Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) plays against the Arizona Cardinals in the first half of a game Jan. 7 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) plays against the Arizona Cardinals in the first half of a game Jan. 7 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Seahawks position overview: Will Smith still hold reins at QB?

The veteran’s 2024 salary recently became guaranteed, but a trade is still possible.

The news last week that Geno Smith’s 2024 base salary would become fully guaranteed might have seemed to quash any offseason drama revolving around the Seahawks’ quarterback position.

But to quote Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”

The guarantee of Smith’s $12.7 million base salary came with the caveat that the Seahawks could still explore trade options. They would not have to pay the salary if Smith were dealt.

There’s also the question of what becomes of backup Drew Lock.

The Seahawks seem to like him, with head coach Mike Macdonald and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb volunteering his name when asked about the QB spot in recent days.

Lock can become an unrestricted free agent in March and said after the season that playing time will be a priority in his decision this year.

With the NFL scouting combine and free agency fast approaching, it’s time for an offseason overview of the Seahawks’ position groups, starting with quarterback.

STARTER

Geno Smith

Age: 33

Snaps played in regular season: 906 of 1,051

Contract situation: Smith is entering the second season of a three-year deal signed last March. If he met every incentive, the deal could have paid him as much as $105 million. The contract includes various dates when salaries and bonuses come due. Smith made $27.5 million last season and as noted, had his $12.7 million base salary for 2024 guaranteed last week, meaning he is assured of making $40.2 million on that deal. Smith had made roughly $17.5 million in his career before signing that contract.

BACKUP

Drew Lock

Age: 27

Snaps played in regular season: 145 of 1,051

Contract situation: Lock played last season on a one-year deal that paid him $4 million.

Others on roster: Sean Mannion finished the season on the practice squad but has since retired and been named as an offensive assistant coach with the Green Bay Packers.

2023 review

After an offseason of much conjecture about what the Seahawks might do at quarterback — remember the team’s QB selfie tour of Pro Days? — they ended up standing pat, re-signing Smith to be the starter and Lock to be the backup.

Smith’s raw numbers were all down from his breakout 2022 campaign — completion percentage from 69.8 to 64.7, TDs from 30 to 20 and rating from 100.9 to 92.1, to name a few.

Battling more injuries than he had the previous year — missing two games — and working behind an offensive line that was also more injury-prone and something of a revolving door all season — surely contributed.

Smith had his moments — often when it mattered most, throwing seven go-ahead or overtime TD passes, the most in a season in NFL history.

While QBs inevitably get more credit or blame, depending on how things are going, Smith was nowhere near the top of the list of the Seahawks’ problems in 2023.

Lock surely opened some eyes with his performance in two starts, most notably the late-game comeback against the Eagles.

The Seahawks went much of the year with just two QBs on the roster, but signed Mannion to the practice squad late in the year following the injuries to Smith.

2024 preview

That the clause guaranteeing Smith’s base salary triggered last week led to much speculation that he is assured of being the starter in 2024.

The Seahawks could still look to trade Smith, and his base salary, which is why an even more vital date may be March 18, when Smith is due a $9.6 million signing bonus.

That bonus can’t be traded, and if that date passes with Smith on the roster — and at that point guaranteed $22.3 million for 2024 — then you maybe can put his name in ink as the QB next season.

So, who might want Smith?

Five teams who appear potentially in need of a QB are Atlanta, Las Vegas, New England, Washington and Minnesota if the Vikings do not bring back Kirk Cousins.

Pittsburgh was thought to desire a veteran QB. But a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over the weekend stated that the Steelers “are not interested in bringing in a quarterback who wants to be a starter.”

Of course, Cousins becoming available would put him at the top of the list of veteran QBs teams would go after.

And, well, Russell Wilson also figures to become available. Should we even consider the idea that if the Broncos cut Wilson they’d be interested in trading again with the Seahawks for a QB?

There also are other veteran options for QB-needy teams to consider. Other QBs who can be free agents include Ryan Tannehill, Baker Mayfield (though he is widely expected to re-sign with Tampa Bay), Gardner Minshew, Marcus Mariota, Sam Darnold, Mitchell Trubisky and Jameis Winston.

The broader point is that for a trade to happen, another team would need to think that Smith — who turns 34 in October — would be a plug-and-play answer as their starter this fall.

Conversations at the NFL scouting combine, which runs Feb. 26-March 4, figure to give Seahawks GM John Schneider a better idea of what kind of market there could be for Smith.

As for Lock, that Macdonald and Grubb each volunteered mentions of him when asked about the QB spot over the last few weeks was certainly intriguing.

If nothing else, it seemed to indicate the team hopes he’ll be on the roster in 2024. Re-signing with the Seahawks would seem to consign him to another year of backing up Smith.

A new offensive coordinator and a new system mitigates the advantages in returning. Lock said one reason he was content to come back in 2023 was that it would be a rare time in his career he’d be in the same system for a second straight season, something he felt would improve his game.

Conversely, it’s hard to assess what Lock’s market will be. It could well be that at least returning to a team that would want him, even in a backup role, turns out to be his best option.

Even if Smith and Lock return, drafting a QB can’t be ruled out. The Seahawks can again get out of Smith’s contract after this season, and Lock would logically sign a one-year deal if he returned.

The top three QBs — USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye and LSU’s Jayden Daniels — will be gone when the Seahawks pick at 16.

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy might be available, and Oregon’s Bo Nix and UW’s Michael Penix Jr. almost certainly will be.

When Pete Carroll was around, the Seahawks figured to be focused mostly on the present. A new coaching regime could mean being more receptive to drafting a QB to develop while also trying to win now.

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