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What’s next for Geno Smith? Contract, pending free agency come into focus as Seahawks QB stars in 2022

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When the Seahawks decided to trade quarterback Russell Wilson to the Broncos, many wondered what they would do at quarterback. They had acquired Drew Lock as part of the Wilson trade, but he and Geno Smith were the only quarterbacks on the Seattle roster at the time.

Surely the Seahawks would swing for a candidate with more upside than those two, right?

Nope. Seattle opted to stand pat at the position and let the two fight for the starting job. And when Smith ended up winning it, everyone expected the Seahawks to struggle.

Smith had been a starter during his early days with the Jets, but since then, he had turned into a career backup. At age 32, few expected that he would fare well as a starter, especially after posting a 1-2 record while Wilson missed three weeks in 2021.

MORE: Geno Smith explains why seven years as backup helped him find success

However, Smith has shocked the NFL world in 2022. He has been one of the league’s top starting quarterbacks to date, and the Seahawks are in line to make the playoffs in part because of his performance.

Certainly, Smith has proven that he belongs as a starter with his terrific season. And provided that he doesn’t regress in the latter half of the season, he is poised to profit immensely from his big year.

Smith will be a free agent after the 2022 NFL season, and given his performance, he should draw a lot of interest if he hits the open market. Of course, the Seahawks could also try to re-sign him to a lucrative extension or slap him with the franchise tag.

Either way, Smith is set to earn a big raise during the 2023 NFL offseason, one that could put his current contract with Seattle to shame.

Geno Smith contract 2022

Smith is currently playing on a one-year contract with the Seahawks. He signed it during the 2022 NFL offseason and it is worth up to $3.5 million.

Smith’s contract features a lower base salary and plenty of incentives. This included a Week 1 bonus of $585,000 and a per-game bonus of $65,000 for being active. All of those payments count toward his total roster bonus.

Below is a full breakdown of Smith’s contract for 2023, per Spotrac.com:

Category Total
Base salary $1,260,000
Signing bonus $500,000
Roster bonus $1,690,000
Workout bonus $50,000
Cap hit $3,500,000

MORE: Pete Carroll takes subtle shot at Russell Wilson in praise of Geno Smith

Geno Smith career earnings

Smith’s career earnings are relatively light compared to those of other veteran quarterbacks across the NFL.

Because he was a second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Smith made just about $5 million on his rookie contract with the Jets. Since he didn’t earn a starting job, he had to settle for backup money in each of his next three stops.

Smith has been in Seattle for five years now, and most of his career earnings have come from his role with the Seahawks. Below is a breakdown of his earnings by team:

Team Years Earnings
Jets 4 $5,028,578
Giants 1 $1,187,500
Chargers 1 $1,000,000
Seahawks 4 $6,730,000
Total 10 $13,946,078

And below is a breakdown of how much Smith earned on a yearly basis dating back to his rookie season with the Jets:

Year Earnings
2013 $2,435,620
2014 $633,164
2015 $870,303
2016 $1,089,491
2017 $1,187,500
2018 $1,000,000
2019 $830,000
2020 $1,187,500
2021 $1,212,500
2022 $3,500,000
Total $13,946,078

So, Smith is close to having earned $14 million during his career and has made about $1.395 million per season during his career. That’s certainly not bad, but he could be in for an enormous raise given how he has played in 2022.

Geno Smith

Geno Smith stats 2022

Through the midpoint of the season, Smith has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL. Entering Seattle’s Week 10 game against the Buccaneers in Germany, Smith had the best completion percentage in the NFL and ranked top-five in both passer rating and QBR.

Just how good has Smith been? Here’s a look at his stats and how he compares to other qualified passers across the NFL.

Stat Total Rank
Comp. % 73.1 1st
Passing yards 2,199 6th
Pass TDs 15 T-5th
INTs 4 T-24th
Yards per attempt 7.8 T-6th
Passer rating 107.2 3rd
QBR 68 4th

When looking at these numbers, it’s easy to understand why Smith has been getting so much buzz. He might not be a legitimate MVP candidate, but his name has been bandied about in discussion as a player that could warrant consideration because of his performance.

