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Can Seattle Weather the Storm?

With the recent trade of QB Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers from Cleveland, it’s clear for now that the Seattle Seahawks will do nothing to improve their QB situation.

Carolina parted ways with a fifth-round pick in 2024 that could go to a fourth-round pick, depending on Mayfield’s playing time in 2022. The Browns agreed to pay $10.5 million of Mayfield’s salary and Mayfield took a $3.5M haircut that can be re-earned in incentives. That leaves less than $4 million-ish for the Panthers to pay in salary for Mayfield on a one-year deal this season. In my opinion, It’s a ho-hum result that could have larger repercussions for not only the two teams involved in the trade but also for the Seahawks as well.

There is still one domino that COULD fall, but only if their rivals from the south, the San Francisco 49ers, actually are forced to release former starter Jimmy Garoppolo, who has supposedly been surpassed by Trey Lance, last year’s third pick in the draft.

If put out in the open market, Garoppolo could sign somewhere as a free agent. Those holding out hope that a trade could bring Jimmy G to the great northwest are living in fantasy land unless the QB is flat out released by the 49ers. Only then could the Seahawks jump into the fray if they are willing.

For the here and now, we should just accept the decision made by both GM John Schneider and Head Coach Pete Carroll who have been trying to sell everyone that they are happy with the team’s current QB room. Some, including yours truly, still shake their heads in disbelief this is their chosen route. However, we all have to swallow what the Seahawks are pouring for now.

Schneider’s and Carroll’s self-professed belief in the reclamation project of one Drew Lock and/or playing perennial league backup Geno Smith seem to truly be what they want to do. Can this decision survive a five or six-win season with confidence from ownership they can get it right in 2023?

Even if found to not be the answer long term, I think Mayfield was a much better option and would have upgraded their QB room. I also think that having Mayfield would raise expectations outside of the internal optimism that we have known to come from Coach Carroll’s style of coaching. After all, the internal spin, which included a highlight tape of Lock made by the Seahawks coaching staff, and shared on social media, for the purpose of selling the newly acquired QB, was unprecedented.

It has been rumored and speculated by media outlets that GM Schneider “loved Drew Lock” coming out of Missouri. I have had that feeling before when acquiring a player, but now there are three years of tape available on him since college. That prior evaluation (right or wrong) definitely warrants throwing Lock in the mix. There’s nothing wrong with some conviction and confidence as an evaluator, but as an “all or nothing” option, can be problematic. Schneider needs to hope that the positive things he saw on Lock that didn’t show up in Denver are finally uncovered in Seattle.

I think Mayfield, on a one-year contract with incentives to prove himself and with his career as a starter at stake, would have made a lot of sense for the Seahawks. With him now traded to Carolina and competing with incumbent Sam Darnold, the Panthers clearly have chosen to upgrade their QB situation now.

They have swung and missed at QB multiple times over the last few years, but their ownership in Charlotte seems much less patient than the one in Seattle. The Panthers drafted one QB and traded for another QB over the last three months, clearly a sign that this year is extremely important.

The Seahawks have taken a different tact. It’s almost like they are willing to write this season off, and that’s my point. They have now taken a gamble few would be comfortable taking in NFL circles. The Seahawks decision makers have built up a fair amount of chips in having an unprecedented run of success over the last decade. They used up some of those chips with last year’s struggles, but clearly feel that time is still on their side to solve the QB void created by the trade of Russell Wilson.

It’s diametrically different decision making by two teams and their leaders in the front office. They meet in Seattle December 11 during Week 14 of the regular season. That seems like a great time to measure how the journey is going for both organizations.

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