After the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp May 3-5, coach Pete Carroll assessed “it was hard” on all three of the quarterbacks in attendance, strongly hinting at the team making a change in the depth chart at that spot to add to the competition behind Russell Wilson and Paxton Lynch.
And two reports Monday morning, later confirmed by the Seattle Times, indicated the Seahawks have found their man to try to bolster the group — former New York Jets starter Geno Smith.
A report from ESPN’s Jordan Raanan on Monday said that Smith is “expected to sign” with Seattle soon. A follow-up from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport stated: “As of now, Geno Smith is set to visit the #Seahawks on Wednesday, source said. No contract talks yet, but a visit shows clear interest if everything checks out.”
A league source, though, told the Times that it is expected that Smith will sign with Seattle to join Lynch as competition for the backup spot behind Wilson, and a roster move the team made later in the day further foreshadowed the coming signing of Smith.
Following the draft, signed rookie undrafted free agent Taryn Christion of South Dakota as a presumptive third QB behind Wilson and Lynch heading into camp.
But his struggles in the rookie minicamp, as well as those of the other two tryout players there — which included former Husky Troy Williams — led the Seahawks to decide to go for now with two veterans to compete behind Wilson.
That became even more evident later Monday when the Seahawks waived Christion as part of moves made after the team officially announced the signing of defensive tackle Al Woods to the 90-man roster, after he agreed to terms Friday night. Seattle also waived tight end Mik’Qwan Deane, which leaves the roster at 89 as of Monday afternoon, with the open spot set to be used on Smith.
The 28-year old Smith was a second-round pick of the Jets in 2013 out of West Virginia and briefly regarded as the team’s future at that position, starting 29 games over the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
But he lost the starting spot in 2015 when he broke his jaw in a locker room fight with IK Enemkapli, with Ryan Fitzpatrick taking over during his injury and then keeping the starting job.
Smith, listed at 6-3, 220, then played in 2017 for the Giants and 2018 with the Chargers but has started just two games overall in the last four seasons.
Smith, though, did play substantially against Seattle in a preseason game last August, completing six of eight passes for 85 yards and a touchdown while also rushing twice for 14 yards in a 24-14 Chargers win.
Smith is 12-19 all-time as a starting quarterback with 29 TD passes and 36 interceptions while also having rushed for 661 yards and seven touchdowns.
Seattle signed Lynch, a 2016 first-round pick for Denver, in January, to compete as a backup to Wilson after having lost both of the other two QBs who ended last season on the roster — Brett Hundley and Alex McGough (who was on the practice squad) — to free agency.
Lynch, who played at Memphis, started four games for Denver in 2016 and 2017 — two in each season — with the Broncos going 1-3 in those starts. He also played in one other game, completing 79 of 128 passes for 792 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions in his two years with Denver. He sat out last season after being waived by Denver in the cutdown to the 53-man roster.
Seattle re-signed Wilson to a four-year contract extension worth up to $146 million in April, a contract that takes him through the 2023 season.
The apparent addition of Smith continues what has been a merry-go-round at the backup QB spot the last few years as the Seahawks have tried varying strategies for finding someone to be a suitable reserve for Wilson.
Tarvaris Jackson served as backup for three years, from 2013-15, after Wilson won the job in 2012.
In 2016 Seattle signed undrafted free agent Trevone Boykin and he served as the backup that year.
In 2017, Seattle added veteran Austin Davis and he won the backup job with Boykin remaining on the practice squad.
Boykin ran into legal trouble and was released in the spring of 2018. Davis remained on the roster but late in training camp Seattle traded a sixth-round pick for Hundley with Davis eventually waived. Seattle also drafted McGough out of Florida International in the seventh round. But it was McGough’s perceived unreadiness for the backup job that helped lead to the trade for Hundley.
Seattle, though, then lost both McGough and Hundley in free agency this spring, leading to the singing of Lynch, and now the expected signing of Smith.
Wilson has never missed a game with the Seahawks and took every snap for Seattle last season, 1.069, the only Seattle player on the field for every offensive play of 2018. He played all but five snaps in 2017, but only one due to injury, when he had to come out for one play at Arizona to be checked for a concussion.