Drew Lock

Giants, Saints Pursued Russell Wilson; Seahawks Staffers Viewed QB As Declining

Two teams that wound up on Russell Wilson‘s list of acceptable destinations last year indeed pursued him in 2022. The Giants and Saints were among the teams to discuss the perennial Pro Bowl quarterback with the Seahawks, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com reports.

The Saints appear to have advanced further during this year’s trade talks. Seattle, however, knew Denver had become Wilson’s preference, so the team kept New Orleans in the mix to prompt an improved Broncos offer. It is unclear if the Broncos did so, as Wilson’s no-trade clause could block a Saints move. The 11th-year veteran’s initial destination list included New Orleans, along with Chicago, Dallas and Las Vegas. Of course, the Saints saw a rather notable change take place this year; Sean Payton walked away after 16 seasons. But Wilson became set on Denver this year.

Seahawks GM John Schneider, who initiated trade talks with the Broncos by texting George Paton at the Senior Bowl, apologized to the non-Broncos teams whom he told Wilson was not available. The Broncos had also become the Seahawks’ preferred trade partner, per Henderson, who writes in an expansive piece Schneider’s interest in Drew Lock drove that effort. Lock, whom Schneider was fond of ahead of the 2019 draft, will begin the season as Geno Smith‘s backup.

New Orleans, which later became a Deshaun Watson finalist, pivoted back to Jameis Winston after the Browns’ $230MM fully guaranteed offer changed Watson’s mind on a Cleveland stay. The Giants, who joined the Broncos in emerging as an acceptable Wilson landing spot late last year, will give Daniel Jones a final chance. The Commanders, who offered three first-round picks and change for Wilson, also joined the Browns, Eagles and Panthers in a wide-ranging Wilson pursuit.

Much of the gradual decay in the Seahawks-Wilson relationship has come out, but Henderson offered one reason Seattle was OK moving on. Although this divorce might not have happened had Wilson and Pete Carroll not butted heads continually during the early 2020s, multiple Seahawks front office staffers believed Wilson was in decline.

The nine-time Pro Bowler’s issues with the Seahawks ranged from Carroll’s run-first philosophy to the team’s offseason efforts — particularly along its offensive line — to fortify a contender, and the Broncos look to agree with Wilson that the Seahawks held him back. No team ran the ball more from 2012-21 than Seattle, and Henderson adds the Seahawks ranked 29th in designed pass-play rate over that time. The Seahawks, conversely, had come to view free agent O-linemen as overpaid commodities, per Henderson. During Wilson’s time on expensive contracts, the team did acquire Duane Brown and Gabe Jackson via trade.

Wilson’s 57.7 QBR ranks 11th in the NFL over the past 25 games, a stretch that began with a 2020 midseason dip following an explosive start. Wilson struggled after that hot, oft-labeled “Let Russ Cook” intro to the ’20 season and did not play well in the weeks following his 2021 finger surgery. He did fare better to close the 2021 season, however. Anonymous executives tabbed Wilson eighth among quarterbacks in both The Athletic’s annual quarterback tiers project and in an ESPN.com poll ranking each position. Although certain Seahawks coaches disagreed the 33-year-old passer was declining, the team moved on in March by picking up eight assets — including Lock, Shelby Harris, Noah Fant and two first-round picks — for the likely Hall of Fame-bound player.

Wilson has since signed a five-year, $245MM Broncos contract ($124MM fully guaranteed — second only to Watson’s outlay) and will attempt to craft a memorable second act. The Seahawks, who were reluctant to go through a third round of Wilson extension talks or pay the new going rate to the talented QB, are likely to be connected to 2023 first-round passers. If the franchise does go that route, it would not need to discuss a quarterback extension for at least four years.

Geno Smith Named Seahawks Starting QB

It’s Geno Time in Seattle. After last night’s preseason game, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll announced that Geno Smith will be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1.

[RELATED: Seahawks Still Eyeing Jimmy Garoppolo?]

Following the offseason trade of Russell Wilson, the Seahawks have spent training camp and the preseason evaluating who will guide their offense in 2022. Smith, who’s been the team’s backup over the past two seasons, was going against Drew Lock, who was acquired from the Broncos in the Wilson trade. While Lock is younger and has more recent starting experience, Smith always seemed to be the favorite for the starting gig considering his familiarity with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron’s system, and this was reflected in him taking first-team snaps throughout the preseason.

