Last week, the NFL’s general manager was thinking about free agency and the 2022 trade period when he asked the question about the most impactful moves across the league.
“What do you think was the best quarterback move in terms of signing or trade?” Asked.
I took a minute to think about it, as I scrolled through a list of AFC and NFC teams. It didn’t take me long to come to the realization that the quarterback action was more of a wasteland than I thought just a few months ago.
“You’ll know it when you see it,” said the GM. “I think it’s very clear.”
I began to navigate the carnage. Deshaun Watson still has to take a picture with Cleveland Browns And he already has the most amazing contract in NFL history. Matt Ryan W Baker Mayfield They were all through the bench with Indianapolis Colts And the Carolina Panthers. Mitchell Trubisky took over his job Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Kenny Pickett after just four starts. The Washington leaders He placed Carson Wentz on injured reserve with a finger problem and now seems less inclined to return him to his starting job. Marcus Mariota It was a solid bridge to Atlanta FalconsAnd the Russell WilsonWell, we don’t even need to get into that mess.
This really left one man alone. Gino Smith.
The general manager replied, “Yes.” “That’s mine. They re-signed him in the off-season to compete as a starter, so he’s important.”
Gino Smith salary range for 2023: $23.8 million vs. $38.4 million?
Pound for pound, there is little question. Seattle signed Smith to a one-year deal with a base salary of $3.5 million and incentives that could bring his earnings to $7 million. In contrast, the Seahawks had such a stellar season out of the 32-year-old that you’ll have to go back to signing Rich Gannon with the Oakland Raiders in 1999 to find a player who unexpectedly blossomed of late. stage in his career.
Through 10 games, Smith has led the Seahawks to a 6-4 record and first place in the NFC West. And he did so with an impressive 17-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a class-leading completion rate of 72.8 percent.
He’s also proven to fit in easily with the passing options on the menu and runs a scheme that doesn’t constantly rely on dink-and-dunk plays that can make stats misleading. In fact, everything about what Smith has done up to this point sounds like a veteran quarterback running an offense that should be vying for postseason victories.
With seven games left on the list, he Without a doubt 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]This is an upcoming conversation. We understand that.”
At this point, only an internal implosion could thwart the Seahawks and Smith from making a long-term contract. Barring that, Seattle has some tricky math. Consider how Smith’s worth is calculated by two of the most savvy contract/salary websites on the internet, Spottrack.com and OverTheCap.com. Notice the chasm.
According to a calculation that measures a player’s performance and value against his positioning peers, OverTheCap estimates that Smith went to the Seahawks week by week with a level performance commensurate with his 2022 salary of $38.4 million. Basically, he has the 10th highest paid quarterback in the NFL. Now compare that to Spotrac’s 2023 market value analysis, which uses an algorithm based primarily on three years of performance rather than just 2022. Using a weighted three-year window, Spotrac estimates the average salary for Smith’s next deal to be close to $23.8. million.
This Spotrac number is likely to rise as Smith finishes in 2022 (which is the third year of the analysis). That’s still an eye-catching split, roughly $15 million, between its value calculated for 2022 and its weighted value over a longer period of time. Even more interesting is the number that splits the difference down the middle: $31.1 million.
This middle ground is great because the franchise markup for the quarterback position in 2023 is expected to be around $31.5 million. That’s right about where the NFL’s general managers believe Smith’s contract talks will begin in the next offseason. It’s a staggering amount when you consider that Smith’s total NFL earnings over his first 10 years (depending on what incentives he gets this season) is on the way down to in the range of $14 million to $17 million. Essentially, if 2022 ends as it began, Smith’s salary for 2023 will likely be double what he earned in the previous decade… sum.
Smith seems to be a perfect fit for Seattle, which takes away some of the clout
That’s a realistic goal, according to five global directors and three agents who spoke to Yahoo Sports about how they’d handle similar negotiations.
“I think 30 bucks [million] to $35 million a season, said one of the general managers. “Though it wouldn’t surprise me if they used the franchise tag on him just to take it an extra year to be sure.”
“He plays like a top 10 quarterback,” said another general manager. “Maybe a little better than that. The danger is that this happens later in his career and there’s not a lot of achievement there. But he was [in Seattle] For a few years, so it’s not like his skill set is a mystery to anyone out there. And he showed them he could take it to the field for them, so their comfort level is probably better than anyone else’s.”
Leaning into the point, the agent who negotiated top-level quarterback contracts added, “His value is the highest with Seattle. He’s been there and he’s a leader who fits the culture of what they’re doing. I honestly don’t know if anyone else is willing to pay what Seattle would pay him.” He deserves more in Seattle because there is evidence that he actually works there.”
This would ultimately be a rub for Smith. With a deep rookie quarterback class and the recent trend of some veteran quarterbacks becoming available in the trade — not to mention his age — running free agency for him probably won’t be quite the reward it was for Kirk Cousins Back in 2018. Even though Cousins was 30 years old, he had a long record of success and more than a few very desperate teams lined up in free agency.
It’s hard to tell how much Smith is ultimately worth in terms of commitment, but for Seattle it’s expected to be a lot. The question is how long the Seahawks will see their peak performance last and how quickly they can get the franchise back into the Super Bowl window. Not to mention what it would do to rebuild the team adding another important quarterback contract as quickly as you gave up Russell Wilson’s last season.
But one thing is clear: The Seahawks can do it using any means necessary. Whether it’s a one-year look with a franchise tag or a multi-year deal backing Smith up behind center late in the decade, they’ll have more than $50 million in salary cap space to make it happen.
Either way will take a bit of a bit of a casual maneuvering. But given the way Smith played, it’s better than staring at another quarterback hole and wondering how long it’ll take to make it up.