Certainly, that’s impressive given that Smith was widely expected to be among the worst starters league-wide in Week 1. And as mentioned, his performance will give him an opportunity to significantly increase his contract value in 2023 free agency.

MORE: Dan Orlovsky explains why he believes Geno Smith can win MVP

Geno Smith contract projection

Smith probably isn’t going to get one of the richest quarterback deals given that his success has only come over the course of one year. Any team interested in him will be sure to protect itself in case he proves to be just a flash in the pan, so that could cap his ceiling.

Still, he will be able to get a deal much larger than what he received in 2022.

Only three players entered the 2022 NFL season as Week 1 starters on non-rookie deals that were worth less than $10 million in average annual value (AAV): Smith, Mitch Trubisky and Marcus Mariota.

And of those three, Smith’s was the lowest-valued contract by a wide margin.

Player Contract AAV
Marcus Mariota (Falcons) $9,375,000
Mitch Trubisky (Steelers) $7,412,500
Geno Smith (Seahawks) $3,500,000

That said, the question is about how significant a raise Smith will get, as the NFL’s middle class of NFL quarterbacks has largely eroded. There is only one player on a non-rookie contract that is worth between $10 million and $25 million in AAV. That is Saints quarterback Jameis Winston ($14 million).

In all likelihood, Smith’s value probably falls somewhere in that range. He certainly deserves to make eight figures with how he has played, but it seems unlikely a team would be willing to pay him $25 million in AAV after one strong season.

As such, it may make sense for Smith to sign a deal similar to that of Winston. The Saints’ Week 1 starter inked a two-year deal worth $28 million to compete for the team’s starting job, and that was viewed as a fair price. The deal didn’t lowball Winston, but it also didn’t hamstring New Orleans long-term if he turned out not to be the answer at quarterback.

If Smith did a carbon copy of Winston’s deal with the Saints, it would look something like this, per OverTheCap.com:

  • Length: Two years
  • Total value: $28 million
  • AAV: $14 million
  • Guaranteed: $21 million (75 percent)

Winston, 28, was a bit younger than Smith when he signed that deal, but that type of short-term structure could work for Smith. He could cash in, triple his career earnings and then see if he can land one more top-dollar contract before his career ends.

Still, that could be an underpay for Smith if he continues to be a top-five or even top-10 quarterback league-wide as the season continues. As such, perhaps the three-year, $63 million contract that Teddy Bridgewater signed with the Panthers in 2020 would be a better estimation of Smith’s value.

Below is what Bridgewater’s contract was worth, per Spotrac.com:

  • Length: Three years
  • Total value: $63 million
  • AAV: $21 million
  • Guaranteed: $33 million (52.4 percent)

It’s tough to say what exactly Smith will get given the NFL’s lack of a middle class of quarterbacks. It all depends on whether he is looking to get as much money as possible now or whether he is willing to take a chance on a shorter deal in the hopes of getting a more lucrative contract down the line.

Either way, he should probably get a deal within the $15 million to $20 million per year range.

Pete Carroll, Geno Smith

Will the Seahawks re-sign Geno Smith?

It’s hard to imagine a situation in which the Seahawks wouldn’t want to re-sign Smith given how good he has been. Pete Carroll has repeatedly sung his praises as well, so it seems like Seattle will try to keep him.

Smith is set to be an unrestricted free agent, so the Seahawks won’t have much recourse with him if he tries to test the open market. They could slap him with the franchise tag, but given that the franchise tag value for a quarterback in 2022 was more than $29.7 million and stands to rise in 2023, it seems unlikely.

As such, there should be momentum between the two sides to strike a mutually beneficial deal. The Seahawks can give Smith a contract that helps him significantly increase his career earnings while also giving them a discount at the most important position on the field.

And while Smith might like to hit free agency, he may jump at the opportunity to lock in a deal that will vastly improve his bottom line. So, if the Seahawks give him a deal with $20 million-plus in guarantees, that may be too tough for Smith to turn down, especially since he has fared so well within Seattle’s system.

Soon enough we’ll see what the Seahawks have in store for him as his high-end play continues in 2022.


Credit: sportingnews.com

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