Lock further lost some ground when he was forced to miss the Seahawks second preseason game while he was sidelined with COVID. He didn’t do much to help his case when he returned to the field for last night’s preseason finale, tossing three interceptions. Carroll informed the team after the contest that Smith would be the starting QB to start the season, and he later passed on the information to reporters.

“We really put him up against the competition, and Drew took his shot at him all the way throughout,” Carroll said (via ESPN’s Brady Henderson). “Those guys … they have gotten along beautifully, they’ve supported one another throughout. They really couldn’t have done that better and in more classy, great competitor fashion. They know that they need each other and all that, and they did it right.

“But Geno, he knows our stuff and he does really well and he understands it and he can manage everything that we’re doing and he’s good about the football. He’ll give us the best chance to play great football right off the bat.”

Smith started three games last season while filling in for Wilson, going 1-2 while tossing five touchdowns vs. one interception. He hasn’t had a full-time starting gig since 2014, when he went 3-10 in 13 starts for the Jets. Lock, meanwhile, got 21 starts for Denver over the past three years, going 8-13. Following a 2020 campaign where he tossed a league-high 15 interceptions, the 25-year-old was limited to only three starts (all losses) in 2021.

Considering the uninspiring track record of Smith and Lock, it remains to be seen if Seattle would pursue an upgrade. Mostly, if Jimmy Garoppolo eventually shakes loose in San Francisco, you’ve got to wonder if the Seahawks would jump at the opportunity to add him. Plus, assuming Jimmy G would need some time acclimating himself to the offense, Carroll could still stick with his declaration that Smith would be his early-season starter.

NFC West Rumors: Bosa, McGlinchey, Hawks

It continues to look like the 49ers will wait until 2023 to extend Nick Bosa. The fourth-year defensive end became extension-eligible in January, but unlike 2019 draft classmate Deebo Samuel, Bosa has a fifth-year option for 2023. The 49ers would prefer to wait here, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, and Bosa has not pressed the issue regarding a 2022 extension. This comes after John Lynch said next year will likely be the window for a Bosa deal, despite the expected $24MM windfall the 49ers are expected to receive when they move Jimmy Garoppolo‘s contract off their payroll — via trade or release — by Week 1. This will not be a DeForest Buckner situation, however. Lynch said this week Bosa will be a long-term 49er.

What I do know, as long as we’re here, Nick Bosa is going to be a part of the Niners and he’s going to get paid handsomely to do so,” Lynch said. “His time is coming, and when it does, he’ll get what he deserves because man, what a special player.”

Bosa will be expected to bridge the gap between Aaron Donald ($31.7MM per year) and the field, with the prospect the NFL has at least two $30MM-AAV defenders by Week 1 2023 looking likely. Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • One of Bosa’s top practice opponents will not be on the field for a bit. The 49ers will hold Mike McGlinchey out of practice for at least this week, Kyle Shanahan said (via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch). McGlinchey, who missed the second half of last season due to a torn quad, experienced knee pain after an eight-snap preseason opener and underwent a PRP procedure. The fifth-year right tackle does not have a timetable for return, making this a must-monitor situation. The 49ers’ offensive line is already set to look considerably different. Alex Mack retired, Laken Tomlinson signed with the Jets and McGlinchey’s 2021 backup — Tom Compton — is now a Bronco. Colton McKivitz, who spent most of 2021 on San Francisco’s practice squad, resides as McGlinchey’s current understudy.
  • Drew Lock missed the Seahawks‘ second preseason game Thursday and remains away from the team. Pete Carroll said the QB trade acquisition is “really sick” with COVID-19, which the team announced he contracted Tuesday. After a solid start (minus a late-game fumble) in Seattle’s preseason opener, Lock is losing ground to Geno Smith by missing time. Smith remains in the lead for the Seahawks’ QB1 post, Eric Williams of Fox Sports writes. This seems like a situation in which both players will start games for the 2022 Seahawks, but Smith remains in pole position to get the Week 1 call.
  • After the 49ers cut Darqueze Dennard, they look set to give their slot cornerback job to rookie Samuel Womack, Branch notes. The fifth-round pick, who had been viewed as behind Dennard in this competition earlier in camp, intercepted two passes in the 49ers’ preseason opener. Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley are expected to be San Francisco’s outside corners.
  • The Seahawks traded one of their slot options, Ugo Amadi, to the Eagles for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. They may well call on a rookie to man the post as well. Coby Bryant is looking like he will play in the nickel role, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. The Seahawks have not used presumptive outside starters Sidney Jones or Artie Burns during the preseason. Seattle chose Bryant in the fourth round and Tariq Woolen in the fifth; the latter worked as an outside corner in the team’s second preseason tilt Thursday.

