Quarterback hunt: Mayfield is worth a shot, but who else?

“We’ll continue to explore options.  … There’s a number of guys still available, and we’re gonna continue to work through that.” – John Schneider on quarterbacks

When it comes to replacing Russell Wilson, the Seahawks basically have three options: (1) Get an experienced, expensive vet to start now; (2) do a repeat of 2012 with Drew Lock battling a rookie and maybe Geno Smith; (3) play for the 2023 draft, expecting Lock to lose more than he wins.

Plenty of fans (call them the Rebuilders) want the latter, but that is not Pete Carroll’s style, especially at age 70.

And it indeed sounds like Carroll and John Schneider prefer Option 1. They reportedly want to add a veteran starter and have reached out to both the Browns and Falcons, about Baker Mayfield and Matt Ryan – plus others.

The Rebuilders don’t think they should bring in a spendy veteran (Mayfield is about $19 million and Ryan is about $24 million) – instead saving that money for all of the other positions and drafting a QB this year or next. The Rebuilders think the Hawks need to remove big salaries and go young.

But we’re on board with the Always ComPete mantra. Why can’t they give it a shot at winning while also building with the draft capital they have in the next two drafts? Find the best veteran QB they can and draft behind him.

Baker Mayfield

The Browns ended up with Deshaun Watson when they did a very Browns thing and stupidly guaranteed all $230 million of his new contract. That’s a baseball deal for a guy accused by 22 women of sexual misdeeds. Unbelievably crazy.

But that is not the Seahawks’ problem. Instead, the Hawks could benefit from it by making a move for Mayfield.

His preference apparently now is the Colts; but, unlike Wilson and Watson, he does not have trade control. The Seahawks could be a nice landing spot for him – giving him a shot at rebuilding his career with a much more stable franchise that is determined to return to Carroll’s preferred formula of powerful defense and running the ball.

Mayfield, the 2018 No. 1 overall pick, has had a checkered career in Cleveland — thanks largely to four coaches and four OCs, with three different schemes, in his four years. He also is coming off a torn labrum, so his value is pretty diminished – especially at his salary. The general consensus: He is worth a third-rounder.

If they got Mayfield, the Seahawks could then feel comfortable about not forcing a QB pick in 2022 and possibly waiting until 2023. They could see whether Mayfield might be able to live up to his draft status and become their next franchise QB.

The Seahawks reportedly are not in a hurry to try to make a deal for Mayfield, perhaps waiting to see how eager the Colts are. But he has the upside to make it a shot worth taking.

Matt Ryan

Schneider probably was just doing due diligence on Ryan, seeing whether the Falcons would make him available even if they didn’t get Watson. The Falcons pushed Ryan’s $7.5 million roster bonus to Tuesday, so that is the ostensible deadline for them making a move with their longtime franchise QB.

He played behind a bad line and had few weapons last season, and he probably would benefit from not throwing it 600 times a season, as he has in three of the past four years. (Wilson’s most passes in Seattle were 558 in 2020.)

But would the Seahawks really want an expensive 37-year-old QB? Unlike the 26-year-old Mayfield, Ryan would not be a potential long-term QB for Seattle. He would be the so-called bridge guy to a 2022 or 2023 rookie.

He’s probably not worth the move, even if they could get him for a third-round pick and lower his salary.

Other veteran options

If the Colts end up with Mayfield and Ryan stays in Atlanta, the Seahawks’ next option might be 49ers passer Jimmy Garoppolo. The problem: He is rehabbing a shoulder injury and won’t be able to throw until June or July.

The QB would be an obvious health gamble. The 49ers are not likely to get much for him – maybe a third- or fourth-rounder.

Would the 49ers trade him to Seattle? Maybe. They have done business before.

Would Seattle want to wait on him though? If he’s still available in July and all they have been able to assemble is Lock, Smith and a rookie, yeah, he would be an upgrade over that troupe.

Beyond Mayfield, Ryan and Garoppolo, the only QBs who might be upgrades over Lock are Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Grizzled vets such as Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick would not be. Gardner Minshew would be so fun to have, but he probably is not much better than Lock and would be keeping the seat warm for a draft pick.

The draft

The Hawks are thought by some to be very interested in Liberty QB Malik Willis in the draft. He has a lot of raw talent, but it would have to be molded – and there’s no guarantee.

He started just two seasons at a mid-major, which typically is not a good omen for NFL success. He seems a big gamble – too big to take at No. 9.

Scot McCloughan told Rob Staton of Seahawks Draft Blog the top QB prospects this year are all third-round talents, which is quite an indictment and confirms the general consensus on these rookies.  

Schneider seems open to getting a QB outside the first round. Last week, he said, “It’s a good class. … People aren’t highly rating it, but you never know where you’re going to acquire these guys — all the way through, the Russell Wilsons (third round) and the Tom Bradys (sixth round). You have to look at the totality of the class.”

That certainly makes it sound like Schneider may do the smart thing with the ninth pick and select a lineman (O or D), then wait until picks 40 and 41 to possibly take a more experienced college QB – e.g., Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder or Mississippi’s Matt Corral.

Also, expect Schneider to draft a QB in each of the next two years. He seems focused on returning to his Green Bay roots and creating assets at that position — something he reiterated he regrets about his time as Seattle’s GM to this point.

What Carroll wants at QB

“We need a point guard,” Carroll said last week. “Need a guy that plays the game and moves the football around to the guys that are open, does all of the things that manages the game so that we can play great football — because we are going to win with defense, we are going to win with how we play on special teams, we are going to run the football to help the whole thing fit together. That’s never changed, it’s never been the philosophy that we’ve needed to alter other than continue to grow and make it dynamic and present and current. That’s what we are looking for.”

As we have said, this is like 2012 all over again. And Carroll sees it, too.

“Right now, Geno knows our offense the best. If he comes back to us, he has an opportunity to run the whole thing. We saw him do it during the season. We’ve got to bring Drew along to see how far he can take it. The competition is on, and it isn’t different from when Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson went at it. Same kind of deal to me. We’ll set up a schedule and we’ll figure out all of the guys. … It was a three-man competition, if you remember, back then, and we’ll see how it goes. We’ve already been through this before, so it’s exciting to format it and see how it turns out. We’ll see where it takes us.”

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