For those of us who are used to the Seattle Seahawks holding their cards close to their chest, the past few days have been a whirlwind of public information - on the team’s Twitter account, no less - that seems to show old dogs learning new tricks:
On Wednesday, the Seahawks sent roughly half the front office to Ohio State’s Pro Day to take a selfie with C.J. Stroud . . .
Meeting of the minds. pic.twitter.com/odlysE3Shf— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) March 23, 2023
They followed that up by taking a selfie with Bryce Young at Alabama’s Pro Day on Thursday . . .
The Young and the restless pic.twitter.com/mBJo8ZDPtR— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) March 23, 2023
The team concluded a busy week by hitting a selfie trifecta with Will Levis at Kentucky’s Pro Day on Friday . . .
Just a couple cats. pic.twitter.com/LcLHyu5kPP— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) March 24, 2023
Presumably, they’ll complete the 2023 Top-4 Quarterback set by taking a selfie with Anthony Richardson at Florida’s Pro Day on March 30th.
Given their public displays of affection with the top QBs in this year’s class, it seems like a good time to have a
candid Frank discussion about the pros and cons of Seattle selecting a quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Before we dive in, let me first note that most, if not all, of the main points in this article can be used to support the idea of drafting a quarterback or NOT drafting a quarterback, depending on your point of view.
Let me also state that, for the most part, the focus of the article is not any specific quarterback, any specific pick, or any specific combination of quarterback and pick. That doesn’t, however, mean that we can’t / shouldn’t / won’t focus on specific QBs, picks, or combinations of QBs and picks in the comments.
Let’s begin . . .
The Seahawks are “totally connected to the quarterbacks” in this year’s draft class.
That’s a direct quote from Head Coach Pete Carroll, as reported by Seahawks.com on February 28th.
Here’s the full quote, from the article:
“We are totally connected to the quarterbacks that are coming out,” Carroll said. “This is a really huge opportunity for us. It’s a rare opportunity. We’ve been drafting in the low 20s for such a long time you just don’t get the chance at these guys. We are deeply involved with all that.”
Quarterbacks “don’t grow on trees.”
From the same article as the Carroll quote, above, General Manager John Schneider stated the obvious.
. . . the Seahawks would consider a quarterback in the first round, even after signing Smith, “Because they don’t grow on trees. It’s very hard. It’s probably the hardest position to acquire a talent, a guy that everybody feels very confident in.”
The Seahawks’ position is further elaborated in the follow-up paragraph:
In other words, it’s really difficult to find elite quarterbacks in the NFL, and it’s even harder if, as has been the case for the Seahawks, you almost never pick near the top of the first round. But thanks to the trade that sent Russell Wilson to Denver, the Seahawks have a Top 5 pick for the first time under Carroll and Schneider, so if they really think a quarterback is worth(y) of that pick, they’d strongly consider it . . .
Quarterback is the most premium of ‘premium’ positions.
Clichés are clichés for a reason, and (especially when it comes to sports clichés) that reason is usually because they’re true.
An obvious extension of this particular cliché is that premium picks, like the #5 overall selection in this year’s draft, should be used on premium positions.
QB isn’t the only ‘premium’ position though.
And using a premium pick on a player is only one of the ways a team can use a premium pick.
Seattle might be better off trading their premium pick(s).
Depending on how the first four picks play out, the R1 that Seattle got from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade might be worth a king’s ransom to one of the teams selecting behind them.
Given the current regime’s history, the 20th overall pick is certainly in play - assuming they find an offer they like and feel that they’ll still be able to get a player they’re targeting a little bit later.
Trading picks on Day 2 and/or Day 3 is also an option, obviously, but it’s the earlier picks - especially #5 - that bring the “exciting” returns, including, possibly, a future R1.
Geno Smith is signed through 2025.
While Geno Smith’s contract was initially reported as a 3-year, $105M deal that included $52M in the first year, the reality is that it’s a 3-year, $75M deal with incentive escalators that reward him for proving that his 2022 performance wasn’t a fluke.
Geno’s contract has $27.3M in fully guaranteed money, comprised of his $26.1M signing bonus and $1.2M base salary in 2023.
It’s worth noting that the franchise tag for quarterbacks was $32,416,000 this year which means Geno is earning about $5.1M less in 2023 than he would have if Seattle had tagged him.
Looking past 2023, both OverTheCap and Spotrac show that Geno’s $12.7M base salary in 2024 was guaranteed against injury at signing and becomes fully guaranteed on the 5th day of the 2024 waiver period - i.e., the 5th business day after the Super Bowl, which means February 16th, 2024.
In addition, Geno has a 2024 roster bonus of $9.6M that becomes guaranteed on the 5th day of the 2024 league year, and a $10M roster bonus for the 2025 season that becomes guaranteed on the 5th day of the 2025 league year.
However, when taking everything into account, a healthy Geno Smith who FAILED to “prove it” in 2023, could be released right after the Super Bowl and his contract would end up only costing the Seahawks $27.3M - with a $10.1M cap hit in 2023 and $17.2M in dead money charged to the 2024 salary cap.
Let’s be optimistic though . . .
Let’s assume that Geno balls out in 2023 and is QB1 heading into training camp in 2024.
As is, his 2024 salary cap hit would be $31.2M, bringing his 2-year total to $50M ($10.1M in 2023 + $31.2M in 2024 + $8.7M in dead money for 2025), which would give him a 2-year APY of $25M - good for #15 league-wide ($750k ahead of Jimmy G, but $4.5M behind Ryan Tannehill).
