The first wide receiver off this year’s draft board will be the first of that Round 1 group to sign his rookie contract. Jaxon Smith-Njigba agreed to terms with the Seahawks on Thursday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.
Chosen 20th overall, Smith-Njigba will be tied to a four-year deal that includes a fifth-year option the Seahawks — assuming the Ohio State-developed prospect remains under contract down the road — must exercise by May 2026. For now, Smith-Njigba is the second of this year’s first-rounders — following Eagles defensive tackle Jalen Carter — to sign his rookie deal.
Smith-Njigba began this year’s run on wide receivers, with three others — Quentin Johnston (Chargers), Zay Flowers (Ravens), Jordan Addison (Vikings) — going off the board from Nos. 21-23. Smith-Njigba is coming off essentially a lost 2022 season. He played in only three games and caught just five passes, nursing a nagging hamstring injury throughout. Despite suffering the injury early in the season, Smith-Njigba did not return in time the Buckeyes’ New Year’s Eve CFP semifinal matchup against Alabama. While that generated some scrutiny, JSN’s dominant sophomore season still powered him to a top-20 draft slot.
Playing on a Buckeyes team deploying 2022 first-rounders Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, Smith-Njigba led the Big Ten powerhouse in receiving — by a substantial margin — and delivered a monster Rose Bowl performance to punctuate his breakthrough year. Smith-Njigba caught 95 passes for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore. Against Utah in that season’s Rose Bowl, he snagged 15 passes for 347 yards and three TDs. Although his hamstring issue undoubtedly came up in pre-draft visits, teams were willing to look past that trouble because of the 2021 emergence.
Not one of the teams linked to Smith-Njigba, the Seahawks will add him to a receiving corps that already includes standouts Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Smith-Njigba will not be extension-eligible until 2026, and with teams often waiting until Year 5 on non-quarterback first-rounders’ deals to do extensions, this contract figures to line up well with the higher-end deals given to Lockett and Metcalf. Largely a slot target at Ohio State, the 6-foot rookie is set to become a high-upside WR3 in Seattle to start his career.