The Seattle Seahawks shocked fans and pundits around the NFL when they traded star quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos in one of the biggest trades in league history.
Even his backup quarterback, former WVU star Geno Smith, admitted he was caught off guard.
“At first, I can’t lie, I was [surprised],” Smith said Wednesday at the Seahawks’ minicamp. “You know, in this business, in this league, you can never be too sure about anything.”
Smith was on the tail of a one-year deal with the Seahawks when Seattle made the blockbuster trade and was pondering his home for the 2022-23 season. He said he mulled offers from “a few teams that were interested” after his most productive NFL season since 2014.
Despite earning three starts while Wilson was injured in 2021, the quarterback depth chart in the Emerald City is currently blank. In return for their nine-time Pro Bowler Wilson, the Seahawks brought in Drew Lock, who made 21 starts in three seasons as a Bronco.
For the next three months, Smith and Lock will compete for the week one starting nod. That conjures up memories — albeit old ones — of Smith’s rookie season with the Jets when he took the starting job from veteran Mark Sanchez.
“Man, that’s like light years ago, but it’s literally a huge difference,” Smith said. “Coming into this competition, I’m a lot stronger, I’m a lot more comfortable with my surroundings. I’m not going from a college kid to a professional and having to learn all those things….I’m older, I’m the vet in the room versus being the rookie.”
Lock is fresh off his own quarterback competition, ultimately becoming Teddy Bridgewater’s backup in Denver in 2021. He hopes that this year will be different, so he is taking a different mental approach to the battle.
“That was really my first time ever having that happen last year. I tried to compare the whole time, you know, ‘Did Teddy beat me that day, or did I win that day?'” Lock said. “Overall, if you start thinking like that, it’s just not good for your mental, it’s not good for your process of becoming a better quarterback….Comparison is the thief of joy is what Barry Odom told me one day when I was in college.”
Both quarterbacks recognize the necessity of bettering each other. Instead of turning it into a cutthroat fight for the starting job, Lock says both quarterbacks are simply trying to take advantage of their reps, and he appreciates the way Smith has handled the competition.
At the same time, it’s clear that Smith enjoys having Lock as his partner in the quarterback room.
“Drew’s cool as heck, man. Just getting a chance to meet him and getting a chance to know him, he’s got a lot of swag,” Smith said. “He’s a young guy that can throw it, he’s got all the ability in the world. He’s very smart and he’s just one of the guys.”
The mandatory minicamp concludes Thursday, and is the last part of Seattle’s mandatory offseason schedule until training camp begins in July.