Geno Smith

Release Candidates: Seahawks QBs Geno Smith, Paxton Lynch

The Seahawks’ quarterback room has some serious name value. Behind starter Russell Wilson, the club is currently rostering both Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch

The odds of both players making the final cut is slim. Historically, the Seahawks have carried only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster and both players have their warts.

Smith, a former second-round pick of the Jets, has yet to do much at the pro level. Once positioned as the Jets’ starting quarterback, his last attempt at NFL relevance was stopped by the fist of a teammate and a subsequently broken jaw. Lynch, a former first-round pick of the Broncos, lost the starting QB competition twice to former seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian.

To date, Lynch has four career starts on his resume with a 61.7% completion rate, 792 passing yards yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions. Smith – who has 40 career appearances with 31 starts – hasn’t fared much better in a larger sample. He’s completed 57.7% of his throws with just 29 touchdowns against 36 picks.

One of these QBs will probably be out of Seattle by the time September rolls around, and there’s a chance that both will be gone. Last year, the Seahawks traded for Brett Hundley in the preseason and installed him as Wilson’s backup, so the Seahawks’ next No. 2 QB could be with another team as of this writing.

If things don’t work out for Lynch or Smith, they’ll have options. Despite their missteps, they’re both on the right side of 30 and may still hold appeal for evaluators who considered drafting them just a few years ago. And, if an NFL opportunity doesn’t present itself, both players may find a home in the upstart XFL.

We’re watching the backup quarterback camp battles. One of these guys is going to get cut,” XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said of the Smith/Lynch situation. “There’s a bunch of those going on. We might not get all of those guys, the quote-unquote loser of those, but a Geno or Paxton is not going to end up on a practice squad. There are a bunch of 3-4-5-year guys that are in that boat. They’ve been on rosters, practice squad, been yo-yo’d two years. They need to play, and that’s my argument to them, that it’s very doable here.”

Both players have just $25K guaranteed on their one-year deals, so the Seahawks wouldn’t lose much by releasing either player.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

XFL Commish Talks AAF, Recruiting, QBs

World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon is the big name associated with the upcoming XFL, but the league’s commissioner has the difficult job of building a successful infrastructure. Fortunately, Oliver Luck, the father of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, is more than qualified for the position; following an NFL career, Luck earned his law degree before running MLS teams and collegiate programs.

Luck is now tasked with running an alternative option to the NFL, something that several of the league’s predecessors have failed to do. Several months ago, it looked like the XFL would be going head-to-head with the Alliance of American Football, but now they’re the only reputable spring league. The eight teams are already ramping up their efforts for a 2020 debut, and each organization has a head coach in place.

Now, the league is turning their attention to attracting players. In October, about 300 participants from the XFL’s Summer Showcase will be signed and entered into a draft pool, at which time the eight teams will fill the “bottom half” of their rosters. The league will look to fill the rest of their rosters with players who are cut loose by NFL squads following the preseason (more than 850 players will be released at that time). The XFL will have another chance to add players in January, when practice squads end and players aren’t retained via futures contracts.

Luck talked with Greg Auman of The Athletic about the XFL’s plan for recruiting players and what he’s learned from the AAF. The entire article is worth a read, but we’ve compiled some of the notable soundbites below.

On what he learned from the defunct Alliance of American Football, which is still dealing with fallout despite shutting down in April:

“I was speaking with Vince, and one of the questions he asked was ‘What are you worried about?’ I said ‘I think schedule-wise, etc., we’re in pretty good shape, but I do worry though about players’ motivations after the other league collapsed.’ I’m really looking forward to all these showcases, today included, to talk to these guys and it’s been very refreshing to see they just want to play more football. They know where our eight teams are, they know who our head coaches are, they trust we’re going to have a game that’s not too outlandish or crazy. To see the motivation and excitement these guys have has been good for us. It took away any doubt I had that players might say ‘Oh, gosh, another spring league. I don’t want to do that. They never make it.’ That sort of thing. That was important.”

On both the successes and failures of the AAF:

“We watched them closely. Personally, there was no dancing on the grave, no schadenfreude. I was hoping they’d make it through their championship game. … It’s helped us a little bit, reaffirmed our model. The AAF also made some mistakes. (The Apollos), in the sports business, that’s like a pilot forgetting to turn the engine on.”

