Geno Smith

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Kittle, Seahawks

The 49ers already know that they want to keep George Kittle for the long haul, but they also know that it won’t come cheap. Kittle is on course to become the league’s highest-paid tight end of all-time. As Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com explains, Kittle’s value goes beyond the gaudy yardage and touchdown totals.

In Kittle’s 14 games last year, the Niners averaged 4.83 yards per carry and tallied 23 TDs on the ground. Without him? They averaged just 2.63 yards per carry with zero rushing scores.

What’s amazing about him is what he does in the running game,” former NFL GM Mike Tannenbaum said. “He’s a dominant blocker and he’s been dynamic in the passing game. He’s a rare weapon that I think is more valuable than just a regular tight end because he can block so effectively.”

Then, of course, there are the obvious drivers behind Kittle’s value. Since 2017, Kittle has amassed 2,945 receiving yards, the most of any TE inside of their first three pro campaigns. in NFL history. And, in the past two seasons, he’s totaled 1,464 yards after the catch, good for No. 2 in the league.

It’s pretty much a given that Kittle will top Hunter Henry‘s $10.6MM average annual value, as well as Austin Hooper‘s four-year, $42MM watermark for the largest total contract among TEs. How much further will it go? Wagoner expects Kittle and the Niners to settle for a four-year deal in the range of $68MM-$72MM with roughly $40MM in guarantees.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

Seahawks To Bring Back Geno Smith

The Seahawks have agreed to re-sign Geno Smith on a one-year deal, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Smith first joined Seattle almost exactly one year ago today and spent the year in Seattle, though he did not see time on the field. 

Smith couldn’t have expected much playing time as he sat behind Russell Wilson, who has never missed a game in his eight-year career. He also probably didn’t expect to be released in late August and re-signed on September 1, but that’s exactly what happened.

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 second season. He was looking for redemption in 2015, but that campaign was erased by the fist of teammate IK Enemkpali in a locker room fight. If not for the ButtFumble, that incident would probably stand as the most infamous in modern Jets history. Smith, who is now years removed from his original team, may never shake that from his legacy.

In 2018, Smith hooked on with the Chargers, but threw only four passes as Philip Rivers‘ backup. Before that, he spent a year with the Giants, mostly behind Eli Manning but famously started one game ahead of him (much to the fans’ chagrin). This time around, Smith will look to find his place on the roster as he competes against undrafted rookie free agent QB Anthony Gordon.

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Seahawks Geno Smith: I Had Better Offers

The Seahawks dropped quarterback Geno Smith prior to the 53-man roster deadline, only to re-sign him two days later. For the Seahawks, it was a clever way to shuffle the roster – for one reason or another, they did not fear losing Smith to another team in free agency.

But, according to the one-time Jets starter, he drew more lucrative offers than what the Seahawks were willing to give him after his brief break from the team.

I had some teams call me, actually offering me more money,” Smith said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “But, I decided to stay. . . . It’s always tempting when you get offered more money, right? But I didn’t want to move.

Smith’s 2019 salary is believed to be $805K, the same as his original contract with the Seahawks. We have yet to hear of specific clubs that were interested in signing Smith during his 48-hour stint on the market.

Seahawks Re-Sign Geno Smith

Remember that time the Seahawks were without Geno Smith on their roster? After 24 long hours, the quarterback is back in Seattle, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets.

The Seahawks surprised many in the football world when they released Smith on Saturday en route to a 53-man roster. Releasing Smith, in and of itself, wouldn’t have been a big deal, but the transaction left Russell Wilson as the club’s only QB following Paxton Lynch‘s release.

As it turns out, it was all part of some clever roster maneuvering by Seattle. The Seahawks – perhaps with a wink/nod deal – were willing to risk losing Smith to another team before bringing him back on.

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Seahawks Hope To Re-Sign Geno Smith

After waiving Paxton Lynch and releasing Geno Smith over the past couple of days, the Seahawks do not presently have any QBs on the roster behind starter Russell Wilson. We suggested last night that the club could look to re-sign Smith, and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times says that is indeed Seattle’s plan (Twitter link).

And as veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets, now that the Seahawks have traded two players in exchange for Jadeveon Clowney, the team has an open roster spot that they can use on Smith. The Clowney trade wasn’t finalized prior to Saturday’s cutdown deadline, so Seattle was compelled to release Smith to the open market.

As a vested veteran, Smith is a free agent and can sign with any team he chooses. But he would be a backup wherever he signs, and being Wilson’s clipboard holder isn’t a bad gig.

Smith served as the QB2 for the Chargers last year and for the Giants in 2017, and at this point, the former Jets starter and second-round pick looks destined for a career as a journeyman backup.

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Seahawks Get Down To 53 Players

The Seahawks have made their roster cuts. Perhaps most notably, they cut quarterback Geno Smith. Since they already waived Paxton Lynch last night and also waived J.T. Barrett, they currently have no passers on the roster behind Russell Wilson. It’s possible the team is just maneuvering the roster and planning on re-signing Smith. If not, they’ll be adding a veteran in the coming days.

The Seahawks had a crowded running backs room, and J.D. McKissic and Bo Scarbrough ended up as the odd-men out. A lot of people were expecting Jaron Brown to start the year as the team’s number two receiver while D.K. Metcalf recovers from his knee injury, but he didn’t even end up making the initial 53. Brown was set to make $2.75MM, so maybe he’ll be brought back after the regular season starts when his contract won’t be guaranteed.

Here’s the full list of moves:

Released:

FB Nick Bellore

WR Jaron Brown

QB Geno Smith

CB Jamar Taylor

Waived:

QB J.T. Barrett

 RB J.D. McKissic

RB Bo Scarbrough

CB Simeon Thomas

RB Xavier Turner

Waived/injured:

CB Jeremy Boykins

G Phil Haynes

Injured reserve:

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.

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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.