Seahawks Predicted to Replace Geno Smith With Champion QB

Geno Smith

Getty The Seahawks could considering replacing Geno Smith with a rookie quarterback.

The Seattle Seahawks could soon be on the hunt for their new franchise quarterback as they usher in a new era without longtime head coach Pete Carroll.

In a CBS Sports mock draft, Josh Edwards projected the Seahawks would “start fresh” by selecting University of Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy with the 16th overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

“Seattle has a ceiling with Geno Smith at quarterback,” Edwards wrote on January 21. “It has a young roster and doesn’t want to be left holding the bag when it is finally time to move on. It may be time to start fresh with a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback.”

Why the Seahawks Could Draft a New Franchise Quarterback

The Seahawks have posted back-to-back winning seasons with Smith at quarterback. His 2022 season — which garnered him a Pro Bowl berth and Comeback Player of the Year honors — led to the veteran quarterback signing a three-year, $75 million deal in the offseason.

However, Smith’s play, based on his individual statistics, regressed in 2023. After leading the league in completion percentage (69.3%) in 2022, that number regressed to 64.7% in 2023 — which wasn’t even among the top 10 in the league. Furthermore, his passing touchdown total declined from 30 to 20 and the Seahawks missed the playoffs this season after clinching a wild card berth in 2022.

Why Seahawks Could Select J.J. McCarthy as Next Franchise QB

While the Seahawks would be taking a monumental leap by moving on from Smith to the rookie McCarthy in the offseason, they could save nearly $14 million this season while incurring a dead cap hit of $17.4 million. Smith’s overall dead cap hit would be roughly $26 million.

Selecting McCarthy at No. 16 overall would mean his cap hit would just under $3 million for the 2024 season.

McCarthy’s collegiate resume at Michigan is extensive — he won the national championship this past season after leading the Wolverines to an undefeated season. During his two years as the starting quarterback for the Wolverines, the 21-year-old went 27-1 as the starting quarterback.

The Draft Network’s Damian Parson projected McCarthy as a “high-ceiling” quarterback who will be selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft.

“McCarthy projects as a high-ceiling quarterback who has some development to undergo,” Parson wrote on January 17. “His experience running and executing NFL/pro-style concepts will help his transition to the NFL. His combination of arm talent, ball placement, and athleticism will be too enticing for teams to pass up in round one.”

McCarthy’s athleticism and mobility — a clear upgrade over Smith’s — could create and extend plays for playmakers such as DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

The Seahawks’ offensive line ranked 28th in pass blocking this season. In other words, their lack of consistency on the offensive line played a role in Smith’s decline. Having a mobile quarterback in play can cover up those weaknesses.

“McCarthy is a plus-athlete,” Parson wrote. “He is a real threat to hurt defenses with his running ability. An NFL offensive coordinator will have more options within the playbook to feature McCarthy in the running game. QB zone-reads, QB counters, etc. are available with him at the helm. He has a good level of elusiveness in the pocket to evade/avoid free-running defenders and climb the pocket. His athleticism creates second-reaction throws outside the pocket.”

It’s hard to envision the Seahawks fully moving on from Smith this offseason, especially considering he’s posted back-to-back winning seasons as a starting quarterback. But selecting McCarthy — or another quarterback — in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft is definitely on the table.

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