On NFL-ineligible collegiate players who may spurn the NCAA for professional football (the NFL requires players to be at least three years out of high school):

“We won’t have many, but we’ll have a couple. They’ll be some guys with college eligibility still who say ‘I’d rather go earn sixty grand’ … anybody is eligible. Having said that, as I’ve said to our head coaches, I want to make sure the younger guy is physically, mentally, emotionally mature enough to play. If you’ve got a guy who played a year of ball at Florida State, got a lot of snaps and stuff.”

On whether the NFL is focused on attracting younger players or veterans:

“We have to be able to make sure that some of the older guys can make it through, to be blunt. We have to make sure some of younger guys know what it means to be a professional. I think there will be a combination of guys. We want to be a league of opportunity.”

On attracting (relatively) big-name quarterbacks to join the XFL (Luck specifically focused on the Seahawks backup gig between Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch, noting that the “loser” could realistically make just as much money in the alternative league):

“We’re watching the backup quarterback camp battles. One of these guys is going to get cut. There’s a bunch of those going on. We might not get all of those guys, the quote-unquote loser of those, but a Geno or Paxton is not going to end up on a practice squad. There are a bunch of 3-4-5-year guys that are in that boat. They’ve been on rosters, practice squad, been yo-yo’d two years. They need to play, and that’s my argument to them, that it’s very doable here.”

NFC West Notes: Goff, Seahawks, 49ers

While the Eagles and Carson Wentz are negotiating an extension that is expected to be finalized before the season, the Rams and Jared Goff have not made similar progress. It is not clear if they have begun re-up talks. But the notion the team is toying with the idea of using the two-time Pro Bowler during his rookie deal and moving in is not rooted in reality, Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Rams are committed to building a roster around a franchise-level Goff contract, per Bonsignore. Goff stands to make more than $20MM in 2020 on his fifth-year option but is tethered to merely an $8.89MM cap number this season. Sean McVay has not said if the Rams plan to extend Goff this year, mentioning the possibility of a deal being tabled until 2020.

Shifting to another quarterback’s contract, here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • Geno Smith landed with a fourth team in four years recently, linking up with the Seahawks. His one-year deal is for the minimum salary, according to Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). He’ll receive just $25K guaranteed on the $895K deal as he competes with Paxton Lynch to serve as Russell Wilson‘s backup. Lynch is making $645K this year. Neither is a lock to be on Seattle’s roster when the regular season begins. Despite these two high picks’ struggles as NFLers, each profiles as a bigger name than the Seahawks have employed behind Russell Wilson over the past two seasons.
  • More Seahawks details: Al Woodsdeal points to the veteran defensive tackle having a slightly better chance to make the 53-man roster. But the 10th-year lineman’s pact is worth slightly less than originally reported, as is often the case. Woods can earn up to $2.25MM, but the base value of this pact is $1.25MM, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. A five-team veteran who played two games with 2011 Seahawks, Woods received $400K guaranteed. The deal will count $2.215MM against Seattle’s cap. This deal is similar to those given to Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen last year. Both made the team, though Johnson was cut midway through the season.
  • Ahkello Witherspoon‘s 2018 season did not go well. The young cornerback graded as, by far, the worst full-time corner in the view of Pro Football Focus. But the 49ers signing Jason Verrett does not mean he will be the starter. Witherspoon will still be the man to beat at right cornerback, Matt Barrows of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Verrett is unlikely to be ready to go until training camp, Barrows adds.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Seahawks To Sign QB Geno Smith

The Seahawks are set to sign quarterback Geno Smith, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). This marks Smith’s fourth team in four seasons. 

Last year, the former Jets draft bust hooked on with the Chargers, but threw only four passes as Philip Rivers‘ backup. Before that, Smith spent a year with the Giants. His Giants tenure will be best remembered for the game in which he started over Eli Manning, bringing the future Hall of Famer’s starting streak to and end and igniting a fan uproar.

The Jets installed Smith as their No. 1 QB after selecting him the second round of the 2013 draft, but Smith never looked the part of a starter. The Jets managed an 8-8 record in Smith’s first year under center, but Gang Green went just 3-10 in his sophomore effort. He was looking for redemption in 2015, but that season was erased by the fist of teammate IK Enemkpali in a locker room brawl.

