SEATTLE — If Geno Smith has a strong enough encore for his Returning Player of the Year season, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback can earn significantly more than the $25 million-per-year base value of his three-year contract and $75 million.
If not, it could end up being a one-year deal worth $27.3 million.
Those are the two biggest takeaways now that all the details have emerged, revealing plenty of realistic upsides for Smith and just as much flexibility for the Seahawks, thanks to their $10.1 million salary-cap number for 2023 and no fully guaranteed money beyond. of the first year of the deal. In fact, Smith is “playing a little … with himself,” as coach Pete Carroll said last week.
The team-friendly structure of his contract suggests the Seahawks could still spend an early pick on a quarterback. And while nothing in Smith’s game seemed untenable during his 2022 Pro Bowl season, it’s possible Seattle could put him behind him next year if he were to step back.
Initial reports that Smith was signing for $105 million included the $30 million in additional money he can earn beyond the base value of $75 million. Smith secures $40 million in general guarantees, of which $27.3 million is fully guaranteed at signing. That’s via a $26.1 million signing bonus and a $1.2 million base salary for 2023 that’s immediately guaranteed on skill, injury and salary-cap basis. A base salary of $12.7 million for 2024, guaranteed for injuries at signing, makes up the remainder of the $40 million.
While that follows the standard guarantee structure for Seahawks big-money contracts, the escalating roster bonuses in the Smith deal are extremely rare, if not unique.
Smith’s roster bonuses are worth $9.6 million in 2024 and $10 million in 2025. Each expires on the fifth day of its respective league year, which begins with the start of free agency in mid-March, as long as Smith is on Seattle’s roster on that date. . Each roster bonus can increase by up to $15 million based on performance ladders from the previous season, which make up the additional $30 million available in the deal.
Smith can increase his roster bonus for the following year by $2 million for each of these categories in which he matches or exceeds his 2022 production: passing yards (4,282), touchdown passes (30), completion rate (69,755 %) and passer rating ( 100.874). Another $2 million is available if Seattle makes the playoffs or wins at least 10 regular-season games, as long as Smith plays at least 80% of the offensive snaps. If Smith reaches five benchmarks and the Seahawks reach the Super Bowl, next season’s roster bonus increases by another $5 million.
These are different from incentive bonuses like the $3.5 million Smith earned last season on his one-year contract. It’s a key distinction, because while Smith was certain to receive that money by the time he reached the benchmarks for those incentives, he would have to stay on the Seattle roster past the expiration date of his bonus in order to cash out. on the escalators you are on. 2023 and ’24.
“I just believe in my ability,” Smith said last week, when asked why he feels comfortable betting himself with such a contract structure. “I think with the guys around me, with the coaches that we have… I think the future is very bright for us. So with the contract and the incentives, it’s obviously a way that both parties can make it work.” . It gives the team room and space to do what they need to do, but it also gives me the opportunity to be a top-10 paid quarterback, which is something I think I am.
“So with all of that stuff, I think it worked out pretty well.”
Here’s the year-by-year breakdown of Smith’s settlement:
Smith’s cap number ranks 19th among quarterbacks for 2023, according to Spotrac.com. It’s made up of his prorated $26.1 million signing bonus ($8.7 million over three seasons), his $1.2 million base salary and $200,000 training bonus. The Seahawks don’t normally include training bonuses in their contracts, but they did in this one.
Base salary: $12.7 million (guaranteed for injuries at firm)
List Bonus: $9.6 million (can scale up to $24.6 million)
Training Bonus: $200,000
cap number: $31.2 million
Smith’s base salary will be fully guaranteed (meaning skill and cap, as well as injury) on the fifth day of the 2024 league year’s exemption period, six days after the Super Bowl, provided he is still in his list at that time. Giving him up before then would incur $17.4 million in dead money (which Seattle could spread over two seasons) and save at least $13.8 million against the 2024 salary cap. The $31.2 million cap number only includes the $9.6 million listing bonus for now. It would increase based on the performance ladders Smith reaches in 2023, provided he is still on the roster on day five of the 2024 league year.
Base salary: $14.8 million
List Bonus: $10 million (can scale up to $25 million)
Training Bonus: $200,000
cap number: $33.7 million
Again, Smith’s salary cap number would increase based on the performance ladders he reaches in 2024, as long as he’s still on the roster by the fifth day of the 2025 league year. the 2024 season and that mid-March date, they would save at least $25 million in cash and cap space while incurring an $8.7 million dead money charge, which is the remaining proration of their signing bonus.