NFC West Notes: Donald, Hawks, 49ers

Right up until his landmark summer contract agreement, Aaron Donald teased retirement. The all-time great is going into his age-31 season, but during the negotiations with the Rams, Donald said he knows he has at least three more years in the NFL. The Rams had Donald under contract through 2024, via the 2018 extension he signed, but gave the seven-time All-Pro a straight raise in June. He is now signed to a defender-record $31.7MM per year through 2024.

I think myself and the front office, talking with his reps, were really: ‘OK, if Aaron wants to play football, then really it’s on us to figure out a way to get the money right. Aaron shouldn’t retire because of us,'” Rams GM Les Snead said, via the New York Times’ Emmanuel Morgan. “The third part, and I think Aaron did a really nice job, is because he was actually honest and said, ‘Look, I know I got three years.’ Then it’s working creatively to be able to reward Aaron, but also engineer a contract where if he does retire in three years, it doesn’t punish the club for the future.”

Donald, whose deal also includes a no-trade clause, recently connected his future to Sean McVay‘s. This accord came during an offseason in which the Rams also extended Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. The latter’s deal also came with multiple years remaining on his previous contract. Here is more from the NFC West:

  • Seahawks rookie running back Kenneth Walker represents a key part of the team’s backfield equation, one that recently lost Chris Carson to retirement. Walker will not be available for a bit, with Pete Carroll indicating the second-round pick is battling “a little hernia thing” that may sidetrack him for the rest of the preseason. The Seahawks are now targeting Week 1 for Walker’s return, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com notes (Twitter links). Walker has already undergone surgery to address the problem, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Seattle re-signed Rashaad Penny in March, and while the injury-prone back missed time recently because of a groin issue, he returned to practice Tuesday.
  • In addition to Walker being out for the Seahawks’ second preseason game, the team’s quarterback competition will see one of its members down for that contest. Drew Lock contracted COVID-19 and will miss the Seahawks’ Thursday tilt against the Bears. Already behind Geno Smith in vying to succeed Russell Wilson, with Carroll saying Tuesday that Smith remains “the No. 1 guy,” Lock will be shut down by the NFL’s current COVID protocols. Players are no longer required to be moved off the roster for virus reasons, but they must isolate for at least five days after testing positive.
  • Mike McGlinchey played eight snaps in the 49ers’ first preseason game, returning from the torn quadriceps injury he suffered in November. But Kyle Shanahan said the veteran right tackle experienced knee irritation after the preseason action, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes. While the sixth-year HC added the PRP procedure McGlinchey underwent is not connected to the surgery had reattaching his quad tendon to the kneecap, it should be something to monitor here. McGlinchey is in a contract year, and the 49ers let his 2021 backup — Tom Compton — sign with the Broncos. Colton McKivitz, who spent most of last year on the team’s practice squad, is in place as McGlinchey’s backup.
  • Cardinals running backs coach James Saxon is on administrative leave stemming from two domestic battery charges, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com reports. These charges stem from an alleged May incident in Indianapolis, per Weinfuss, who adds one of the charges is a Level 6 felony for an alleged assault on a woman in front of a child under the age of 16. The Level 6 charge in Indiana comes with a sentence of six months to 2 1/2 years in prison. The other charge is a Class A misdemeanor. Saxon, 56, has been an NFL assistant since 2000 and with the Cardinals since 2019.

Poll: Who Will Make Most Seahawks QB Starts In 2022?

While Russell Wilson did not enter his first offseason as a lock to start, and Tarvaris Jackson did bridge the 2011 gap between Matt Hasselbeck and Wilson, the Seahawks have not exactly experienced much late-summer quarterback uncertainty in the 21st century. Even going back to the late 1990s, Jon Kitna ended his Seattle run as the team’s unquestioned starter for multiple seasons.