Now, Smith will look to position himself as a backup behind Russell Wilson. Wilson has never missed a game in his seven-year career, so there isn’t exactly a clear path to the field for the 28-year-old West Virginia product.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Bolts, Washington

Paxton Lynch joins the likes of Ameer Abdullah, Breshad Perriman, Stephone Anthony and Mike Gillislee on a roster bubble, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter), and the Broncos may choose to cut ties with their disappointing 2016 first-rounder. Lynch would prefer to stay in Denver, Mike Klis of 9News tweets, despite his rocky tenure there to date. A fresh start might be best for the former Memphis prodigy, but the Broncos may elect to keep him as their No. 3 quarterback. Chad Kelly‘s performance in Denver’s Thursday-night finale could determine Lynch’s fate, with Troy Renck of Denver7 writing that a strong showing from the 2017 seventh-rounder may convince the Broncos he’s ready to be Case Keenum‘s regular-season backup rather than forcing the Broncos to acquire a veteran to serve in that role. That would seemingly free up a roster spot for Lynch as the third-stringer. It would cost the Broncos $4.9MM to cut Lynch. They already absorbed a $5.5MM dead-money hit upon releasing Menelik Watson.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West, shifting to another quarterback battle.

  • The Chargers are likely to keep just two quarterbacks, which makes sense given Philip Rivers‘ historic durability. Los Angeles’ starter has taken first-string snaps in every game since succeeding Drew Brees in 2006. As a result, Yates adds that either Cardale Jones or Geno Smith is a cut candidate. The Bolts, though, aren’t certain which one will be given his walking papers. Smith is a vested veteran and would head into free agency if released, while Jones would be subject to waivers. Neither is attached to a contract worth more than $1MM.
  • Su’a Cravens will make his Broncos debut Thursday night after missing most of August due to a knee injury, Renck notes. The former Redskins safety/linebacker has a clearer path to the Broncos’ roster, despite missing most of training camp, due to Jamal Carter‘s season-ending injury.
  • With UDFA Phillip Lindsay almost certainly having earned his way onto the team as Denver’s No. 3 running back, De’Angelo Henderson has drawn trade interest. Former Broncos tackle Tyler Polumbus, writing for The Athletic (subscription required) believes that would be the best scenario for the second-year player, noting that Denver will likely keep four backs — Devontae Booker, Royce Freeman, Lindsay and fullback Andy Janovich — on its 53-man roster. This would leave both Henderson, who likely wouldn’t pass through waivers, and seventh-round rookie David Williams, who might, off the team.
  • Although he returned a punt for a touchdown in the preseason, Isaiah McKenzie probably won’t make the Broncos, per Polumbus. The diminutive return man has fumbled several kicks in his short Broncos stay, losing another one during preseason play. Lindsay and the recent addition of Adam Jones look to have forced the second-year player off the roster.
  • The Raiders will likely waive DeAndre Washington and allow recent camp pickup Chris Warren to take his place, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes. Washington recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and is an IR candidate, per Gutierrez, who has the Raiders keeping four running backs — Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and Warren. Washington and Richard served as backups for Lynch and Latavius Murray the past two years. Washington averaged 5.4 yards per carry as a rookie but struggled last season (2.7 YPC).

Chargers Notes: Gates, Jones, Smith, Nwosu

After Hunter Henry was lost for the season with a torn ACL, it was immediately speculated that the Chargers might look to bring back Antonio Gates. Gates’ NFL career appeared to be over after the Chargers indicated they were moving on, but Henry’s injury threw him a lifeline.

Gates isn’t interested in playing for any other team, and the two sides had talks right after Henry went down. Despite there still being no deal in place with the preseason already underway, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said “we’re still talking with him” after the Chargers’ game against the Cardinals, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN. Williams points out that the Chargers tight ends accounted for five drops in the preseason opener, and Lynn said “we need to make more plays at the tight end position.” It all sounds like eventually something will get done with Gates.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • In the race to be Philip Rivers‘ backup between Geno Smith and Cardale Jones, Smith “appeared to seize control of the competition” with his strong performance in the first week of the preseason, Williams writes. Smith threw for over 200 yards while Jones, who started the game, threw for only 50 on 12 attempts.
  • Williams writes that rookie linebacker Uchenna Nwosu could start right away for the team. Nwosu, the 48th overall pick in this year’s draft from USC, had a sack and two quarterback hits in his professional debut.
  • In case you missed it, we took a look at the Chargers’ situation at guard as Forrest Lamp continues to rehab from a knee injury.

