The Seattle Seahawks have a Pro Bowl quarterback in Geno Smith, on Monday with a three-year, $105 million contract to prevent him from hitting the open market as a free agent. Yet, with Seattle holding a top-five pick for the first time in the Pete Carroll-John Schneider era (since 2010), the head coach and the general manager are relishing the opportunity to potentially select one of the 2023 NFL Draft's top passers.
"We are totally connected to the quarterbacks that are coming out," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said on Feb. 28 at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, via ESPN. "This is a really huge opportunity for us. It's a rare opportunity. We've been drafting in the low 20's for such a long time. You just don't get the chance with these guys. So we're deeply involved with all that."
Carroll is far from ruling out drafting a quarterback in the first round, saying the opportunity to add a rookie signal-caller to the squad is "absolutely there."
"We can do whatever we need to do, which is a whole other discussion that's really exciting," he said, via the team's official website. "The coaches are working at it, and the scouts are working at it to try to position this thing -- when you're at five, this is different than what we're used to seeing. This is really fun, because you can pretty much predict what's going to happen with four different choices, so which one is it?"
The only reason the Seahawks, a playoff team in 2022, are selecting fifth overall is because of their trade with the Broncos that sent their longtime face-of-the-franchise quarterback Russell Wilson to Denver in exchange for three players (QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant and DL Shelby Harris) along with five draft picks (two firsts, two seconds and one fifth). The Broncos went 5-12 in Wilson's first year in Denver, a season in which Wilson had career lows in completion percentage (60.5%), passing touchdowns (15) and passer rating (84.4).
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The last time the Seahawks were picking in the top five was 2009, when they selected Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry fourth overall. Carroll and Schneider joined the franchise the following season. Having reached the postseason 10 times in 13 years has precluded them from picking in a realistic spot to land a draft's top-billed quarterback prospects. The front office doing their due diligence on the draft's top passers given this rare opportunity.
"A lot," Schneider said at the combine on February 28 when asked how much the Seahawks are digging into the upcoming crop of quarterbacks. "Every year, honestly, we really look at it a lot. Like I said earlier, we haven't picked fifth overall since we've been here. So yeah, I got out to see a lot of quarterbacks this year. It was pretty fun. But honestly, every year we've tried to do that, and we've tried to add quarterbacks."
However, if the team does take a quarterback, that player may have to sit behind Smith, who is coming off a career year in which he set the Seahawks single-season records for completion percentage (69.8%) and passing yards (4.282).
Geno Smith's 2022 season
* Seahawks' single-season record
In addition to their two first round picks, the fifth overall and 20th overall selections, the Seahawks also possess an additional second round pick from Denver, giving them plenty of ammo to even trade up if the right deal presents itself. When asked about the logic in taking a top-five quarterback while simultaneously re-signing Smith, Schneider highlighted the importance of the league's most valuable position.
"Because they [quarterbacks] don't grow on trees," Schneider said. "It's probably the hardest position to acquire a talent, a guy that everybody feels very confident in."
Whether or not the Seahawks find themselves in a position to select a quarterback they feel confident in, they can sleep soundly knowing they haveto make significant improvements up and down their roster.