PALM BEACH, Fla.—The Seahawks will have a new starting quarterback in 2022, that much became certain after Russell Wilson was traded to Denver earlier this offseason.
What remains to be seen, however, is who will take over the starting job that Wilson held for the past decade, and while the Seahawks currently have only two quarterbacks on the roster, Drew Lock and Jacob Eason, Pete Carroll made it clear while talking to the media Tuesday at the Annual League Meeting that he expects an open competition at that spot involving multiple quarterbacks.
Carroll hopes one of those quarterbacks added to the competition will be Geno Smith, who was Wilson's backup each of the past three seasons and who is currently a free agent, and the plan is to also bring in at least one more quarterback even if Smith is back.
"If it all gets set up like it should happen, it's going to be a very competitive opportunity," Carroll said.
Carroll compared the situation to the one the Seahawks faced heading into the 2012 season when they signed Matt Flynn in free agency to compete with incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson, then drafted Wilson in the third round, setting up a three-man competition that Wilson eventually won.
"I'm going to look at this thing very much like we did years ago and structure it so everybody gets a great shot at it as best we can," Carroll said. "That's what competition is all about. I've got to give them the opportunity by presenting it."
Asked about re-signing Smith, Carroll said, "It just hasn't happened. It's a negotiation… It would be a shame if he misses this opportunity. He has invested a lot with us, he knows our system the best. He performed well at it once he got going last year. Can he take off from where he finished up?"
After three years as a clear backup behind an established, Pro-Bowl starter, Smith would come in with a legit shot to win the starting job should he re-sign, which is why Carroll is optimistic he will be back, but the Seahawks also know they have to prepare for a scenario in which Smith were to sign elsewhere.
"The opportunity he has been waiting for has finally arrived, so I just can't imagine he's going to miss it, but we've got to get it done still," Carroll said. "We've got to keep working it in case it doesn't happen. We're competing there."
Check out photos of Head Coach Pete Carroll at the Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida on March 29, 2022.
And even if Smith were to re-sign, the Seahawks likely wouldn't be done adding to that position, looking to add a fourth quarterback either in free agency, the draft or perhaps even a trade.
"We are totally in that mentality that the fourth guy may be important to us," Carroll said. "We're definitely still in the quarterback business."
As for Lock, the quarterback the Seahawks already added this season as part of the Wilson trade, Carroll has high expectations for the former second-round pick who had an up-and-down three years in Denver.
"When Drew came out of college, we made our assessments evaluating for the draft and all that, we saw him as a big, strong-armed mobile, aggressive, athletic quarterback," Carroll said. "He had thrown a ton of footballs, he had been in a very aggressive program where you got to see him do everything—they used the entire field—we saw all of that stuff and really liked what we saw. We can still see that. We see that right now when we watch the film. Unfortunately for him, his play has come about where there have been a lot of turnovers in his game, and that just doesn't fit with us, but we just have to fix that. We have to change his mentality and do the things that we can do to help him be at his best.
"There's nothing that we see there that doesn't show us the potential is there. He's in a developmental mode as he enters our program, but yet he has already been through three years of in and out of activity; he's played a lot of football. So we think we can capitalize on that. Really, what we're seeing now, we see all upside."
And while Lock has yet to take part in a practice with his new team, Carroll has been impressed with his initial interactions with his team's newest quarterback.
"He's a really good guy," Carroll said. "He's really balanced. He's got a clear mentality about him. He's a positive, optimistic kid. He's looking forward to being a great player. That's what he was coming into the league; that's the only way he's ever known himself. He's been in kind of a mode where he has not able to recognize the person that he knows himself to be. So he's really driven to take in all of the information. He's doing everything right. He's doing everything right. So I can't wait until he starts strong with our guys and we get some feedback on that—just how they sense him. But we know that he's presenting himself to be successful. He's doing everything he needs to do."