags applied the franchise tag to Robinson a second time in 2022, and then subsequently agreed to a multi-year deal.

At this point it shouldn’t really come as a surprise regarding who was first to report the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had agreed to a contract with cornerback Carlton Davis in the spring of 2022.

In short, over the next week there will be a lot of rumors and reports regarding late night dinners between executives and agents, along with allegations of interest from teams who might be interested in securing the quarterbacking services of Geno Smith for the 2023 season. With all that in mind, the biggest voice to pay attention to when it comes to the Smith contract negotiations is that of NFL insider Ian Rapoport, because if he provides an update on the situation, it would appear likely that he’s getting that update straight from Smith’s agent, and that makes it worth listening to.

Of course, for those who may have missed it, in early February Rapoport laid out where things are likely headed, and since then it’s just been a matter of hammering out details acceptable to both sides.