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Geno, Drew, or someone new? Looking at Seahawks options at quarterback in 2023 (and beyond)

The big decision for the Seahawks this offseason is at quarterback.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Raise your hand if, after hearing that Russell Wilson had been traded to the Denver Broncos, you thought the Seattle Seahawks would have this much quarterback intrigue as the 2023 league year approached.

I mean, who honestly believed that we would be talking about maybe using the franchise tag on Geno “I ain’t write back” Smith and/or about giving him a multiyear contract that will undoubtedly have a signing bonus that exceeds his career earnings?

Heck, I was optimistic when Seattle shipped RW3 out of town, but even I was not optimistic enough to think then that we’d be here now.

And yet we are.

As I see it, Seattle has three options for their starting quarterback in 2023: Geno, Drew, or someone new. Technically, Pete Carroll and John Schneider could drag up someone with a prior connection (ex. Sean Mannion), but that seems unlikely.

Let’s start with the incumbent / frontrunner . . .

Geno Smith

Most of the focus this offseason for the Seahawks (and their fans) has been on Geno Smith and his pending free agency.

Publicly, both John Schneider and Pete Carroll have said that re-signing Geno is the priority and there’s no reason to think they’re blowing smoke up our collective arses.

It is widely speculated that re-signing Geno will cost the Seahawks $30M to $35M a year on a multiyear contract.

Using the franchise tag, with its $32,416,000 instant cap hit, is also an option - at least theoretically (figuring out how to actually fit $32M onto the cap is a lot more challenging than you might expect).

Given Pete’s approach to roster building - especially as he (presumably) nears the end of his head coaching career, it’s easy to believe that his preference for Seattle’s starting quarterback in 2023 is Geno Smith.

Of course, it takes two to tango, and the money has to make sense.

Publicly, Geno Smith has said he wants to return to Seattle - which is both nice and expected. I mean, it’s not like he’d say, “Pete’s holding me back and I’m going to leave if you don’t fire him!” - not after the year he just had.

Which means that Geno’s return comes down to money.

Big surprise!

The question is whether his agent (Chafie Fields) and Seattle’s front office will reach agreement on a multiyear deal before the legal tampering period opens on March 13th. If not, will Seattle use the franchise tag to keep Geno (decision due by March 7th) or let him test free agency?

That third option, letting him test free agency, would appear to be the least likely.

But is it?

If I’m Geno’s agent, I want him to reach unrestricted free agency. Seriously. Unless the Seahawks are willing to overpay for Geno’s services, I want to be able to speak with other teams and sell them on the opportunity they have to sign the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year who also happens to be the QB who led the league in accuracy last season.

Sure, there’s a chance that no one outside of Seattle is interested. And, sure, there’s a chance that those who are interested don’t value Geno as highly as the Seahawks do. But, if I’m Chafie Fields, my money would be on both of those being pretty small chances.

From Geno’s perspective, you’ve got the familiarity of Seattle contrasted against the opportunity to show the world that it was YOU that drove the Seahawks’ unexpected playoff appearance last year, not Shane Waldron’s system.

Plus, if the money is fairly equal, maybe it comes down to which team would give Geno the best opportunity to compete for a championship. Is that Seattle? Or is it someone else, like maybe the New York Jets?

And if the answer is that none of the interested teams are likely to be Super Bowl contenders, maybe the decision comes down to sun and surf (i.e., Tampa Bay) over wind and rain.

Bottom line: There’s a risk to letting Geno test free agency, but don’t be overly surprised if that’s exactly what happens if Geno and his agent think he’s worth more than the Seahawks are willing to pay.

Drew Lock

In theory, Drew Lock is “the next man up” if Seattle doesn’t re-sign (or tag) Geno Smith.

I say, “in theory” because, like Geno Smith, Drew Lock is slated to be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts.

That said, John Schneider has publicly stated that he wants to re-sign Drew (and Geno), and both John and Pete have sung Drew’s praises every opportunity they get - including some opportunities they generated themselves by segueing to the topic of Drew from seemingly nowhere.

Do they believe that Drew could start for the Seahawks in 2023? Probably.

Do the 12s believe that? Probably not.

And yet . . .

Were it not for Drew missing his scheduled start against the Chicago Bears in the 2nd game of the 2022 preseason, there’s a chance that he might have overtaken Geno Smith and been the Seahawks’ starting QB last season.

As is, Lock is certain to be a lot less expensive than Geno Smith. In fact, I’m thinking he might be about 1/10th the cost.

Last offseason, Seattle gave Geno Smith a 1-year contract that paid him $3.5M and gave him an opportunity to earn another $3.5M in incentives. Meanwhile, Drew Lock earned $1,351,022 in base salary + $100,000 from a workout bonus (total: $1,451,022).

Who else thinks that Drew would be willing to sign the same exact contract that the Seahawks gave Geno Smith last offseason IF Drew thought he’d have a legitimate shot at earning the starting role?

Also, count me in the (presumably pretty small) camp that thinks Drew Lock would do pretty well in Shane Waldron’s system if he were, in fact, Seattle’s starting quarterback in 2023.

You can stop laughing now; I am an optimist after all.

Someone New

As scary as the idea of Drew Lock being Seattle’s starting quarterback in 2023 might be to some (most) of the 12s, the idea of someone new being the starting quarterback is much scarier to me.

The reasons are multiple:

  • They won’t already know the system
  • They won’t have chemistry with our offensive stars
  • They won’t be able to finish Pete’s sentences
  • They might flat-out SUCK

Fears aside, someone new IS a legitimate option for 2023.

Even if the Seahawks re-sign (or tag) Geno Smith and/or re-sign Drew Lock, they’re going to want/need at least one more quarterback heading into training camp.

And, a la Russell Wilson, there is a chance that the new guy might beat out whoever else is in camp (i.e., Geno and/or Drew).

Heck, there is even a chance that Seattle could have three new quarterbacks in camp if both Geno Smith and Drew Lock end up signing elsewhere.

Names to watch in free agency:

  • Gardner Minshew (I like him so he gets top billing)
  • Jacoby Brissett
  • Mike White
  • Taylor Heinicke

Note: I’m clearly expecting that any free agent QB that we’d sign would be a low-end starter (salary-wise) who would value the opportunity to (maybe) start for Seattle more than they’d value the paycheck(s). Also, if we’re not willing to pay Geno Smith then it probably rules out QBs like Derek Carr and Jimmy G.


Names to watch via trade:

  • Justin Fields
  • Zach Wilson
  • Aaron Rodgers (kidding!)


Names to watch via the draft:

  • Bryce Young (his small frame is concerning but he’ll probably still be a top-3 pick)
  • C.J. Stroud (arguably the safest QB to take at #5 - if he lasts that long)
  • Anthony Richardson (especially if Seattle trades back from #5)
  • Will Levis (I’m not enamored with him but some folks are; mayo in coffee is gross!)
  • Hendon Hooker (on Day 2, and preferably in Round 3)
  • Jake Haener (on Day 3)


Raise your hand if you now understand why the idea of starting someone new at QB in 2023 scares the bejeebers out of me.