The heavy lifting of free agency is well in the rearview mirror and so is the draft, but while it’s assumed the Seahawks have made their stance on the quarterback position clear, the possibility of adding another signal-caller continues to be a major topic of discussion.
Following the release of undrafted rookie free agent Levi Lewis on Friday, Seattle’s quarterback room is now down to the trio of Geno Smith, Drew Lock and Jacob Eason. Smith is reportedly the leader in that group right now, thanks in large part to his familiarity with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron’s system. However, given the previous track records for each of the aforementioned passers, the team’s ceiling appears strikingly low no matter which one goes under center this fall.
Hence the undying discourse revolving around the trade market, which was recently reinforced by the report that Seattle remains involved in discussions with Cleveland for former No. 1 draft choice Baker Mayfield. But Mayfield isn’t the only quarterback who could still be moved before the regular season officially kicks off on September 8.
Let’s revisit the Mayfield situation and look at two other quarterbacks that could be of interest to general manager John Schneider and company.
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Baker Mayfield, Browns
There are quite a few moving pieces here, but the relationship between the Browns and Mayfield is so fractured at this point that it’s virtually impossible to envision it lingering into the season. Judging by his public comments in the aftermath of the trade that brought Deshaun Watson to Cleveland, Mayfield appears neither interested in taking on a backup role with the organization nor spot-starting in the event Watson is suspended by the league—and all interested parties are fully aware of that.
The Browns, quite frankly, have put themselves in a highly disadvantageous spot with this situation. Mayfield’s $18.8 million in guaranteed salary has been the biggest hangup in negotiations, and inquiring teams hold all the cards because Cleveland is bound to that number if it fails to trade him. The team will still have to eat some money even if a deal is agreed upon, but how much is the biggest question here and, if it’s reluctant to fork over a significant amount of cash, it may have to sweeten the pot with a draft pick.
According to the OverTheCap.com, the Seahawks have just $6.3 million in effective salary cap space right now. That number, however, will grow to $11.4 million when the release of defensive end Carlos Dunlap goes into effect on June 1. Releasing running back Chris Carson, who may be unable to play again after suffering a serious neck injury last year, would add another $4.6 million to the tally. But even then, that still wouldn’t be enough to cover Mayfield’s salary, so the financial aspect is especially crucial for Seattle in these negotiations.
Ryan Tannehill, Titans
Tannehill’s situation in Tennessee is fascinating. He looks primed to be the Titans’ starting quarterback for a fourth consecutive season this fall, but they haven’t necessarily given him a vote of confidence either. They traded away his top receiver, A.J. Brown, to the Eagles on day one of the draft then selected quarterback Malik Willis the following night. That all came after they released Tannehill’s other primary receiving threat, Julio Jones, and reportedly explored trades for Watson and Aaron Rodgers.
Needless to say, if Tannehill takes issue with the organization he helped lead to the AFC’s No. 1 seed just a handful of months ago, he certainly has a good argument to make. For now, at least, that doesn’t appear to be where this is headed. But it’s something for the Seahawks to potentially monitor, although a deal may be too financially complicated to execute; a cool $29 million of his 2022 salary would change hands to the acquiring team.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
Arguably one of the more surprising developments of this offseason is the fact Garoppolo has yet to be traded after helping lead the 49ers to the NFC championship game this past season. In the end, San Francisco may have to postpone its transition to the Trey Lance era or simply let Garoppolo serve as one of the most expensive backup quarterbacks in the NFL this fall. Either option doesn’t feel all too ideal for general manager John Lynch and friends.
But is the situation dire enough to consider trading Garoppolo—a well-respected leader in San Francisco’s locker room—within the NFC West? If so, the Seahawks could kick the tires, but the cost of acquisition—both from a financial and draft capital standpoint—presents similar challenges to that of Mayfield and Tannehill. Garoppolo will carry a $25.5 million cap hit to whichever team hypothetically lands him, which is roughly over $10 million off from what Seattle can feasibly swing.