This run of stability stopped when the team dealt Wilson to Denver in March. Although the Seahawks were connected to both Baker Mayfield — whose early destination prediction was Seattle — and rookie prospects, they have stayed the course. The Geno SmithDrew Lock battle is unfolding in earnest at training camp. Will this be how the team replaces Wilson?

Right now, Smith — Wilson’s three-year backup — is in the lead, per Pete Carroll. The 10th-year passer will start the Seahawks’ first preseason game Saturday. This marks the second straight year Lock will begin the preseason as a backup. He did so behind Teddy Bridgewater last year, and that status turned out to be indicative of the Broncos’ 2021 plans for the former second-round pick.

Smith, 31, has taken most of the snaps behind Seattle’s first-string offensive line during camp, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes, but Lock, 25, outperformed him in the team’s mock scrimmage recently, Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News-Tribune tweets. The Mizzou product led multiple scoring drives despite helming the second-team offense against Seattle’s first-team defense. Lock will likely move into the starting lineup at least once during the Seahawks’ three-game preseason slate. Lock limiting his turnovers at Seahawks camp has impressed Carroll as well, per Condotta.

The Seahawks know what they have in Smith, who has gone from being a multiyear Jets starter to a player that has sat exclusively behind durable QB1s. The infamous IK Enemkpali locker-room punch thrust Ryan Fitzpatrick into a Jets starting role in 2015, and Smith played behind Fitz in 2016 as well. Smith’s 2017 Giants deal did produce one start, when then-HC Ben McAdoo benched Eli Manning. That move led ownership to can McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese. Smith’s Chargers accord did not lead to any starts, with Philip Rivers well into his start streak in 2018, and Wilson’s start streak hummed into October 2021. Smith completed 68.4% of his passes, throwing five TDs to one INT, and averaged 7.4 yards per attempt in his three-plus-game cameo last season.

A Lock rookie-year hand injury kept him sidelined behind Joe Flacco and Brandon Allen, but he finished that year with five Broncos starts. Denver did not bring in any competition for Lock in 2020, but the strong-armed QB’s sophomore season began his path out of town. The streaky passer led the NFL in INTs (15), doing so despite missing three starts and failing to finish another. Even as Bridgewater battled multiple injuries in 2021, he continued to start over Lock. Bridgewater’s second 2021 concussion, which came in Week 15, led Lock back to work. While Lock again enjoyed moments, he finished with a 23.4 QBR in limited action. The Broncos lost each of his three season-ending starts.

It would seem the Seahawks have a floor-vs.-ceiling decision to make, with Smith representing the safer option. But a clear upgrade should be available soon. The 49ers want to avoid releasing Jimmy Garoppolo early, keeping him away from the division rival with a quarterback need. But with Garoppolo’s $24.2MM base salary becoming guaranteed just ahead of Week 1, the Seahawks lurk. They have done homework on the four-plus-year San Francisco starter, and while no trade is likely here, Seattle could obtain Garoppolo on a much cheaper salary if/when he is cut.

Will the Seahawks be the team that ends up with Garoppolo? Or will their months-long Lock-Smith competition produce a winner worthy of sticking around as Wilson’s successor? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Baker Mayfield Fallout: Panthers, Browns, Garoppolo, Darnold, Draft, Salary, Seahawks

Wednesday’s Baker Mayfield trade came after months of negotiating. It appears the mid-June ramp-up in Browns-Panthers talks led to an agreement fairly soon after, but the ball fell into the quarterback’s court. Mayfield agreeing to trim $3.5MM from his salary satisfied the Panthers.

The teams had this deal in place for nearly a month, according to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones and former Browns GM Michael Lombardi (Twitter links). In pitching the slight pay cut to Mayfield, the Panthers pointed to the potential for the former No. 1 overall pick making up the difference by boosting his value for the 2023 free agent market, Jones adds. Mayfield, who was attached to an $18.9MM salary, can also earn back the money through 2022 incentives. Mayfield follows Odell Beckham Jr. in sacrificing some money to facilitate a Browns exit.

The interest in this interconference trade notwithstanding, David Newton of ESPN.com adds the deal will still precede a Mayfield-Darnold competition. Mayfield will be favored to win a training camp contest against incumbent Sam Darnold, who was chosen two picks after him in the 2018 draft. As for the conditional draft choice the Browns will receive, Mayfield’s former team will need to root for him to beat out Darnold. The pick will upgrade to a 2024 fourth-rounder if Mayfield plays at least 70% of the Panthers’ snaps, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Otherwise, it will become a fifth.

