RENTON — The third day of the NFL draft reiterated a statement the Seahawks made on the first two — they are more than OK with their current quarterback room.
Seattle had a chance again Saturday to draft a quarterback who in some mocks had been regarded as a possible first-rounder — North Carolina’s Sam Howell.
But Seattle passed on Howell at 109, when the Seahawks instead took cornerback Coby Bryant. And Seattle even essentially passed on him at 145, trading the pick when Howell was still on the board. Howell was taken at 144 but after the Seahawks moved down.
After the draft, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Seattle considered taking a quarterback with one of the nine picks it ultimately made but said “it just didn’t follow the right way, for one reason or another.”
Later Saturday, Seattle signed undrafted free agent Levi Lewis of Louisiana.
But for now, the battle for the starting QB job falls to Geno Smith and Drew Lock, with Jacob Eason holding down the third spot with a chance to get in the mix, as well.
And during an interview on the NFL Network during the sixth round of the draft Saturday, coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks could stay with that trio as its primary QBs heading into 2022.
Asked if the Seahawks will add a quarterback, Carroll gave his standard answer that “we’re always competing. We’re always looking.”
But when he was asked if the Seahawks could add a QB by the end of the weekend, Carroll said “nothing’s going to change that quick, now. We’re really happy with the guys we’ve got, to see them battle, and we’ll see what happens.”
Carroll’s comment seemed to rule out expecting any major move at the position anytime soon — such as somehow acquiring Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield remains on Cleveland’s roster and the sticking point is that he has a guaranteed salary for 2022 of $18.8 million. No team is going to take on that entire salary — a report Friday said talks between Carolina and the Browns on a trade of Mayfield broke down over how much of that salary Cleveland was willing to take on.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported later Saturday that Seattle may also have never been all that interested in Mayfield. Rapoport said his sense is that Seattle’s interest in Mayfield “was lukewarm at best” because of how the Seahawks “want to stretch the field vertically and horizontally. … doesn’t seem like Baker fits what they really want to do.”
Rapoport reported further that the Browns best option for now may be to keep Mayfield into training camp and wait to see if there is an injury that makes another team suddenly more interested or possibly even keeping Mayfield, where he could be a backup and insurance if Deshaun Watson were to be suspended by the league as it continues to investigate allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
What’s certain is that the Seahawks are no more willing to take on much of Mayfield’s salary than anyone else.
Passing on any of the top QBs in the draft seemed to signal both that the Seahawks indeed think they can win with Lock and/or Smith and also that they didn’t think any of the QBs they could have drafted this year are any better than what they already have.
Some have also speculated that the Seahawks are willing to play this season with what they have at QB knowing they have two first-round picks in 2023 that they could use to try to draft a QB out of what is expected to be a much stronger group.
The Seahawks will begin to get more answers about their QB situation Monday when the team moves into “Phase Two” of its offseason workout program, when they can begin on-field drills (though limited to offensive players working against offensive players and defense against defense for the next three weeks).
As he has done several times, Carroll again referred to Smith as the leader at the spot for now because of his experience with the team — he was Russell Wilson’s backup the last three years.
“Drew is in catch-up mode right now,” Carroll said of Lock. “We’ll get on the field for the first time Monday and get a chance to see what he looks like and we can really get a feel. I love the potential.”
But Carroll again spoke optimistically of what the team thinks it may have in Lock, who was a second-round pick of the Broncos in 2019 and made 21 starts, going 8-13.
“I’m liking him in our culture and the way that we approach things,” Carroll said. “We’re going to support this kid and give him every opportunity to find the best he has to offer. I think he is really going to take to it and we’ll see how far it goes.”
And as Carroll noted, the Seahawks took some significant steps in the draft to help whoever wins the QB job, drafting what may be two new starting tackles in first-rounder Charles Cross on the left side and third-rounder Abraham Lucas on the right, as well as a running back in Kenneth Walker III in the second round.
“We’re going to run the football with some high-powered guys in the back end,” Carroll said. “We’ve done some good stuff up front to him …. Whoever wins this thing in the competition is going to have a good surrounding, supporting cast, and Drew will try to take advantage of that.”