On the Seahawks and Matt Ryan, Baker Mayfield, Colin Kaepernick
"Are you serious?"
It’s been 10 years since the Seattle Seahawks didn’t have Russell Wilson, so I’m going to make sure to grade every fan on a curve for how they’ve reacted and will react to any rumors or pure speculation (of which the vast majority of these “connections” are based on) of TEAM+QUARTERBACK. You’re sad that Wilson is gone. You’re terrified that the Seahawks don’t have any other quarterbacks besides Drew Lock and Jacob Eason.
You’re in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar surroundings, drowning in a sea of possibilities that seem like a lifeline away from the uncertainty of choppy waters. Then all of a sudden here comes Baker Mayfield in a life raft that’s 50 meters away and he’s screaming to you “Swim!” And Matt Ryan floats by 100 meters away in a tanker and blasts on the P.A.: “Stay where you are! We’re coming to you!” And then out of nowhere, a rescue helicopter is hovering above you, and who’s that wearing one of those massive helmets? The Rock? Nope, Colin Kaepernick.
Now listen to me instead, the voice inside your head: Put. Your. Feet. Down.
You’re only in three feet of water, stop panicking.
Some people, not everybody, but some people are the same ones who shout that Seattle shouldn’t pay a quarterback $50 million per year, while also turning around after Wilson is traded and getting upset that the Seahawks haven’t traded for Deshaun Watson or Matt Ryan or Kirk Cousins yet.
Or Baker Mayfield, whose rookie contract is set to expire in 2023, creating a need for a franchise to both a) give up valuable assets to the Browns to acquire Mayfield and b) to pay Mayfield up to $50 million per year.
Others may look at quarterback superstars with recent Super Bowls wins like Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Peyton Manning, and Russell Wilson and believe that clearly: “You can’t win in this league without a superstar quarterback.”
Maybe. I mean, you obviously can and many teams have, but those five quarterbacks have won eight of the last nine Super Bowls.
2013 - Wilson (rookie contract)
2014 - Brady (12th in salary)
2015 - Manning (6th in salary)
2016 - Brady (18th in salary)
2017 - Foles/Wentz ($1.6m salary/rookie contract)
2018 - Brady (11th in salary)
2019 - Mahomes (rookie contract)
2020 - Brady (5th in salary)
2021 - Stafford (9th in salary)
If the Broncos win the Super Bowl next season, it will be in part thanks to the fact that Russell Wilson is only ninth in salary for Denver; he would have been first or second in 2022 salary to the Seahawks.
Other rookie contracts to reach the Super Bowl in the last 10 years include Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick (2012), Wilson (2014), Cam Newton (2015), Jared Goff (2018), Mahomes (2020), and Joe Burrow (2021).
That’s 10 rookie contract appearances in the last 10 Super Bowls: HALF of the NFL’s Super Bowl quarterbacks (Carson Wentz included) in the last decade were on their rookie contracts.
So shall I start to address the NFL’s out of control, unsubstantiated, completely antithetical to what we preach at Seaside Joe, “quarterback rumor mill”?
Sure. But first a P.S.A.
I almost feel like I have to start categorizing “NFL rumors” the same as I would categories “comic books” and “comic book movies”: Adults can read them. Adults can watch them. Adults can talk about them. But adults should also know that they’ve only ever existed to keep children busy.
I do not mean to come down hard on any of you for believing, for reading, or even for spreading these rumors. It’s natural to imagine possibilities and this is the first time you’ve felt “single” in 10 years, so you’re understandably exploding with excitement over the idea of dating again. Except that if you don’t learn to control that excitement, you’ll wind up: broke, lonely, and looking over at your “new partner” on the other end of the couch and thinking to yourself, “Dear God, what have I done?”
That’s what Seaside Joe is here to do. To bring you back to earth, from the highs and lows of Twitter, which we can start referring to as the “call-in radio thoughts” of millions of football fans, except they don’t even have to dial a number. They just hit: “Send Tweet.”
Listen to me instead.
PUT. YOUR. FEET. DOWN.
All of those quarterbacks I mentioned before: the one in the raft, the one on the oil tanker, the one in the chopper, as well as the ones I didn’t mention (picture Derek Carr as a mermaid or something), they only serve to exist as distractions because you’re more valuable to them if you’re panicking than if you realize that you don’t need any help. It is FEAR that is driving you to these rumors. FEAR that is causing you to irrationally (yes, irrationally) wonder if the Seahawks could just give you five minutes of dopamine (major breaking news headlines involving the team and a quarterback you’ve heard of before) in exchange for two seasons of inadequate feelings about whoever that is after he becomes Seattle’s quarterback.