This battle’s winner will take the reins of a Panthers team that could feature a much better offensive line — one that added left tackle Ikem Ekwonu, center Bradley Bozeman and guard Austin Corbett, whom the Browns chose one round after Mayfield in 2018 — compared to its 2021 version and a receiving corps of D.J. Moore, Robbie Anderson and 2021 second-round pick Terrace Marshall Jr. The prospect of a healthy Christian McCaffrey has taunted the Panthers and their fanbase for two years now, but the former All-Pro running back is returning to his spot as well. Mayfield appears to be planning to gather Panthers skill players for a pre-camp workout, Newton tweets.

At the draft, the Browns were not prepared to pay much more than $3MM of Mayfield’s salary. They ended up moving to $10.5MM. The Panthers did not want to cough up more than $5MM for Mayfield, SI.com’s Albert Breer tweets, leading to the pay-cut request. But the Panthers managed to add a former No. 1 pick, resisting the temptation to reach for one of this year’s QB prospects with the No. 6 choice — which became Ekwonu.

While Mayfield’s pay cut and the Panthers agreeing to cover part of the cost saves the Browns upwards of $8MM in cap space, this still could mark a massive descent for Cleveland’s quarterback position — for 2022 at least. The Browns have gone from a 2022 reality of deploying a healthier Mayfield to trotting out Deshaun Watson — after a short suspension — to facing the prospect of Jacoby Brissett being needed for a full season of QB1 work. The Browns did not foresee a season-long Watson suspension — which has become the NFL’s preferred ban — when they traded for him, and neither they nor Mayfield appeared to make inroads toward repairing the relationship.

As previously noted, a Jimmy Garoppolo trade was not in play for the Panthers. They had expressed reservations about the 49ers QB’s injuries and, based on the extensive haggling over Mayfield’s contract, were not taking on Garoppolo’s $24.2MM salary. Carolina viewed Mayfield as a higher-floor option than Garoppolo, per Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com (on Twitter). Wednesday’s transaction cost Garoppolo, who has dealt with more injuries than Mayfield over the past four seasons, a prime landing spot. The 49ers may now need to wait on a training camp injury to unload Garoppolo in a trade. Certain NFL evaluators have expected San Francisco to simply release Garoppolo, whose base salary becomes guaranteed in Week 1.

Seattle would make sense as a Garoppolo destination, but chatter out of the Pacific Northwest continues to center around the ongoing Drew LockGeno Smith competition. The Seahawks had “lukewarm interest” in acquiring Mayfield, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. Although the Browns going from Mayfield to Brissett represents a downgrade, the Seahawks moving from Russell Wilson to either Lock or Smith would surpass that. The Broncos giving up their 2023 first- and second-round picks gives the Seahawks options next year — what is expected to be a better quarterback draft — but the team appears on the doorstep of giving Wilson’s old job to a highly scrutinized passer.

NFC West Rumors: Rams, Seahawks, Wilson, Cardinals

The Rams’ celebration period for their Super Bowl LVI victory over the Bengals has wound down, and it’s time for Los Angeles to start gearing up for a potential repeat. There’s a bit of work to do on the offensive line with the retirement of left tackle Andrew Whitworth and the departure of right guard Austin Corbett in free agency.

According to ESPN’s Sarah Barshop, the Rams have long hoped that 2018 third-round pick Joseph Noteboom would eventually be prepared to fill in when Whitworth finally hung up his cleats. He’ll likely get that opportunity this season. Barshop also mentions that head coach Sean McVay said during minicamp that a competition will take place for the vacant right guard spot. Bobby Evans has been penciled into that starting role since Corbett left for Carolina, but the Rams were reportedly ecstatic to land Wisconsin guard Logan Bruss in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Expect Bruss to push Evans for the starting right guard job this summer.

