Geno Smith has officially been rewarded for his performance during the 2022 NFL season. The Seahawks signed the veteran quarterback to a three-year contract extension after Smith led the team to a surprising postseason berth in his first full season as the team’s starter.
Not much was expected of Smith when Seattle named him the starting quarterback ahead of the campaign. He hadn’t been a full-time starter since 2014 — his second season in the NFL after being a second-round pick by the Jets in 2013 — and he had failed to find success during that time.
Even still, Pete Carroll was willing to trust Smith. It paid off, and now, Smith and the Seahawks are extending their relationship for another three seasons.
Some may question Seattle’s decision to give Smith a nine-figure deal after just one successful season as a starter. However, there’s no doubt that Seattle’s decision to pay Smith will be a better one than Denver’s decision to give former Seahawks starter Russell Wilson a five-year megadeal.
How exactly does Geno Smith’s contract compare to that of Russell Wilson? Here’s a look at the deals that each signed with their respective clubs and how each performed last season.
MORE: Why Geno Smith’s Comeback Player of the Year campaign shouldn’t have been so surprising
Geno Smith contract details
Smith signed a three-year contract extension with the Seahawks worth up to $105 million in total. The contract will pay him $35 million in average annual value (AAV) tied for the 10th-most lucrative contract among NFL quarterbacks with Kirk Cousins.
Before signing his new contract with the Seahawks, Smith had made $17.55 million in career earnings over his 10-year career. He will more than triple that figure in the first year of his new deal; he will make a whopping $52 million in the first year of his contract, per Jordan Schultz of The Score.
It isn’t yet clear how much of Smith’s deal will be guaranteed, nor has the full structure of it been reported.
Either way, Seahawks fans will largely be happy to see the terms of Smith’s new deal. Not only did the 32-year-old earn it after his terrific, Comeback Player of the Year-worthy season, but it also is a much more cost-effective measure for the Seahawks than the megadeal signed by their former starting quarterback Russell Wilson.
MORE: Saints win Derek Carr sweepstakes over Jets, Panthers
Russell Wilson contract details
Wilson was traded from the Seahawks to the Broncos last offseason after he spent 10 years with the organization. He was supposed to be a big upgrade for the Broncos, and they paid him commensurately.
Even after sending multiple draft assets and three players to Seattle for Wilson, the Broncos gave him a five-year extension worth just under $242.6 million.
The contract made Wilson the NFL’s second-highest-paid quarterback league-wide in terms of AAV at just over $48.5 million per season. He received $161 million in guarantees as a part of the contract.
Wilson’s extension has yet to officially kick in, as he still has one year left on the contract extension he signed with the Seahawks in 2019. Below is a breakdown of what the Broncos will owe Wilson over the next six seasons, per Spotrac.com.
|Year||Base salary||Bonuses||Cap hit||Dead cap|
The Broncos certainly have some buyer’s remorse after Wilson struggled immensely during the 2022 season. They are married to him long-term, however, and will now hope that Sean Payton can breathe some life back into Wilson’s career after he floundered under Nathaniel Hackett.
But even if he does bounce back, it might be hard for him to reach the level that Smith did with the Seahawks in 2022.
MORE: Russell Wilson denies report that he asked Seahawks to fire Pete Carroll
Geno Smith stats vs. Russell Wilson stats
Many expected that Wilson would provide the Broncos with an upgrade at quarterback while Smith would prove to be one of the NFL’s worst starters for the Seahawks.
Instead, the opposite ended up happening. Wilson endured what was easily the worst season of his career and was one of the league’s worst starting quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Smith surprised everyone in Seattle, leading the league in completion percentage and earning a Pro Bowl nod for the first time in his career.
Below is a look at how the duo compared statistically during the season.
|Stat||Geno Smith||Russell Wilson|
|PFF grade||79.3 (9th of 39 QBs)||66.2 (29th of 39 QBs)|
Not only did Smith outplay Wilson, he also led the Seahawks to a 9-8 record in 17 starts and a playoff berth. Comparatively, Wilson posted a 4-11 record in 15 starts and led the Broncos to a bottom-five NFL finish.
The stark difference in the performance of the two quarterbacks further clarifies what was already understood at the time of the Wilson trade. Seattle got a strong return for their franchise quarterback and was able to avoid a true rebuild because of it.
Russell Wilson trade details
The Wilson trade was arguably the most prominent quarterback move of the 2022 NFL offseason. He was traded to the Broncos along with a fourth-round pick on March 16, 2022, while three players and five draft picks went back to the Seahawks.
Below is a recap of what was exchanged in the Wilson deal:
- QB Russell Wilson
- 2022 fourth-round pick (DT Eyioma Uwazurike)
- QB Drew Lock
- DT Shelby Harris
- TE Noah Fant
- 2022 first-round pick (OT Charles Cross)
- 2022 second-round pick (EDGE Boye Mafe)
- 2022 fifth-round pick (EDGE Tyreke Smith & WR Dareke Young)
- 2023 first-round pick
- 2023 second-round pick
MORE: Full list of players involved in the Russell Wilson trade
Nearly a year after the trade, it’s clear that the Seahawks won this trade. Trading Wilson allowed them to re-sign Geno Smith on the cheap while building a talented roster around him. And they got at least four key players from their deal with Denver.
Both Harris and Fant became immediate starters for the Seahawks and served as solid role players on each side of the ball. Elsewhere, Cross was Seattle’s starting left tackle from his first day onward while Mafe racked up 41 tackles and three sacks as a rookie.
That said, the deal is still paying off, as the Seahawks have a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and four of the first 52 selections overall. That will allow them to continue building around Smith.
General manager John Schneider deserves a lot of credit for getting this type of return for Wilson. Even if Seattle wasn’t expecting that precipitous of a decline from its former starter, Schneider was able to turn a depreciating asset on a bloated deal into several starters and high-end draft assets.
And to boot, he found a quarterback more than capable of replacing Wilson for half of the price.