As the calendar turns to March, and with teams and prospects in Indianapolis for the 2023 NFL Combine, whether or not the Seattle Seahawks will retain the services of quarterback Geno Smith remains one of the top questions. Seattle fans have debated back and forth regarding whether or not the team can field a competitive roster if it agrees to a market rate contract with Smith, and the franchise tag deadline looms in less than a week.
So, the question remains whether or not the Seahawks will extend Geno, giving him a payday potentially in the ballpark of the Russell Wilson contract they unloaded last offseason. At the end of the day, it’s certainly possible for a team to compete while paying a franchise quarterback, but it typically requires the quarterback to be one of the all time greats, like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Patrick Mahomes, or to have a top flight defense.
Most fans would agree that Smith certainly isn’t on the same level as a Brady or Mahomes, and while improvement would not be a surprise given the limited amount of playing time he has accumulated to this point in his career, even the most optimistic of fans don’t expect him to ascend into the elite tier in the coming seasons. That, of course, would appear to leave the competiveness in the hands of a defense that hasn’t been all that competitive in recent seasons.
As fans well know, the Seahawks sported the top scoring defense in the NFL four seasons in a row, with that streak ending in 2016 when Kris Richard’s unit finished third in points allowed. Here’s how the Seattle defense has finished in the six seasons since then:
- 2017: 13th
- 2018: 11th
- 2019: 22nd
- 2020: 15th
- 2021: 11th
- 2022: 25th
That’s certainly not a trend that would appear to be moving in the right direction, which leads to the question of what kind of defensive performance can be expected of the Seahawks in 2023. That’s a question that is difficult to answer, given how likely it is for there to be a significant number of new names and faces in the unit, particularly in the front seven.
However, regardless of the performance one expects from the Seattle defense this season, the reality is that whether or not the Seahawks defense can perform at a level that allows to the team to compete with Smith on a contract that pays him $32M or $35M per year is not as relevant to the discussion of whether to sign Geno to such a deal. In reality, the truth of the matter is that whether the defense can or cannot perform at a level that makes the team competitive while paying market rate for a quarterback is not important.
What is important is whether or not Pete Carroll believes he can assemble a defense that can perform at a level that allows the team to be competitive while paying Smith. And the answer to that question - in spite the fact that the Seahawks have failed to field a top ten scoring defense for six straight season - undoubtedly has to be ‘yes’. There is no world in which Carroll does not see himself as able to assemble and lead a defensive group that performs at or near the top of the league. With that being the case, any argument that Seattle cannot compete while paying a quarterback top of market money becomes irrelevant because Carroll most certainly believes he can return to Seahawks defense to greatness.
Thus, stripping away all the noise and boiling the situation down to the core, the only relevant question when it comes to whether the Seahawks believe they can be competitive while paying Geno Smith market rate is whether Carroll believes he can coach up a top tier defense. With there being zero doubt regarding the answer to that question, there becomes zero doubt that Carroll believes he can field a competitive team while paying Smith market rate, and the end result, therefore, is that it would seem likely to only be a matter of time before the two sides announce a contract.
Because regardless of whether or not fans and observers think the Seahawks can field a top flight defense, Pete Carroll most certainly does, and his is the only opinion that matters.