NFL free agency is off and running, and we’re keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2023 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year begins at4 p.m. ET on March 15, which means free agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2023 NFL draft begins April 27 on ESPN.
The Seattle Seahawks decided not to let Geno Smith hit free agency. The Seahawks reached a three-year, $105 million contract agreement with their Pro Bowl quarterback, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Adam Schefter on Monday. Smith’s backup, Drew Lock, is set to enter free agency. The Seahawks have said that re-signing both quarterbacks would be an “ideal situation,” though Lock may want to test the free agency waters and see if there is a starting job up for grabs.
The Seahawks will need to address their inconsistent defense in the offseason, though they are loaded with draft capital — including the No. 5 overall pick — thanks to the Wilson trade. The team has already re-signed kicker Jason Myers, right guard Phil Haynes and special teams captain Nick Bellore.
Here’s a breakdown of every 2023 NFL free agent signing by the Seahawks and how each will impact the upcoming season:
Geno Smith, QB
The Seahawks and Smith have reached an agreement on a three-year, $105 million contract, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Adam Schefter on Monday.
What it means: Smith’s remarkable comeback story continues with a massive deal from the Seahawks. The timing suggests there was motivation to get it done before Tuesday’s franchise tag deadline. By getting it done now, the Seahawks avoid what would have been two undesirable alternatives — having to tag Smith or letting him hit free agency, which would have made it difficult to sign other free agents without knowing how Smith’s situation would be resolved. The full details have yet to emerge, but it’s a safe bet that Seattle is committing to Smith for at least the next two seasons. Even so, that won’t necessarily preclude the Seahawks from spending a first-round pick on a quarterback next month. A front-seven defender, however, seems more likely at No. 5 overall — especially if Seattle re-signs Drew Lock to remain Smith’s backup.
What’s the risk: It’s not yet clear how much the Seahawks are guaranteeing Smith or whether incentives are included in the $105 million, in which case his actual average per year would be lower than $35 million. Either way, the risk is committing big money to Smith based on his excellent 2022 season alone and not a larger body of work as a starter. But as impossible as it was to see it coming, there was nothing about Smith’s play last season that looked unsustainable. He was the NFL’s most accurate quarterback, leading the NFL in completion percentage. Some of his late-season mistakes could be partly attributed to trying to do too much to account for a struggling defense. It’s fair to wonder if Smith can replicate his 2022 play, but it’s also reasonable to think he’ll be better with a full offseason of No. 1 reps (he shared them with Lock in 2022) and a year as a starter in Shane Waldron’s offense under his belt.
Phil Haynes, G
Haynes signed a one-year deal worth up to $4 million, the team announced on Feb. 21.
What it means: Paying Haynes $4 million for 2023 means he’s most likely going to become a full-time starter and that veteran Gabe Jackson is almost certainly going to be released. Jackson has been the starter at right guard, but he and Haynes shared time last year as part of a planned rotation. Sticking with the 27-year-old Haynes over Jackson is the sensible move considering he’s younger, healthier and had the better season in terms of ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate. Re-signing him to a one-year deal doesn’t necessarily preclude Seattle from spending a Day 2 pick on a guard, since both he and left guard Damien Lewis are unsigned beyond 2023.
What’s the risk: Haynes hasn’t been a full-time starter in any of his four NFL seasons and has made only five career starts, so the Seahawks are betting that he can take a step forward in an increased role. It’s a worthwhile gamble, since they’re only guaranteeing him $3.49 million for one season (he has to stay healthy in order to make the remaining $510,000 in per-game roster bonuses). Releasing Jackson would save $6.5 million in cash and cap space while incurring nearly $4.8 million in dead money, so there’s a net savings in going from Jackson to Haynes.
Jason Myers, K
Myers signed a four-year deal, the team announced on Jan. 18. The deal is worth up to $22.6 million with incentives, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
What it means: Myers is staying put after the second Pro Bowl season of his career, and he’s doing so with a nice raise. His four-year, $21.1 million deal makes him the NFL’s second-highest-paid kicker behind Justin Tucker based on its $5.275 million average (up from $3.8625 APY on his last deal). The fact that this was the first order of offseason business for the Seahawks, coming together less than a week after their playoff loss, shows how much of a priority it was. They weren’t going to let Myers sniff free agency after he made 34 of 37 field goals in 2022, including 6-of-6 from 50-plus yards.
What’s the risk: If the trend of Myers’ career doesn’t change, he’s due for a down season. Kickers’ performances are often volatile year over year, and Myers is a striking example. He’s alternated between strong and relatively poor seasons every year since he made the Pro Bowl in 2018. The Seahawks are making a big bet that he’ll end that odd trend. They could get out of his contract after one season if he struggles in 2023, but the cap penalties they’d incur by doing so suggest they’re committing to Myers for at least the next two years.