Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been clear all offseason that the team's plans at quarterback included Geno Smith, and with the offseason workout program starting Tuesday, the team made it official, re-signing the veteran quarterback who spent the past three seasons as the backup to Russell Wilson.
With players back at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, the Seahawks also made official the re-signing of eight players who were either restricted free agents or exclusive rights free agents: receiver Penny Hart, guard Phil Haynes, defensive tackle Bryan Mone, linebacker Tanner Muse, safety Ryan Neal, cornerback John Reid, linebacker Jon Rhattigan and center Dakoda Shepley.
Smith, a 2013 second-round pick and former starter for the New York Jets, started three games last season in place of an injured Wilson, completing 68.4 percent of his passes while throwing five touchdowns with one interception, giving him a 103.0 passer rating. After a pair of 3-point loses in his first two starts, Smith helped lead a dominant win over Jacksonville, going 20 for 24 for 195 yards, two touchdowns and a 128.3 passer rating.
"He's invested a lot with us, he knows our system the best," Carroll said at last month's NFL annual meeting. "He performed well at it once he got going last year. Can he take off from where he finished up? Unfortunately, the Jacksonville game was his last game, and it was almost a perfect football game for us. We have very high hopes that he can run the system really well.
"The things that Geno has presented to us is his consistency, and really the loyalty of being part of our program when it comes to this time of year and we have to make a decision—does he want come back again and stay with us? Over the last few years, he's always wanted to be here. He liked where he was. He liked the relationship he had with the coaches and myself and the program and all of that. He's just been really upbeat and positive. He's shown that when he finally got his opportunity—I mean, he sat forever, it's been like four years since he really got a chance to play—so the couple games it took him to get started were very difficult games, and we had weather conditions, we were on the road and all that, and we almost pulled every one of those games off. He showed he was capable, that he could hang in there. When he got two games under his belt, now he goes to Jacksonville, and I think he started the game 14 for 14 or something like that. He couldn't have been more impressive, played almost a perfect game that day, and that was the last shot he had. So everything has led to the opportunity, he was available for it when it came, and he took advantage of it... So it's been positive and upbeat and hopeful, and as well as he's a really tough competitive kid, which we love. His mentality, the players love him and he gets along with everybody."
Smith will be a part of a competition for the starting quarterback job that Carroll sees as being similar to the situation in 2012 when the Seahawks returned 2011 starter Tarvaris Jackson, signed free agent Matt Flynn, then drafted Russell Wilson, who ended up winning the job in camp. So far, the Seahawks have Smith, Drew Lock, who was acquired in the trade for Wilson, and Jacob Eason, a former University of Washington standout who Seattle claimed off waivers last season.
While Smith has a real shot at earning the starting job for the first time in his Seahawks career, he hasn't approached this offseason any differently than he has any other in his career.
"I've been working my butt off," Smith said Tuesday. "I've been preparing as if I was a starter for 10 years now, so it doesn't change anything for me; the opponent is just different. So I'm excited to be able to put my work on display, but overall my mentality has been the same.
"Competition brings out the best in all of us, so I'm extremely excited, I look forward to it. I can't wait for the fans and everybody else to see it. It's going to be a lot different than what it's been the last nine or 10 years with Russell in Seattle, but all in all, I still prepare the same."
Carroll also said last month that even if Smith were to re-sign, adding another quarterback, whether in the draft, free agency or via a trade, is likely to happen this offseason.
"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."
Whoever the Seahawks add at that position, Carroll sees Smith as having a leg up on the competition when training camp begins thanks to his experience in Seattle.
"If it all gets set up the way we're seeing it happen, like it should happen, it's going to be a very competitive opportunity," Carroll said. "And I'm going to look at this thing very much like we did years ago (in 2012) and structure it so everybody gets a great shot at it as best we can. That's what competition's all about. I got to give them the opportunity by presenting it, and we'll see if Geno can pull it off. He's kind of the leader because he's been with us for so many years, he knows what's going on."
A look back at some of the best photos of Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith from the 2021 season.