Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith runs with the ball during the first half of a game against the Los Angeles Rams on Jan. 8 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith runs with the ball during the first half of a game against the Los Angeles Rams on Jan. 8 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Seahawks position overview: Is Smith future at QB in Seattle?

The veteran had a breakout season in 2022, but is 32 years old and a pending free agent.

  • By Bob Condotta The Seattle Times
  • Wednesday, February 1, 2023 2:35pm
  • SportsSeahawks

By Bob Condotta / The Seattle Times

Many top Seattle Seahawks personnel execs, led by general manager John Schneider, headed to Mobile, Alabama, and the Senior Bowl this week as they took the next step toward assembling their 2023 roster.

None of the quarterbacks generally considered likely to go in the first round — notably, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson — will be in Mobile.

Among those who will be there are Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, though he’s coming off a knee injury and won’t do anything on the field, along with players more likely to be mid-round picks such as Fresno State’s Jake Haener, who began his career at Washington.

Regardless, quarterback will be top of mind for the Seahawks throughout the draft and free-agency process until one key question is answered — will Geno Smith return?

In the moments right after the playoff loss to the 49ers, when emotions were still running high, that seemed like a slam dunk, with Smith saying an hour or so after the game that he wanted to finish his career in Seattle and coach Pete Carroll saying “I hope so” about Smith returning.

But once cooler heads prevail, the hard work will begin for each side of coming to an agreement that pays Smith what he feels he’s earned after a breakout season following seven years as a backup and still allows the Seahawks the salary-cap flexibility to address their many other needs.

In other words, is Seattle better off giving Smith a huge deal, or going the route of a young quarterback and using more of its cap space to build a contender around that player?

Which makes the quarterback spot seem like a good place to begin our annual series of Seahawks position overviews, looking back at the 2022 season but with an eye on 2023:


Geno Smith

Age: 32

Snaps played in regular season: 1,093

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent


Drew Lock

Age: 26

Snaps played in regular season: 0

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent

Sean Mannion

Age: 30

Snaps played in regular season: 0

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent

2022 review

The out-of-the-blue success story of Seattle’s 2022 quarterback situation hardly needs rehashing. Suffice to say that this season marked among the most pleasant surprises at quarterback in team history, right there with the ascension of Jim Zorn in the first year in 1976, Dave Krieg’s emergence as one of the best in the league in 1984 and Russell Wilson’s quick rise to prominence as a rookie in 2012.

Will Smith, like those three, use a breakout season to become one of the greats in team history?

Smith’s emergence meant that Lock didn’t play a down in 2022, something that few could have foreseen in August. Seattle is thought to still be high on Lock and likely views his preseason performances with an asterisk given his COVID-19 battle that prevented him from fully practicing before his final preseason appearance against Dallas.

Mannion provided a steadying voice in the quarterback room on the practice squad.

2023 preview

The question as the offseason begins is this — will what Smith wants jibe with what the team thinks he is worth while considering all the other needs the Seahawks have to address?

And those questions come with the context of Seattle having to gauge if what Smith did in 2022 is replicable for a few more years, or if his season was more of an outlier.

Tough calls, to be sure.

A starting point for Smith may well be the $32.4 million projected for a one-year nonexclusive franchise tag.

But the Seahawks won’t want to take that much of a one-year cap hit, so Smith actually playing on the tag — which the team could place on him beginning Feb. 21 through March 7 — seems unlikely, meaning that number would mostly just be a potential starting point for negotiations.

That assumes Seattle would even want to go that high.

The Seahawks might be willing to wait and see what the open market decides about Smith.

With the salary cap for 2023 having been officially set on Monday at $224.8 million per team, the Seahawks are estimated to have just over $31 million remaining, according to

But the Seahawks will need about $10 million to sign the current 10 draft picks they hold, let alone make decisions on other unrestricted free agents such as Poona Ford (or a replacement) and restricted free agents such as safety Ryan Neal.

Seattle could cut a few vets, such as guard Gabe Jackson ($6.5 million cap savings) and DL Shelby Harris ($8.9 million in cap savings) or restructure their deals (or others) to create some room.

Also worth remembering is that most anticipate the cap continuing to go up substantially the next few years, by possibly at least $25 million in both 2023 and 2024.

So, the Seahawks can surely find a way to fit Smith in with a contract that backloads the cap hits if they want.

Seattle also has said it wants Lock back. Lock, though, undoubtedly wants a chance to play.

That raises at least some question of whether Seattle feels comfortable enough with what it saw of Lock to go with some combination of Lock and a rookie taken with one of those first two picks at five and 20 (or, if a trade is made, somewhere in between maybe?)

Or would Seattle also be willing to take a shot on a free agent such as Sam Darnold or Jacoby Brissett or maybe even Jimmy Garoppolo — we’re going to assume things work out in Baltimore with Lamar Jackson — along with drafting a rookie?

That’s basically what the Seahawks did in 2012, when they signed free agent Matt Flynn and drafted Russell Wilson, all while still having Tarvaris Jackson on the roster.

Or maybe the Seahawks work it all out and return the Smith-Lock duo.

Lots of questions, and they’re the ones Seattle will need to get at least some answers to first before it can take on a lot of the other ones about how to assemble the 2023 roster.

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