Any quarterback who leads the league in completion percentage is in a pretty good place. When at least 20% of teams in the league are in the market for a new starting quarterback, any starting-caliber talent is in a really good place. Normally, there wouldn’t be much demand for a someone who has only made the playoffs once in 10 seasons but free agent quarterback Geno Smith guided a Seahawks team who started five rookies to unlikely playoff place. Smith was voted to his first Pro Bowl in his third season as a starting quarterback. The unusual thing about Smith’s season is that he hadn’t started since 2014.
Smith set a number of personal records in 2023. His 4,282 passing yards is 1,236 yards more than his previous best. He hadn’t thrown more than 13 touchdown passes in a single season before. In 2022 he found the endzone 30 times and scored a rushing touchdown too. His 366 rushing yards is the most since he recorded 366 as a Jet in his rookie season. Any fears about his durability at 32 years old will be dissuaded by the fact that also took a career high 46 sacks and still started all 17 games. The Seahawks have cap space and could easily create more by reworking a few contracts, but Smith could choose to take his talents elsewhere if Seattle doesn’t use the franchise tag. Which teams would be interested in an experienced signal caller who can run and pass though?
Top Five Geno Smith Free Agent Landing Spots, Ranked
1. Seattle Seahawks
The obvious place for Geno Smith to play in 2023 is Seattle. Pete Carroll has said “We need to hopefully work things out” when asked about re-signing the quarterback. The Seahawks do have around $32 million in cap space. Smith isn’t their only free agent though. They have 24 other free agents and nine draft picks who potentially need signing. If Smith is looking for job security (and, after playing for four teams in six seasons he should be) he’ll take some persuading to sign a franchise tag deal. If the Seahawks throw money at Smith then they won’t be able to invest in their defense and offensive line so it’s a tricky balancing act.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With TB12 retiring again, maybe even forever this time, Tompa Bay is no more. The Buccaneers do have Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask signed through next year. However, Gabbert has 13 career wins in 11 years and Trask has three completions in his NFL career. The Bucs should be looking for a quarterback. They do have the 19th pick in the draft but popular opinion suggests the talented quarterbacks will all go in the top 9 picks. If they don’t trade up in the draft they will have to dip into the free agent market, and Geno Smith might be the best option out there.
3. Carolina Panthers
David Tepper’s Panthers are nothing if not unpredictable. Steve Wilkes improved the team and people expected him to be appointed full-time coach but Tepper went with Frank Reich instead. So anything could happen with their quarterback situation. What is certain is that Sam Darnold and P.J Walker are both free agents so they need to find a quarterback somewhere. The Panthers do have the ninth overall pick in the draft but if Tepper wants to win now he’ll be eyeing an experienced quarterback.
4. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens also have two quarterbacks headed into free agency in March. Not only is Lamar Jackson also out of contract he may be out of favour too. Tyler Huntley is also out of contract but will be eminently cheaper to re-sign. If Jackson is still insisting he be paid $230 million the Ravens may well chose to look elsewhere. Baltimore cut ties with offensive coordinator Greg Roman at the end of the season the Ravens could be interested in a more pass oriented attack going forward.
5. Las Vegas Raiders
It seems the Raiders have finally lost patience with Derek Carr. Jarrett Stidham started the Raiders last two games of the season ahead of Carr. Stidham is out of contract now. They may have given Stidham a chance to find out if he’s worth re-signing. They did lose both those games and Stidham threw three interceptions and fumbled three times. Even though he played against the 49ers and Chiefs it wasn’t impressive. The Raiders have the 7th pick in this year’s draft but they also have lots of holes to fill. A rookie quarterback probably won’t be an upgrade from Carr either.
Las Vegas are rumored to be in the market for Aaron Rodgers but they’re not owned by a multi-billionaire, he may be too expensive. Reuniting Rodgers with Davante Adams must appeal to McDaniels but Smith will be about $20 million cheaper.
Both the Texans and the Jets are in the market for a new quarterback too. They both have young quarterbacks who would benefit from a veteran presence to learn from. Smith has been around the block more than a couple of times and gone from a starter to a backup so he’s ideally suited as a mentor. It appears the Texans will draft a quarterback in the first round but that would mean they would have four quarterbacks on their roster with 13 wins between them.
Robert Saleh’s Jets have two elite offensive tackles, a young, star running back and a defense that allowed just 18.6 points per game in 2022. They also have a young quarterback nobody can stand and who made headlines in the 2022 offseason as his exploits with a friend’s mother hit the front pages. Mike White and Joe Flacco are also out of contract, so they’ve technically only got one quarterback and no one likes him. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Zach Wilson could develop into a fine starting quarterback in the NFL but it would benefit everyone if the Jets took him away from the spotlight for a least a season. Smith is no stranger to controversy in New York, his career as Jets starter after a teammate punched him in the face and broke his jaw.
There’s certainly a lot of teams in the market for a new quarterback. Even more may look to make a change to suite their new coaches. As many as 10 teams could have a new starter come September and they could all do lot worse than paying Geno.
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