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC West, starting with a note out of last year’s fourth-place team in the division:

  • Ten years ago, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll relied on preseason games to determine the quarterback competition between Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn. According to Brady Henderson of ESPN, Carroll will stick to his guns and use preseason game-tape as a heavy factor in determining if Geno Smith or trade-acquisition Drew Lock will start Week 1, when Wilson returns to Lumen Field. Carroll has claimed that the team is in “good shape” with its current quarterback room that rosters Smith, Lock, and Jacob Eason.
  • Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson turned heads last summer in Arizona and surprised many when he was named a starter alongside Byron Murphy Jr. over veteran free agent addition Robert Alford. After six strong years in Atlanta (five as a full-time starter), Alford was expected to serve as the starting cornerback opposite Murphy while Wilson matured as a rookie at the NFL level. After a pectoral injury ended his season on injured reserve, the Cardinals allowed Alford to hit free agency. There’s still a chance Arizona brings back the 33-year-old, but, even if they do, Cardinals staff writer Darren Urban expects Wilson to retain his starting job opposite Murphy.
  • The Cardinals announced some promotions in their scouting staff last week. After spending the last three seasons as the team’s Western regional scout, Josh Scobey has been promoted to director of college scouting going into his 11th season in Arizona. Glen Fox will similarly spend his 10th season with the Cardinals as their director of pro personnel after being promoted from pro scout. Another nine-year Cardinal staffer, John Mancini will spend his 10th season as a national scout after serving previously as an area scout. Zac Canty will become the team’s Central regional scout in his 11th season with the team. Rounding out the organization’s impressive show of longevity, Ryan Gold has been made assistant director of college scouting after eight years with the team in different scouting roles, most recently college scouting coordinator. Lastly, former scouting assistant Alex Valles has been made an area scout for the Cardinals.

Seahawks HC Pete Carroll On QB Competition

Geno Smith and Drew Lock have been engaged in a battle for the Seahawks’ starting quarterback job throughout the team’s spring work, and Smith has been taking the bulk of the first-team snaps. Head coach Pete Carroll, echoing offensive coordinator Shane Waldron‘s recent remarks, said that Smith continues to lead the race after mandatory minicamp, which took place last week.

“Geno’s still ahead, you can tell that,” Carroll said, via Liz Mathews of Seahawks Wire. However, like Waldron, Carroll was quick to point out that the competitors’ current status is largely a function of their familiarity with the offense. Smith has been with the club since 2019, and Lock was just acquired in March as part of the blockbuster trade that sent Russell Wilson to the Broncos.

Carroll added, “it’s not going to be too much for Drew to be caught up. By the time we get through [training] camp he’ll be there. He’s really bright. It makes sense to him. He’s really sharp in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage and all of that. So it’s just time that he needs, and there’s nothing we can do but gain some more of that.” 

As Mathews confirms, both Smith and Lock will get opportunities with the first-team offense when training camp opens in July. It has been reported that, despite Lock’s early-career struggles in Denver, Seattle brass truly believes that he can emerge as a legitimate NFL starter, and Albert Breer of SI.com recently detailed GM John Schneider‘s faith in the Missouri product. Breer expects Lock to be anointed the QB1 before the regular season begins, and given his age (25) and the upside that the organization apparently sees in him, it’s not difficult to see why.

The 31-year-old Smith, meanwhile, had started only two games from 2015-20 before being forced into action last year in the wake of Wilson’s finger injury. In four games (three starts) in 2021, the former Jets second-rounder performed reasonably well, completing over 68% of his passes for five TDs against just one interception, while adding nine carries for 42 yards and a TD. In all three of his starts, Smith posted QB ratings of at least 94.3.

Still, his age and limited usage make it clear that Smith is no longer viewed as a franchise passer. So it makes sense that the ‘Hawks would give Lock every opportunity to prove his worth in 2022, and if he cannot live up to his potential, Seattle will be in the market for a QB next offseason.

Carroll, though, is not tipping his hand. “It’s gonna be a real battle,” he said. “It’s going to be really an exciting time for our team and for those guys in particular and for our people watching. I’m pumped up about it. I really am.”

Of course, a possible Baker Mayfield acquisition continues to loom over the Lock-Smith duel. Although the Seahawks are not expected to trade for the disgruntled Browns passer, the team reportedly would be interested if Cleveland ultimately elects to cut him.

Latest On Seahawks’ QB Situation

Seattle made headlines in early March when they agreed to trade Russell Wilson to the Broncos in exchange for multiple draft picks, quarterback Drew Lock, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, and tight end Noah Fant. After losing their starter of the last ten years, the Seahawks are going through the motions now of determining who will be taking snaps from under center when the season starts this fall. 

Through Phase II of their offseason program, returning Seahawk Geno Smith has been taking the first snaps in drills, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Breer still expects Lock to emerge as the starter, in time, once he’s had the opportunity to make up ground as a newcomer to Seattle’s system.

