After the 2021 NFL season, Geno Smith likely thought he'd be a backup quarterback — or maybe even a third-string option with the Seattle Seahawks. After all, he had spent most of his 10-year career as a backup, so it was par for the course. But then the Seahawks traded their star quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, and suddenly Smith was competing for a starting job. He beat out Drew Lock and was named the team's starter, then turned in one of the best seasons in franchise history.
Smith started every game for the Seahawks and led the league in completion percentage (69.8%) while finishing fourth in touchdown passes (30), sixth in Total QBR (60.8), and breaking several franchise records along the way. The Seahawks overachieved and reached the playoffs in the NFC. Meanwhile, over in Denver, Wilson had his worst season as a professional quarterback, and the Broncos stumbled to a 5-12 finish. Even sweeter, Smith and the Seahawks defeated Wilson and the Broncos during Week 1 of the 2022 season.
Smith's strong play earned him the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award and a trip to the Pro Bowl. Of course, it also scored him a HUGE increase in salary.
Coming into the 2022 season, Smith had a one-year, $3.5 million contract. Thanks to reaching certain milestones, he made another $3.5 million in incentives. That's a grand total of $7 million last season and about $17.5 million over his 10-year NFL career.
The 32-year-old Smith just signed an extension with the Seahawks that will pay him $105 million over the next three seasons. The deal includes $52 million in the first season. That means next year alone, he'll make three times what he's earned the previous ten years. And his new contract will pay him a whopping 30 times more than his old one.
It's an impressive redemption story. The New York Jets drafted Smith in the second round of the 2013 draft, but he struggled with inconsistency his first two seasons. In 2015, one of his teammates punched him during a locker room altercation, breaking his jaw. He then bounced around to the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers before joining Seattle in 2019.
Now that he's scored his first big contract, Smith is setting sights on something else he's never done before: reaching the Super Bowl.