Saturday, June 3 2023

Tyler Lockett doesn’t want to see Geno Smith leave.

It would be an understatement to say the Seattle Seahawks quarterback enjoyed unexpected success this season. Few saw it coming. That’s how he won the NFL’s comeback Player of the Year Award. And he did it on a one-year contract that will expire in March.

How would Lockett feel about Smith and the Seahawks hammering out an extension?

“I think it’d be dope, man,” Lockett told FOX Sports last Friday in Phoenix during an event for his agency, Athletes First. “Being able to play with him this year — that was super fun. It was something that you don’t take for granted because you never know how many opportunities we have to play this game. But he played phenomenal this year. … And you know I’m not a part of the business or any of this decision-making of course, but it would be amazing if Geno could come back and still play with this.”


Smith finished the season with 4,282 passing yards (eighth in the NFL), 30 passing touchdowns (fourth) and 11 interceptions (tied for 22nd). He led the Seahawks to a 9-8 record in the NFC West and started in Seattle’s only postseason game, a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

“I don’t think there’s really much that caught me by surprise. I mean, that was my expectation of him, was exactly what he did,” Lockett said.

Lockett didn’t skip a beat without Russell Wilson. In 2022, Smith and Lockett linked up for 84 catches, 1,033 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

“For me, it was about, ‘Okay, let me build the chemistry with him. Let me figure out how he thinks, how we interact, how he plays the game. And let me see how we can find a middle ground with how we both do it,'” Lockett said. “There’s times where mistakes were made, but we continued to grow through it and we continued to learn from it. And like I said, I mean we develop that type of rapport where I’m excited if he comes back again.”

Seahawks QB Geno Smith wins the ‘NFL on FOX’ Comeback Player of the Year Award

Smith made approximately $7.5 million in 2023 after incentives, per Spotrac. In his previous three seasons with Seattle, he made a total of $3.2 million as the team’s backup. He figures to be on the verge of an enormous raise. The Seahawks could elect to use the franchise tag, essentially a one-year deal worth $32.4 million. There’s a real possibility they do exactly that. But they’d surely prefer to avoid such a large lump sum from hitting their cap in 2023. An extension makes the most sense.

So the question is how much he can command in extension talks.

The Seahawks have $31 million in cap space. They can absolutely afford to retain him. But they’d certainly prefer to bring him back at a discount.

The Seahawks have an interesting leverage point: Wilson. His stunning decline in 2022 might be a point upon which Seattle harps during negotiations with Smith. The logic would be that the Seahawks have a habit of making quarterbacks look better than they are. And because they reignited Smith’s career out of nowhere, they should be able to do the same with the next guy — whoever it may be. And Smith hasn’t had success anywhere but Seattle.

For Smith, however, he took a Seahawks team to the playoffs in a year when no one expected it. Combine that and his impressive statistics and you’ve got a quarterback who should be able to demand serious money. And maybe — just maybe — he’ll draw interest on the open market from the quarterback-needy teams.

And there is no shortage of teams that need a signal-caller — the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets may have interest in a QB this offseason.

It’s basically a third of the league.

But how many teams actually have enough faith to pay Smith like a starting QB?

The 2023 NFL draft will yield at least four first-round QBs. (Incidentally, Rob Rang’s draft-eligible QB rankings are live!)

Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold are set to hit the open market. Aaron Rodgers remains a hypothetical prize in the trade market.

Should Jets want Derek Carr or Aaron Rodgers next season?

Emmanuel Acho, Joy Taylor, and David Helman discuss whether the New York Jets should want former Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr or current Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers next season.

Could Smith go for a number comparable to Ryan Tannehill’s contract: $29.5 million per year? Or might Geno have to stomach something less — more like Jameis Winston’s deal worth $15 million per year? My sense is that the value will be somewhere between the two — maybe in the neighborhood of $25 million per year for a two- or three-year deal.

It’s not a perfect deal for either side. But that’s when you know it’s right. My sense is that both parties will see that’s the fair market — and Smith will be a Seahawk again in 2023.

Prior to joining FOX Sports as the AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.

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