Geno Smith was one of the best stories in the NFL during the 2022 season.
On Monday, he and the Seahawks made sure he'll keep writing that story in Seattle.
Smith, who was set to become a free agent when the new league year began next week, agreed to terms on a contract extension with the Seahawks, answering the one of biggest questions Seattle was facing this offseason while also giving Smith his well-deserved financial reward 10 years into his career.
A 2013 second-round pick, Smith was a 2-year starter for the Jets before losing his starting job in 2015 not due to performance but because he broke his jaw in a locker-room altercation with a teammate. After that, Smith was unable to find an opportunity to start, spending his next seven seasons as a backup for the Jets, Giants, Chargers and Seahawks. Last year's trade that sent Russell Wilson to Denver opened the door for Smith to compete for the starting job, and he not only won the competition with Drew Lock, he went on to show the rest of the NFL what he knew he was capable of doing all along.
After winning NFC Offensive Player of the Week early in the season, Smith noted that if you were surprised by his success it was "because you’ve never seen me throw… I'm just playing ball, doing what I was supposed to do."
What Smith went on to do over the course of 17 games was show that, despite spending seven seasons as a backup, he was one of the league's elite quarterbacks. While helping the Seahawks bounce back from a down year and return to the playoffs, Smith led the NFL in completion percentage (69.8), finished fourth in the league in touchdown passes (30) and fifth in passer rating (100.9). Smith also set franchise records for completion percentage, completions (399), attempts (572) and passing yards (4,282), and became one of only three quarterbacks in team history, along with Wilson and Dave Krieg, to throw 30 or more touchdown passes in a season.
For his play, Smith earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his 10-year career, and was named the Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year, as well as Pro Football Writers of America's Comeback Player of the Year and Most Improved Player.
"This was really an incredible experience with a young guy that did some amazing things," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. "It's such a good story and it's just a real story, it really happened right before our eyes, a guy that kind of got knocked around and kind of got lost in the shuffle after a while…. Then the way he handled it with such class, character, makeup and competitiveness and, you know, beautiful come-through and athleticism, all that stuff is all part of the story. I think my favorite part of it though is how he handled it, that he was able to take this moment and capture it and he opened up to the club in terms of his leadership opportunities, and it was almost impeccably handled, orchestrated right out of the book—exactly how you'd like it to be."
As Carroll notes, how Smith handled his success was just as impressive as his play on the field. Given countless opportunities to scream "I told you so" or call out his many, many doubters, Smith continuously took the high road. Yes, there was his famous, "They wrote me off, I ain't write back though," line following Seattle's Week 1 win over the Broncos, but that was about as close as Smith came all year to saying I told you so. Smith also won over the locker room and became one of the team's leaders, and throughout all of his success, he maintained a remarkable level of perspective. Asked about the challenging career he has had and some of the tough breaks along the way, Smith pointed out that, in the grand scheme of things, being a backup quarterback in the NFL was hardly a struggle.
"I can't say it was tough, because I have been so blessed," Smith said. "Honestly, my tough times would be a dream to someone else. I never will look at it as something that was too hard for me or really tough because throughout that time, I was still enjoying my life and still in the NFL. For the most part, it was just feeling like there was a glass ceiling and you want to break that ceiling. It's like something hovering over you that you just want to break, so you can continue to grow further. For me, I just had to stay patient until I had the opportunity."
Smith shattered that glass ceiling in 2022, became a Pro-Bowler and the league's Comeback Player of the Year, and now, after agreeing to terms on a new deal, he'll continue his remarkable story in Seattle.
"He's such a cool guy," general manager John Schneider said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "… He's just a really, really unique individual and a great, great story. Awesome story for the Seahawks, obviously, and a great story for young people all around the country. What an inspiration just to pull through like that."
Take a look back at some of the best photos of Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith from the 2022 season.