I will not give you content here at Seaside Joe that feeds off of that fear. Even if it won’t make my newsletter as popular as the ones that intend to give you sensationalized headlines, wild theories that will never happen, and rumor-based speculation, I can at least sleep at night knowing that I base all of my reports on reality instead of “REALLY CRAZY!”
Keep in mind that even though Russell Wilson was traded, not a single rumor that you heard about a potential Wilson trade over the last two years was accurate. Not a single one of those rumors would have led you to believe that Wilson was going to the Broncos, or when that would happen, or for how much; everyone was caught by surprise last Tuesday, and even if you could find a Broncos rumor prior to then, Denver was just one of at least a dozen teams connected to Wilson and only for the very basic reason that any of you could have speculated: they needed a quarterback upgrade.
Now the Seahawks are one of those teams. There will never be fewer than a dozen teams looking for a new quarterback. Never. Oftentimes, those teams are in that position because of one reason above all else: They panicked and acted out of fear.
Put your feet down, Seattle. I promise you that you won’t drown in three feet of water, so long as you don’t panic.
That’s out of the way, so let me briefly address several quarterbacks who have been connected to the Seahawks this week, though I’ve also laid out my thoughts on these and other names a few times before now: My top-3 Seahawks QB targets ; the top free agent QBs ; the top trade option QBs.
And I am not going to tell you that you have to agree with me on my assessment of ANY quarterback. I encourage you to think independently on it and I know that I’ll be wrong… eventually. I’m sure it will happen one day! But I know that my track record with quarterbacks has been good enough for me to have confidence that I’m not completely out of line in saying that Seattle’s best option is to simply “stay out of it” this year. There won’t be any great quarterbacks to move teams from here on out other than Deshaun Watson… so I’ll start there.
Deshaun Watson (Are 49ers in or out?)
The Seahawks are out on Deshaun Watson, but there are a flurry of reports this week that many other teams are not. Watson has met with the Saints, Panthers, according to those reports, with the Browns and Falcons on deck—which sets me up to have to respond to rumors about the potential outgoing quarterbacks in those situations.
(I’ve spent many “Russell Wilson rumors” moments trying to warn people against following Jordan Schultz, son of former Sonics owner Howard Schultz, to no avail because people just crave the hell out of all rumors; but Jordan Schultz added the 49ers to the list on Tuesday, only to have multiple NFL reporters immediately refute that San Francisco plans to meet with Watson. Are you all done with Schultz yet?)
I extensively covered why Watson would be a terrible acquisition for the Seahawks. A lot of what is applied to Watson, including unnecessarily sacrificing draft capital on a quarterback while the roster is in shambles at so many key positions, will also apply to the other rumored options.
What would be interesting about the 49ers rumors would be what it says about Trey Lance. Jim Trotter echoed the sentiment on Wednesday that San Francisco has “no plans” to meet with Watson, although some of the tweets by media members that I’ve read so far in wake of the 49ers rumors seem to read like John Lynch trying to keep the franchise’s name out of it—while privately sticking their noses in it.
If the 49ers did give up on Trey Lance, it wouldn’t impact Seattle’s roster in any way: San Francisco isn’t trading a quarterback to the Seahawks. Not a good one, anyway.
Baker Mayfield (The beauty of being a bust but not losing your fanbase)
Speaking of rumors, I want you to read the first two words of this tweet. Please: READ THE FIRST TWO WORDS ONLY.
Now, you can read the rest of the tweet. But did you catch the first two words???
This is my living nightmare of NFL rumors. THEY WANT YOU TO PANIC SO YOU HIT RETWEET.
Baker Mayfield is not a surprising addition to the list of tradeable quarterbacks. In my write-up of trade options, I gave acquiring Mayfield a 1/5 score because I think fans are overlooking the fact that the Browns would be giving up on him. The Browns. THE BROWNS.
The Cleveland Browns.
Yes, this is the same organization that gave up on Bill Belichick, but I really don’t know how better to emphasize that “QB who the Browns didn’t want” as a red flag. The same Cleveland team that was the media’s darling going into 2019 with Freddie Kitchens; the media’s darling after going 11-5 under Kevin Stefanski in 2020; the media’s darling headed into the 2021 season because the “high-powered offense” would finally get plugged in.
We’re still waiting. Darling.
For anyone who doesn’t know much about Baker Mayfield except that he was the number one pick and that he had a decent fantasy campaign in 2020 and he’s got the keys to Cleveland’s stadium (guessing he gave those back?), here’s a very brief rundown:
An unranked, 3-star recruit in 2018 (with Washington State as one of the few teams that showed interest), Mayfield walked on for Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech and shockingly won the job as a true freshman.
Didn’t play well enough to keep the job, transferred to Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, sat out 2014.
