It was broadcast to the world as a three-year, $105 million contract. In reality, it can be as short as one year and $28 million.
In a structure similar to the contract the Raiders gave to Derek Carr a year ago — a contract the Raiders tore up after one season and $25 million — the Seahawks can move on from quarterback Geno Smith after one year and $28 million.
Although the initial indications were that the contract fully guaranteed $40 million at signing, the truth is (per a source with knowledge of the deal) that the number is only $27.3 million. The remaining $12.7 million becomes fully guaranteed in February 2024. And the Seahawks can cut him before then.
If they keep Smith beyond 2023, he gets another $22 million for 2024 and $25 million for 2025. As noted by Mike Garafolo of NFL Media, the incentive package comes in the form of escalators based on his performance in 2023 and 2024 — and the triggers are tied to his 2022 performance.
For each of five categories that he beats (yards, touchdowns, completion percentage, passer rating, and wins), Smith gets $2 million. If he exceeds his 2022 performance as to all five, he gets another $5 million.
So he can bump his 2024 salary by up to $15 million based on what he does in 2023, and he can increase his 2025 salary by up to $15 million based on what he does in 2024.
He had a strong 2022, making it harder to improve. He threw for 4,282 yards, 30 touchdown passes, completed 69.8 percent of his throws, generated a passer rating of 100.9, and won nine games.
Also, because the payments are escalators and not incentives, he only gets the money if the team actually keeps him. If, for example, he barely beats his 2022 performance in 2024 in all five categories and in turn bumps his salary to a non-guaranteed $42 million in 2025, that could actually work against him when the team decides whether to bring him back.
The contract also keeps the Seahawks firmly in play for drafting a rookie quarterback, whether with the fifth overall pick or a later selection. If they get someone they love in the draft, Geno’s stint as the Seattle starter could end at two seasons.