The Seahawks QB made more money in 2023 than his first 10 years combined
Last week, an NFL general manager was pondering the 2022 free agency and trade period when he was asked a question about the league’s most impactful moves.
“What do you think was the best quarterback move in terms of signing or trading?” he asked.
I took a moment to think, running a finger down a list of AFC and NFC teams. It didn’t take long to realize that the offseason of quarterback movement was more of a wasteland than I thought it would be a few months ago.
“You’ll know it when you see it,” said the GM. “I think it’s pretty clear.”
I began to explore the carnage. Deshaun Watson still hasn’t caught on Cleveland Browns and he already has the most amazing contract in NFL history. Matt Ryan and Baker Mayfield Everyone has been through the banks Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers. Mitchell Trubisky was fired Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Kenny Pickett after only four starts. The Washington commanders He put Carson Wentz on injured reserve with a finger problem and now seems reluctant to get the starting job back. Marcus Mariota It has been a solid bridge Atlanta Falconsand Russell Wilsonwell, we don’t even need to get into that mess.
That really left a boy. Gene Smith
“Yes,” replied the GM. “That’s mine. He was signed in the offseason to compete as a starter again, so that counts.”
Geno Smith’s 2023 Salary Range: $23.8M vs $38.4M?
Pound for pound, there’s little question. Seattle signed Smith to a one-year deal with a base salary of $3.5 million and incentives that could increase his earnings to $7 million. In return, the Seahawks have gotten a breakout season from the 32-year-old, who you’d have to go all the way back to Rich Gannon’s signing with the Oakland Raiders in 1999 to find a player who blossomed so unexpectedly late. stage in his career.
In 10 games, Smith has led the Seahawks to a 6-4 record and first place in the NFC West. And he’s done it with a remarkable 17-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a league-leading 72.8 percent completion rate.
He’s proven to easily adapt to the downfield passing options on the roster and is running a scheme that doesn’t constantly rely on dink-and-dunk plays that can be deceptive in stats. In fact, everything Smith has done so far looks like the stuff of a seasoned veteran quarterback who should be competing for postseason victories.
With seven games left, it is Arguably one of the best stories in the NFL. And soon, Smith’s future will be one of the most watched contract negotiations, too. As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters last week, “[T]here is an upcoming interview. We understand that.”
At this point, only an implosion can stand in the way of the Seahawks and Smith getting a long-term contract out of it. Barring that, Seattle has some difficult math to do. Consider how Smith’s value is being estimated by the internet’s most expert contract/salary cap sites, spotrac.com and OverTheCap.com. Note the chasm.
In a calculation that measures a player’s performance and value compared to peers at his position, OverTheCap estimated Smith entered the Seahawks’ week at a cap hit of $38.4 million in 2022 salary. Basically, he deserves the salary of the 10th best quarterback in the NFL. Now compare that to Spotrac’s 2023 market value analysis, which essentially uses an algorithm that considers three years of performance rather than 2022. Using a weighted three-year window, Spotrac estimates the average salary for Smith’s next deal to be around $23.8. million
That Spotrac figure will increase as Smith finishes 2022 (the third year of the analysis). That’s still a significant chunk, nearly $15 million, between the estimated 2022 value and the weighted value over a longer period. Even more interesting is the number that splits the difference in half: $31.1 million.
That midpoint is notable as the franchise tag for the quarterback position in 2023 is expected to be around $31.5 million. That’s when NFL general managers believe Smith’s contract talks will begin next season. The sum is staggering considering Smith’s total NFL earnings over his first 10 years (depending on the incentives he gets this season) fall between $14 million and $17 million. Basically, if 2022 ends like it started, Smith’s 2023 salary will likely be double what he made in the previous decade… combined.
Smith seems to fit the bill in Seattle, which takes some of the leverage away
That’s a realistic goal, according to five GMs and three agents who spoke to Yahoo Sports about a similar negotiation.
“I think $30 [million] $35 million a season is about right,” one general manager said. “Although I wouldn’t be surprised if they used that franchise tag to secure one more year.”
“He’s playing like a top-10 quarterback,” another general manager said. “Maybe even a little better than that. The danger is that it happens later in his career and that there is not much history there. But he has also been [in Seattle] for a few years, so it’s not like his skill set is a mystery to anyone out there. And he’s showing that he can take it to the field, so their comfort level is probably going to be better than anybody else’s.”
Leaning in on that point, an agent who has negotiated high-profile quarterback contracts added, “His value is greatest with Seattle. He’s been there and he’s a leader who fits the culture of what they do. I honestly don’t know if anyone else would be ready to do what Seattle is going to do.” to pay for it. It’s worth more in Seattle because it’s already been proven to work there.”
That will eventually be the case for Smith. With a deep rookie quarterback class and the recent trend of some veteran quarterbacks being available in trades — not to mention his age — free agency for him probably wouldn’t be the bonanza it once was. Kirk Cousins He returned in 2018. Although Cousins was 30 years old, he had a longer track record and more than a few desperate teams lined up in free agency.
It’s hard to know what Smith will ultimately be worth in terms of commitment, but it’s shaping up to be a lot for Seattle. The question is how long the Seahawks last this peak performance and how quickly the franchise bounces back in a Super Bowl window. Not to mention adding another significant quarterback contract to the team’s rebuild almost as quickly as Russell Wilson’s final season was taken away.
But one thing is clear: the Seahawks can get it by any means necessary. Whether it looks like a one-year deal with a franchise tag or a multi-year deal that Smith figures out behind center at the end of the decade, they’ll have more than $50 million in salary cap space to make it happen.
Both approaches will take a bite out of the maneuvering season. But given how Smith has played, it’s better than looking at another quarterback hole and wondering how long it will take to fix it.
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