Contract Details: Meredith, Matthews, Smith

Here’s a look at the details of some recent free agent deals:

  • Cameron Meredith‘s two-year, $9.6MM Saints offer sheet can be worth up to $12.6MM, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports. There are $5.4MM in total guarantees. The Bears have not determined if they will match or not.
  • Jordan Matthews‘ rough year with the Bills may have cost him. The former productive Eagles slot receiver signed with the Patriots for one year and $1MM, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. While $700K is available via incentives, this is a team-friendly deal — one that only includes $170K guaranteed.
  • Bennie Logan‘s Titans deal is for one year and worth $4MM in base value, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Incentives can escalate Logan’s haul to $5MM.
  • The ChargersGeno Smith contract is worth $1MM over one year, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. This comes with a $200K signing bonus.

Geno Smith To Sign With Chargers

It looks like Philip Rivers will have a new backup quarterback. Geno Smith and the Chargers reached an agreement on a deal that will bring Smith to Los Angeles, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a one-year deal, per Schefter and ESPN.com’s Eric Williams.

Smith will reunite with Anthony Lynn, who was a Jets offensive assistant during his first two seasons with the team.

The sixth-year quarterback met with both the Bolts and Seahawks this offseason, with the Chargers receiving the first meeting. He will trek to L.A., leaving Seattle without a proven backup to Russell Wilson. Smith and Cardale Jones are now in line to fill out the Chargers’ Rivers-centric QB meetings.

Having spent a year backing up the player once traded for Rivers, Smith made one start for the Giants and ended up snapping Eli Manning‘s historic streak. That caused quite a bit of uproar and accelerated the changing of the guard in New York. Smith saw action in just two Giants games last season and only three Jets contests from 2015-16, with the infamous locker room skirmish with IK Enemkpali playing a role in sidetracking the former second-round pick’s career.

Entering his age-28 season, Smith holds a career 57.9 completion percentage and has thrown 29 touchdown passes compared to 36 interceptions. He started a loss to the Raiders in Oakland last season, completing 21 of 34 tosses with a touchdown on a depleted Big Blue team.

Rivers has not missed a start since taking over the Bolts’ passing reins in 2006. Jones did not throw a pass last season with the Bolts. Longtime Rivers backup Kellen Clemens, who threw eight passes in 2017, is a free agent. Rivers’ backup for the past four seasons, Clemens seems poised to head elsewhere now. The Seahawks could be a fit, with the 34-year-old quarterback having worked under new Seattle OC Brian Schottenheimer with the Rams earlier this decade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Geno Smith To Visit With Seahawks

Free-agent quarterback Geno Smith is set to visit with the Seahawks, a source told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. It’ll be the second visit for Smith, who met with the Chargers earlier this week but left without a deal. 

The Seahawks are in need of some depth behind Russell Wilson after parting ways with backup quarterback Trevone Boykin earlier this week. Boykin was arrested Wednesday on charges of aggravated assault stemming from an incident earlier this month. Russell Wilson currently stands as the only quarterback on the Seahawks’ roster. Austin Davis was the only other quarterback on the team’s active roster outside of Wilson last season and remains a free agent.

Smith, 27, has spent his entire career in New York, with the first four years of his career spent with the Jets and last season spent as the backup for Eli Manning and the Giants. Smith wound up making a start last season as Eli Manning’s consecutive starts streak came to an end in controversial fashion. He appeared in two games in total, completing 58.3% of his passes while throwing a touchdown without an interception.

The Jets took Smith in the second round of the 2013 draft out of West Virginia. He started 29 games through his first two seasons but was relegated to backup duties behind Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2015 before departing the Jets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers To Meet With QB Geno Smith

Former Giants and Jets quarterback Geno Smith will visit the Chargers on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Rapoport adds that Bolts head coach Anthony Lynn has been a fan of Smith in the past. 

Another former Jet – Kellen Clemens – served as Philip Rivers‘ primary backup last season. As it stands, Cardale Jones is the only other quarterback on the Chargers’ depth chart. While Jones has potential, the Chargers are looking for an experienced QB to play behind Rivers.

Smith, a second-round pick in the 2013 draft, has had a rocky NFL tenure to say the least. After two unsuccessful seasons under center for New York, he missed the overwhelming majority of the 2015 season after teammate IK Enemkpali broke his jaw in a locker room brawl.

Smith spent the following season holding the clipboard for Ryan Fitzpatrick before hooking on with the Giants last year. In an extremely controversial move, the Giants started Smith in a December contest against the Raiders. After his two-fumble game, the Giants reinstated Eli Manning as the starter and fired their coach and GM.

Despite all of his warts, Lynn believes that Smith could be a capable No. 2 QB for the Chargers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.