In another air raid offense with the Sooners, playing in the Big 12 (historically the least amount of defense is played here), Mayfield proved to be an upper echelon college spread offense quarterback.
Playing with future NFLers like Joe Mixon, Sterling Shepard, Mark Andrews, Dede Westbrook, Samaje Perine, Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb, Orlando Brown, Bobby Evans, and Cody Ford, Baker Mayfield throws 119 touchdowns and only 21 interceptions over three seasons. He finished fourth, third, and first in Heisman voting (winning it with Lincoln Riley as the head coach) over those campaigns, respectively.
Many still doubt if Mayfield is worth a first round pick, citing concerns about size, playing in a spread offense, playing in the Big 12, and others questioning if he has a bad attitude.
But skepticism around air raid and spread offense quarterbacks had slowly started to dissipate over the years, as more NFL teams began to embrace similar offensive schemes, as well as a hint out of Kansas City that this Patrick Mahomes guy (who replaced Mayfield at Texas Tech) was going to be really good.
Then the Browns held picks 1 and 4 in the 2018 NFL Draft, with an unusual number of quarterbacks to choose from: Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson. Some suggested that Cleveland should have used both picks on a quarterback. With some hindsight, that probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea, but we can also assume that the Browns would have chosen Darnold or Rosen instead of Allen.
We all know what happened next. The Browns chose Mayfield and for some reason, we’re letting THE CLEVELAND BROWNS tell us who the best player in the draft is, despite that franchise being the second-worst at drafting in the entire league behind the Jacksonville Jaguars.
When are we going to come together as a people and agree that just because one team makes a poor draft choice on a prospect, it is not then the responsibility of the rest of the league to agree that “That guy has the same value at what that one franchise decided he did on draft day”?
If you COMPLETELY REMOVE THE FACT that Baker Mayfield was the number one overall pick in 2018—again, a POOR DECISION—and instead pretend that he was an undrafted free agent, then:
How badly would you want Mayfield to be the Seahawks quarterback?
What would he be worth to acquire?
Every single criticism and concern about Baker Mayfield coming out of college in 2018 remains relevant in 2022.
Better yet, if “Baker Mayfield” was a draft prospect in 2022, knowing that we now have a track record of similar quarterbacks like him, he might not even be a first round pick in this upcoming draft class; and it’s a terrible draft class for quarterbacks.
Setting aside his rookie season—even though it might actually have been his best season—here’s a bit more on Mayfield’s last three years:
2019: Below average in literally every passing statistic. Supporting cast: Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, and Odell Beckham played in ALL 16 GAMES, in addition to Kareem Hunt being signed, and an offensive line with Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller, and J.C. Tretter. At FootballOutsiders, Mayfield ranks 25th in DYAR, 28th in VOA. Here is a look at his career Adjusted Passing stats (100 is the average, so >100 is good and <100 is bad:
2020: Browns get “huge offensive upgrade” with Stefanski hired away from the Vikings to be the next head coach. Cleveland goes 11-5, makes playoffs, Mayfield has best statistical season with 63% completions, 26 TD, 8 INT, 95.9 passer rating, 65.5 QBR. At his peak, Mayfield tied with Gardner Minshew for the 15th-best passer rating that year, and also tied for 16th in yards per attempt; Mayfield was 31st in the NFL in “on-target%” meaning that he was inaccurate. At FO: 16th in DYAR, 14th in VOA.
2021: Mayfield’s stats regress back to pre-2020 levels, posting an even lower Net Y/A than he did during the 2019 disaster of a season. He ranks 23rd in DYAR, below Carson Wentz, Jalen Hurts, Tua, Jared Goff, and Taylor Heinicke. He was 27th in on-target%; he had the third-highest “bad throw%” below only Zach Wilson and Justin Fields.
So for some reason when I say, “The Seahawks should trade for Jared Goff” I get:
And yet, beyond comprehension based on everything we should all know by now based on how Baker Mayfield has played in the NFL, simply because he was a “more recent first overall pick,” this is meant to be a more conscionable acquisition for Seattle’s hopes to replace Russell Wilson.
You all KNOW by now that it is illogical to expect greatness from either Goff or Mayfield. The only possible difference is the narratives that been constructed around their NAMES and not the quality of their PLAY.
Do not believe the hype that Mayfield has the virtues of a number one overall pick.
Do accept that without the honor of being the first overall pick—from being the objectively wrong decision for the Cleveland Browns to make that day—Baker Mayfield is as good of an acquisition as Taylor Heinicke or Jameis Winston would be. The only question you have to ask yourself is, “What do all of these quarterback options cost to the Seahawks?” and once you realize that some guys are getting paid off of NAME instead of PLAY, you’ll know why Seattle needs to shoot low.
