PFF News Mailbag: Geno Smith or rookie QB for Seahawks in 2023, Patriots tipping plays, more

Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) passes for a touchdown against the New York Giants during the second quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

The NFL saw a record 10 trade deadline deals transpire this season, and now we could see even more movement before the end of the season.

That can’t happen via trade, but on Tuesday alone, the Las Vegas Raiders waived safety Johnathan Abram, and the Los Angeles Rams waived safety Terrell Burgess. The Packers did the Raiders a favor by claiming Abram and taking on his salary. Burgess passed through waivers and signed with the New York Giants’ practice squad.

With veteran players now being subject to waivers, expect more players to be cut in recent weeks. There could be movement on free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. soon, as well.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag.

@popout_tempted: What’s your dream future for the Seahawks?

The Seahawks have a fascinating offseason upcoming because they essentially have three main options at their most important position:

  1. Sign quarterback Geno Smith to a long-term extension or use the franchise/transition tag on him and use the Denver Broncos’ and their own 2023 first-round picks to address other needs.
  2. Use the 2023 draft capital on their quarterback of the future by selecting Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis or another signal-caller in an effort let Smith walk in free agency.
  3. Retain Smith and use the 2023 draft capital on their quarterback of the future.

Each option includes other sub-options. 

For option A, should the Seahawks sign Smith to a contract extension or franchise him? 

For option B, should Seattle take the best available quarterback with their higher pick or package picks to move up in the draft? 

And for option C, should Seattle sign Smith to a long-term extension or transition tag him, and should the Seahawks use their highest pick, package picks to move up or wait for a quarterback like Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker near the bottom of the first round?

Based on some of the public communication out of Seattle, it wouldn’t shock me if the Seahawks didn’t mind using one of the first-round picks they received from the Broncos by trading QB Russell Wilson to draft their quarterback of the future. That pick is currently No. 10 overall.

It also much be considered that if the Seahawks are able to maintain their success that they could lose offensive coordinator Shane Waldron to a head-coaching opportunity. At that point, Seattle’s best option would likely be to promote QBs coach Dave Canales to offensive coordinator to continue the system that’s currently working under Waldron.

So, what’s Seattle’s dream future? Probably for Waldron to stay, Smith to continue excelling, the Seahawks to use their two first-round picks to address other needs and to continue winning in the future.

Nonetheless, it’s not simple. If Seattle absolutely loves one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft and believes he will be better than 32-year-old Smith, then it should draft a QB. And even though Smith has been excellent this season, I’m not sure what his market will look like this offseason. I think it’s possible that Seattle could still use him as a bridge starter in 2023 before a rookie takes over in 2024 and beyond.

The Seahawks already netted left tackle Charles Cross, edge defenders Boye Mafe and Tyreke Smith, wide receiver Dareke Young, QB Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive lineman Shelby Harris in the Wilson trade. And now they have first- and second-round picks in the 2023 draft to make that haul look even better.

@kase_cm: Are the Patriots galaxy braining themselves?

I think, all things considered, if you told yourself after the Patriots would be 5-4 after looking disorganized on offense this summer while Mac Jones misses three games and rates as PFF’s second-lowest-graded QB in addition to Bailey Zappe starting two games, you probably would have been fine with that.

One thing I did look into was if New England was tipping off run or pass based on their offensive formation because it’s something head coach Bill Belichick talked about this week. He said Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaq Leonard and New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley did a good job of predicting plays in consecutive weeks.

It’s not uncommon for teams to develop a run/pass tell, and the Patriots now have a bye week to clean up the problem.

When the Patriots are in a 2×2 formation with multiple inline tight ends, they’re running the ball at an 87/13 split while the rest of the NFL is running the ball at a 57/43 split in that formation.

When the Patriots have two inline tight ends playing on opposite sides, they’re running at a 75/25 split, whereas the NFL is running at a 53/47 split. When the Patriots have two inline tight ends on the same side of the formation, they’re running at a 91/9 split, whereas the rest of the NFL is running at a 54/46 split.

The Patriots’ tells aren’t nearly as drastic in other formations.

Overall, when the Patriots have two tight ends on the field, they’re running the ball 65.4 percent of the time. That figure is at 56.2 percent for the rest of the NFL.

@fred_barnett: How much is Odell Beckham Jr. looking to get with a new contract?

Beckham said in a recent interview with Complex that he wants his next destination to be long-term. I thought PFF’s Brad Spielberger came up with an interesting comparison on a recent episode of the PFF Wire podcast, saying perhaps Beckham could sign a deal comparable to the five-year, $57.5 million contract Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup signed this offseason.

If Beckham winds up only signing a one-year deal, I could see it being incentive-laded based on postseason wins and metrics.

@drainideology: Sauce Gardner or Tariq Woolen?

I love Seahawks cornerback Tariq Woolen. As a 2022 fifth-round pick, he was perhaps the steal of the draft; however, I’m going to have to go with New York Jets rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner here.

He’s already PFF’s third-highest-graded cornerback this season. He’s not quite as fast or long as Woolen, but it’s relatively close, and he’s a much more seasoned cornerback than Woolen.

@ZGrover333: Is the Rams offense fixable?

Honestly, probably not unless it can pull off a miracle on its offensive line.

Rams offensive linemen have received a 57.4 PFF grade this season. For comparison’s sake, the Cleveland Browns offensive line is first with an 85.2 while the Cowboys are 16th at 64.0.

It will help to have Brian Allen back at center, Coleman Shelton — who was designated to return off of injured reserve this week — back on interior offensive line and David Edwards could still return off of injured reserve after suffering two concussions this season. It will be nice to have experienced players back on the line, but what the Rams really need is to convince Andrew Whitworth to come out of retirement to play left tackle. And at 3-5, the Rams’ season might not be worth saving at a certain point.

Nonetheless, among the eight offensive linemen currently on the Rams’ roster, four didn’t start the season with Los Angeles.

@NicBodifordNFL: Why the significant usage drop for Wan'Dale Robinson in Week 8?

New York Giants rookie wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson actually played the same percentage of New York's offensive snaps in Weeks 7 and 8. The Giants just threw the ball less and didn’t have as much success. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

@WentzHOF: Thoughts on Carson Wentz?

My main thought on Carson Wentz is that as long as Taylor Heinicke is playing OK at quarterback, it doesn’t make much sense for the Washington Commanders to rush Wentz back from his broken finger. If Wentz plays 70 percent of the team's offensive snaps, Washington has to send a second-round pick to the Indianapolis Colts. If he plays less than that, the second turns into a third-round pick.

I know no one wants to talk about tanking in the NFL, but Wentz’s injury actually could encourage the Colts to lose over the course of the rest of the reason. The dropoff from a second-round pick to a third-round pick is pretty massive. They could make up for it by improving their own first-round pick.


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