Seattle kicked their 2022 offseason off with a quarterback battle between Geno Smith and Drew Lock for starter. After earning the starting job and the 2022 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award, Smith is still humble, yet all-the-more motivated.
Following Day 1 of Seattle's OTA workouts, Smith took the podium to discuss his motivation to get better—and extend his playing days past his 40th birthday.
Smith quickly shook the rust off last year, eight seasons since he was last a starter, leading the league with a career-high 69.8 completion percentage. The West Virginia alum earned his first Pro Bowl nod, throwing for 4,282 passing yards and 30 touchdowns. Throughout his rise from longtime journeyman to leading Seattle to the NFC Wild Card, Smith remained humble, and appreciative for the opportunity to turn his career around. In April, Smith penned a letter via the Players Tribune to 12s across the globe.
"And that's the energy I'm trying to take with me into next season," Smith wrote in that letter. "I really don't know what the future holds — but I know I control my own destiny again. And I know I didn't make it this far just to lose. I want to WIN, and I want to live up to the legacies of the great Seahawks players who paved the way here: Russ, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, Walter Jones, Shaun Alexander, Warren Moon, all those guys. Maybe even more than that, I want to be an example for anyone who might've gotten knocked down from their goals. Not even just in the NFL, but in life — anyone who might be feeling like a disappointment, or who might be getting pegged as someone who can't achieve certain things. Maybe they can look at me and say, Geno... he kept grinding. He kept believing in himself. And eventually he found a city that believes in him back."
In addition to bringing back Smith, Seattle re-signed Lock and brought in East Carolina undrafted free agent quarterback Holton Ahlers. And despite establishing himself as a Pro Bowl quarterback last year, Smith isn't approaching this offseason any differently than he did last year when he was battling Lock for the starting job.
"In my mind, no," said Smith when asked if this offseason felt different. "If it is different, I'm just going to work harder to get better. That's really it. But in my mind, I feel the same mentality. Drew and I, and Holton, we're competing our butts off. There's competition every day, so we're trying to see who's the best quarterback out there on the field every time."
Obviously, Seattle has future plans for the 32-year-old, but optimism is high for Smith, who believes his career is just getting started. NFL veteran and CBS analyst Rich Gannon was 37-years-old when he led the then-Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl XXXVII appearance and took home the 2002 NFL Offensive MVP Award. NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner went from a grocery store bagger to a star, after shining in the Arena Football League and earning a spot with the-then St. Louis Rams at 27 in 1998. Warner would lead the “Greatest Show On Turf” to the Rams’ first Super Bowl victory in 2000, earning Super Bowl XXXIV MVP honors.
"I do feel I can play past 40," said Smith. "Obviously, a lot of hard work is going to go into that. I'm striving for it, but we'll see."
Smith discussed the return of former captain and fan favorite linebacker Bobby Wagner to the team after re-signing, as the Utah State alum prepares to turn 33 in June.
"It was awesome," said Smith. "Just to see Bobby in our uniform again, not in that ugly 45, it's great to see him across the line of scrimmage again. I'd gotten used to that, and last year was different. It's great to have him back, such a tremendous leader. Obviously, a legendary Seahawk, and someone that we hold dear. So, we're happy to have him."
Smith's combination of humility and determination have proven to be a winning combination, as Seattle continues to build a championship contender.
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Seahawks players participated in the first OTA of the 2023 offseason on May 22 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Wash.