Could the big question of the Seahawks offseason — the future of free-agent quarterback Geno Smith — have an answer soon?
Smith indicated that could be the case during a couple of interviews that aired Friday, conducted while attending the Pro Bowl Games in Las Vegas.
Appearing on Pro Bowl Live on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday, Smith said he and the Seahawks “have had talks” and that “we’re in the process of getting all that settled right now. It’s looking very good.”
Appearing on “The Pivot Podcast,” which went live on YouTube on Friday afternoon, Smith reiterated his desire to stay with the Seahawks saying, “I love Seattle. We have a great relationship. I think we’ll work things out.”
Smith said he wouldn’t get into the numbers of what he is seeking but said on The Pivot that: “You just want to be respected. Your contract, you just want it to say, ‘We respect you. We understand what you bring to the table. We understand the caliber of player you are and we appreciate you.’ And that’s really what it all comes down to.”
That the two sides have had talks could mean each is aiming to get something done before one or two key dates: Feb. 21, when a 15-day window opens for teams to place franchise tags on players; and March 15, when players whose contracts expired at the end of the 2022 season, as is the case with Smith, can officially become free agents and sign with other teams (teams can re-sign their own players at any time).
Smith’s apparent optimism Friday that something will get done mirrors what he and coach Pete Carroll said following the season.
What could be a volatile free-agent market for quarterbacks and that Smith is coming off a career season at age 32 when his value is the highest it has ever been has led to speculation that he might be tempted to test free agency.
Pro Football Focus rated Smith No. 2 of all free agents available this week behind only Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, and it estimated Smith could command a four-year contract worth up to $150 million with $112.5 million guaranteed.
“The fact of the matter is that Smith played like a legitimate top quarterback in the NFL in 2022,” wrote PFF.
That deal would average $37.5 million per season and would be the 10th-highest APY currently for any quarterback.
That might be a little rich for the Seahawks, who have also made clear they have some other issues they need to address this offseason, specifically on their defensive front seven.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider said during an interview with SportsRadio KJR 93.3 last week that any negotiation has to be done working “within those constraints to be able to field the most competitive team you possibly can.”
Some around the league have wondered what Smith’s market would be, despite a season in which he led the NFL in completion percentage at 69.8% and set a team record with 4,282 yards, given that he had not been a regular starter since 2014.
That has led to speculation that the two sides could consider the 2023 nonexclusive franchise tags for quarterbacks of $32.4 million a starting point — and could be an option depending on how talks progress.
Each side would likely want to avoid the tag. Teams have to take all of that number on their 2023 salary cap, and Smith would surely rather have a longer-term commitment.
Smith, who is one of three quarterbacks representing the NFC at the Pro Bowl, is the most pivotal of the 24 Seahawks who can become unrestricted free agents.
Getting him signed by March 15 would make it far clearer for what they to work with entering the free-agent signing period.
The Seahawks have signed one of their free agents, kicker Jason Myers, to a four-year deal the week after the season ended, a move Schneider called “just the first step in our offseason.”
Schneider said in the KJR interview last week that he expected the team to re-sign Smith but indicated that substantive talks had yet to happen, saying “hope to get started here pretty quick.”
Friday, Smith seemed to indicate he hopes his contract situation gets wrapped up quickly.
“We think we can get something done,” Smith told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “But obviously these things take time. This is the process that I hate about the NFL because I just want to play football. But you know, it’s a business as well. So we’ve got to take care of business and then get back to the football.”
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