However, as noted earlier, there are up to $30M in incentive escalators in Geno’s contract. These escalators allow him to increase his base salary in 2024 and 2025 by up to $15M per year. Details are as follows:
- $2M for matching or exceeding his 2022 passing yards (4,282)
- $2M for matching or exceeding his 2022 passing touchdowns (30)
- $2M for matching or exceeding his 2022 completion percentage (69.755%)
- $2M for matching or exceeding his 2022 passer rating (100.874)
- $2M for playing at least 80% of the team’s offensive snaps and notching at least 10 wins and getting the team into the playoffs
- $5M if all 5 of the above incentives are realized
Since we’re being optimistic, let’s assume that Geno has a better season in 2023 than he did in 2022 and maxes out his incentive escalators for the 2024 season.
That would bump his 2024 cap hit to $46.2M and make his 2-year payout $65M, which is an APY of $32.5M.
That $7.5M increase in the 2-year APY of Geno’s contract would move him up from #15 league-wide to . . . #13 ($84k ahead of the franchise-tagged Lamar Jackson, and $1M behind Jared Goff).
Bottom line: Geno’s contract is both very affordable and very easy to get out of, whether or not he “proves it” this year (and/or in 2024).
Drew Lock is being paid $4M to be QB2 this year.
Our own John P. Gilbert broke down the Drew Lock contract on March 20th.
* $1.75M signing bonus
* $1.74M base salary
* $510k in per game roster bonuses
It’s important to note that only the signing bonus is guaranteed.
Thus, if the Seahawks bring in a quarterback to compete for the QB2 position, either through the draft or free agency, the cost for releasing Lock, were he to lose said competition, is “only” $1.75M (which equates to roughly 0.778% of the $224.8M salary cap).
There is, of course, also the possibility of keeping Drew Lock and whoever else is added to the QB room during the offseason.
But . . .
Teams don’t usually carry three QBs on the active roster.
I have seen/heard this
argument statement a number of times since Drew Lock’s contract agreement was announced.
Is it true though?
One article that I found from August 31st, 2022, said that 13 of the NFL’s 32 teams kept 3 quarterbacks when making their final roster cuts:
- AFC: 7 teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and New York Jets
- NFC: 6 teams - the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Washington Commanders
Note: I have no clue who the 7th AFC team was; the article only listed 6.
Amusingly, the 49ers were one of the 13 teams that had 3 QBs on their initial roster . . . I bet they wish they had maintained that approach through the NFC Championship Game.
The Seahawks would be spending $20M on QBs if they select one at #5.
As we’ve already noted, Geno Smith’s 2023 cap hit is $10.1M and Drew Lock’s, if he makes the team, is $4M.
What we haven’t discussed is how much the #5 pick will make.
Here’s the full breakdown:
- 4-year value of rookie contract = $34,010,478
- Signing bonus = $21,734,982
- 2023 cap hit = $6,183,723
- 2024 cap hit = $7,729,654
- 2025 cap hit = $9,275,585
- 2026 cap hit = $10,821,516
Add it all up and you get a total of $20,283,723 against the Seahawks 2023 salary cap IF the Seahawks draft a QB with the 5th overall pick and have 3 QBs on the active roster come Week 1.
Note: Seattle used $30,951,022 of cap space on QBs in 2022: $26M for RW3, $3.5M for Geno Smith, and $1,451,022 for Drew Lock.
A bird in the hand . . .
Seattle has the good fortune of having a Top-5 draft pick, not because they stunk up the joint last season, but because the Denver Broncos did.
The Seahawks have a Top-10 quarterback under contract on a team-friendly deal because, well . . . karma. The team believed in Geno and he “rewarded” them. Twice. Once with his performance, and then with the contract he agreed to.
In both cases, one might argue that Seattle’s current good fortune is “a bird in the hand”.
Could Seattle land a “better” bird by reaching for the proverbial bush?
But at what cost?
Draft picks are lottery tickets / it’s all just a crapshoot
I prefer the term “educated guesses,” but . . .
Have fun with this one.
And, Go Hawks!
To the extent possible, I tried to keep my opinion out of this article and focus instead on “talking points”; things we can use to start conversations.
I wasn’t completely successful, but I did TRY.
I believe the Seahawks should (and will) select a quarterback in this year’s draft, and I’ll throw my thoughts and preferences on the table:
- At #5, I feel that either CJ Stroud or Anthony Richardson would be good picks for the Seahawks, but I would pass on both Bryce Young (probably) and Will Levis (definitely).
- I think Hendon Hooker makes sense on Day 2 - preferably in Round 3 since he’s only 14 months younger than Drew Lock and could be rehabbing an ACL injury during the upcoming season - or not (per Ian Rapoport, Hooker is “on track to be ready for the season opener”).
- Jake Haener (a former Husky, woof-woof!) seems like a viable option on Day 3 . . . with one of our two R5s, perhaps?
- In Round 6 or 7, I think John and Pete might consider 2-time national champion Stetson Bennett or UCLA’s DTR (Dorian Thompson-Robinson) to ensure that we get one of them on the roster. If not, I’d expect that we’ll reach out to them the moment the draft closes and (try to) sign them as UDFAs.
And that’s it! I’m not really interested in any other QBs in this year’s draft, and I’m not in favor of punting the decision to next year’s draft.