By giving quarterback Geno Smith a new three-year deal, the Seattle Seahawks are betting that he can replicate the level of play that made him a Pro Bowl selection and the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2022.
As coach Pete Carroll said in an interview Tuesday morning with Seattle Sports 710-AM, the structure of Smith’s deal indicates he’s betting heavily on himself as well. Carroll didn’t specify any numbers but confirmed that the contract is incentive-laden.
The NFL Network reported earlier Tuesday that the $105 million max value of Smith’s deal includes $30 million in incentives and that its base value is $75 million over three years, with $40 million fully guaranteed.
“When you guys get your chance and you really dig in, you’ll see that it is leaning that way, where we’re counting on him coming through and doing the things that he was able to do last year, and if he does that, he’s going to get rewarded,” Carroll said. “We know that if he’s able to come back and do that, he’s going to have a great season and we’re going to be in great shape. We’re going to have a real chance to be at our best.
“So it is heavily structured that way, and I know he’s gambling a little bit in that sense on himself.”
Carroll was asked what that approach says about Smith.
“He’s clear about it,” Carroll said. “This was part of it throughout. It’s a really strong part of the contract, and I think that’s maybe why ownership is so happy with it, too: if you perform and you get it done, gladly we would reward [you]. I think that was a real combination of thinking that worked out for us.”
Smith played last season on a one-year, $3.5 million deal that included an additional $3.5 million available in incentives — all of which he reached.
Carroll and general manager John Schneider both indicated last week at the scouting combine that re-signing Smith wouldn’t necessarily preclude Seattle from drafting a quarterback. Carroll reiterated that stance Tuesday when asked if drafting a quarterback remains in play, mentioning again how owning the fifth overall pick is rare territory for the Seahawks. They haven’t picked that high since 2009, the year before Carroll and Schneider arrived.
Seattle also owns the 20th overall pick and two second-rounders.
“That opportunity is absolutely there,” Carroll said. “We can do whatever we need to do.”
How would Smith react to Seattle drafting a quarterback?
“Whatever we do, he’s going to take it in stride,” Carroll said. “He’s not going to worry about anybody. This [contract], as a reward to what he’s done, even solidifies his confidence and understanding of how much trust we have in him. So if that is to happen, that is a choice for the long haul, the future and all of that. We’ll see what happens.”