Commentary: What to pay Geno Smith? Here’s one take that could be fair for both sides
Let’s start with the biggest offseason question for the Seahawks: Will they re-sign quarterback Geno Smith, and for how much, and for how long?
And it’s fair to say that the numbers being thrown out there are much different than anyone thought they’d be at the start of the year. Then again, not many expected Geno to put up the numbers he did: Tops in completion percentage, fourth in touchdown passes, a top-five quarterback rating and eighth in total passing yards.
Don’t get me wrong: Geno Smith deserves to be Comeback Player of the Year. His story is fantastic – and I loved watching him this year. But in my opinion, the Seahawks should not – and likely won’t – break the bank to lure him back.
So what are the numbers? Let’s start with the non-exclusive franchise tag, that will be around $32 million for quarterbacks this upcoming season. If both sides can’t come to an agreement by early March, I fully expect Seattle to place the tag on Geno Smith. That allows the negotiation to continue, and worst case, locks Geno in for another season on essentially another prove-it year for a pretty big chunk of change, unless he’s able to find bigger money elsewhere.
Which begs the biggest question of all: What is Geno Smith worth *outside* the Seahawks organization? Is there really another team out there willing to devote $35-to-40 million a year for multiple seasons for a player with just one good season under his belt? A 32-year-old aging veteran who was a serviceable back-up for six consecutive seasons?
Some might say yes. After all, this is a league that’s paying Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan and Ryan Tannehill an average of $30 million dollars or more per season.
But my gut still says no.
Sure, the Seahawks absolutely got a bargain with Geno this season, paying him less than $7 million. But if he stays in Seattle, Geno also benefits in a system he’s familiar with, in a locker room where he’s earned respect, and with a coaching staff he trusts.
That’s why my offer to Geno Smith would be three years for $80-90 million, with $65 million guaranteed. The three-year deal allows the Seahawks to spread money out to help salary cap space. It’s also comparable to the guaranteed cash Geno would be getting under the non-exclusive franchise tag for the next two years, without any bad blood between both sides during drawn-out negotiations.
And it would also allow the Seahawks to groom a quarterback of the future for a couple seasons, learning under a quality starter like Smith.
At the end of the day, Geno Smith has made around $17 million combined the last 11 years. My proposed deal would guarantee him just under four times that, with incentives up to more than five times that, over the next three years. It’s also a team-friendly deal that allows them to sign quality free agents to become a championship contender.
I’ve never believed any team should be spending more than 15 percent of their salary cap on one player. This proposed deal keeps the Seahawks at less than 14 percent for Smith.
It’s also not a hometown discount, because I’m not absolutely sure he’d get this money elsewhere. I just think it’s a very fair deal that elevates both sides in a very big way.