The 31-year-old Smith returned to starting duties this past season for the first time since 2017 and for the first time in multiple games in a season since his sophomore year with the Jets all the way back in 2014. Smith signed with Seattle in 2019, spending two years as Wilson’s backup while only making an appearance in one game. Last season, though, saw Smith relieve Wilson when the latter suffered a finger injury in a Week 5 loss to the Rams.

Smith finished the game for Wilson and, when Wilson was put on injured reserve, Smith started the next three games for the Seahawks. Smith performed admirably in Wilson’s stead, completing 68.4% of his passes for 702 yards while tossing 5 touchdowns to 1 interception. He also added 42 yards and a touchdown on the ground in 9 carries. Even though the team went 1-2 with Smith as a starter, he kept the Seahawks competitive, not only proving that he still has some gas in the tank but showing some of the best football of his career to date.

Lock was a second-round pick for the Broncos back in 2019, a backup option to then-newly acquired starting quarterback Joe Flacco. Lock suffered a preseason thumb injury that landed him on injured reserve, returning to practice in mid-November. Flacco suffered a neck injury that would require surgery and after three games of Brandon Allen, Denver turned to their rookie coming off injured reserve.

Lock took the NFL-world by storm, winning four of the Broncos last five games of the season. In that stretch Lock completed 64.1% of his passes for 1,020 yards, throwing 7 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. Lock took on full-time starting duties in his sophomore season. His completion percentage dropped to 57.34% on the year and his interceptions caught up to his touchdowns as his touchdown-interception ratio read 16-15. In his 13 starts, the Bronco went just 4-9. Last season saw Lock lose the quarterback competition to Teddy Bridgewater. Lock appeared in injury relief in two games before a concussion to Bridgewater in Week 14 handed Lock the keys to the offense for the rest of the season. The Broncos would lose all three of Lock’s starts, in which he would show more of the same from his full season as a starter.

Breer sees Lock emerging as the starting quarterback because of reports from 2019 that general manager John Schneider “really liked Lock coming out” of college, adding that the inclusion of Lock in the trade deal was similar to Jared Goff‘s inclusion in the Matthew Stafford-trade Detroit made last year. Breer also points out that Lock’s offensive coordinator during the best stretch of his young career during that rookie season was Rich Scangarello, who ran a very similar offense to Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.

Behind Smith and Lock is the young Jacob Eason who failed to impress in very limited action with the Colts last year. The job will fall on the shoulders of either Smith or Lock, with Seahawks-fans likely hoping that Lock, the younger of the two, will establish himself as their future at the position.

Latest On Seahawks QB Competition

The Seahawks may be having an open competition for their starting QB spot. However, veteran Geno Smith‘s familiarity with the offense gives him the early lead over newcomer Drew Lock. During a recent radio appearance, Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron admitted that Smith is the current front runner for the starting gig.

“Right now, Geno has done such a good job of carrying over (the offensive principles from 2021). He already had a head start over Drew right there,” Waldron (h/t to Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “We have a long time to go. We are just in T-shirts and shorts right now, going against air. We have a long way to go to see where this competition (goes).”

The Seahawks were apart of the quarterback carousel when they dealt Russell Wilson to Denver, but they surprisingly haven’t been on the receiving end of the continuous turnover. The team has seemingly distanced themselves from available QBs like Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo, and they’re prepared to navigate this post-Wilson era with either Smith, who spent the last three seasons as Seattle’s backup, or Lock, a former second-round pick acquired in the Broncos trade.

It’s obviously in the organization’s best interest to develop the 25-year-old Lock vs. the 31-year-old Smith, although Lock’s impending free agency certainly adds some uncertainty to the situation. Lock has largely struggled as a starter, and while the ex-Mizzou prospect did play in two offensive systems in his first two years, Teddy Bridgewater beat him out for Denver’s QB1 job last year and held him off throughout the Broncos’ time in playoff contention. This came after the strong-armed passer tied for the 2020 interception lead, with 15, despite missing three-plus games. Smith has made five starts over the past seven seasons. Three of those came last season, with the former second-round pick did show some promise, completing 68% of his passes on 7.4 yards per attempt — numbers superior to his Jets-era work, albeit in a small sample size — and finishing with a 5-to-1 TD-INT ratio.