Which is exactly what Pete Carroll did in 2010, 2011, and 2012’s search for a quarterback.
History will repeat itself.
And Baker Mayfield is bottom-10 starting quarterback.
If you want to make this case to your friends who are arguing for Baker Mayfield or Deshaun Watson, please share this article and Seaside Joe with them! Let’s get this tiny Seahawks newsletter to the top of Substack’s rankings:
Matt Ryan (Why should Matt Ryan have to suffer?)
The Seattle Seahawks trading for a 37-year-old quarterback to put him behind Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan at tackle?
I suggested that the Falcons should have traded Matt Ryan at least one or two years ago, but instead Atlanta has trudged along with an overpaid, one-time MVP, and while that is in no way disparaging Ryan’s career as a whole… I’m flabbergasted that anyone in Seattle could have been paying attention Dan Quinn’s Falcons from 2016-2020 or Arthur Smith (who was supposed to be “upgrading the offense”) in 2021 and came away with the take…
“WANT ME SOME OF THAT.”
The Seahawks are probably a worse overall team in 2022 than the Falcons were in 2021. The Falcons went 7-10 in 2021. The Seahawks went 7-10 in 2021. What exactly is the point here of Seattle taking Ryan out of Atlanta, rather than at least letting the quarterback go to a team that might help him more than the dying supporting casts of the Falcons and Seahawks?
Ian Rapoport @RapSheetWhat’s next in the pass-rush world? The #Rams are working to bring pass-rusher Von Miller back, sources say. Nothing done. Other teams are still pushing. But they are convinced he’s headed back to the champs.
Even if you compared Ryan to my previous suggestions of Goff and Nick Foles (take on one year of a bad contract in exchange for upgrading Seattle’s draft capital and opening the door for a quarterback acquisition in 2023, which is the earliest time that the Seahawks should be looking for a quarterback), why do that with the 37-year-old who might require that a team sacrifice an early draft pick to get him?
I have come to accept that with many fans, the reality of how bad the Seahawks are right now won’t set in until Week 1 is over. For others, it might not even set in until Week 10 or even the end of the season. This isn’t a sky-falling situation—Seattle can get right as early as 2023—and remember: You’re not drowning.
But you’re also not drinking Coronas on the beach, either.
You’re in three feet of water. It’s fine. But it’s not great either. The Seahawks have almost no paths towards acquiring 2022-ready starting upgrades for left tackle, center, right tackle, tight end, wide receiver depth, edge rusher, cornerback one, inside linebacker, defensive tackle, other edge rusher… Do you see what I mean?
Field Yates @FieldYatesWe talk about the left tackle as a fundamentally more important position than right tackle in most cases, but in the AFC West if you don’t have a good player at both spots it’s going to be a nightmare.
Meanwhile, the Rams just won the Super Bowl. The 49ers almost nearly beat the Rams to get to the Super Bowl. The Cardinals…even though they eventually turned into the Cardinals… went 11-6.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. And put your feet down.
The 49ers didn’t have a good starting quarterback last season, and they reached the NFC Championship. The Patriots didn’t have a starting QB at this time a year ago, they made the playoffs. The Steelers had arguably the worst QB in the NFL, and they made the playoffs. The Eagles made the playoffs with Jalen Hurts. The Titans earned the number one seed with Ryan Tannehill.
I’m not even trying to convince you that Seattle can make the playoffs with a mediocre QB next season, because they can’t. But if that’s what you need to hear: Seattle can get by at the position without making headlines this week.
I could write 100 articles about how the quarterback position’s value has been overstated and overrated in our lifetimes, but I’m not sure I could even keep up anymore because this issue has only been exacerbated in the last decade of intense media coverage and scrutiny on these players who take up 1/53rd of a roster.
Matt Ryan ranked 28th in intended air yards per attempt last season, meaning he doesn’t throw outside of a small comfort zone; only Goff, Ben Roethlisberger, and Tua had shorter iAY/A rates in 2021, and Ryan was below Daniel Jones, Davis Mills, and Sam Darnold. He was also the most-sacked QB of 2019 and has averaged 43 sacks per season since 2018. He’s been good for 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions per year over the last three seasons. He ranks 22nd in passer rating among all QBs since 2019.
Here’s a comparison for you: Joe Montana.
On the Kansas City Chiefs.
If an NFL team and Colin Kaepernick ever have a real tryout, sure, I’ll write about it. Until then, keep your feet on the ground. I’ll lead you back to shore, please just keep the faith until we get there.
Now, I know some of you will vehemently disagree with me on at least one of these quarterbacks, so tell me where I went wrong:
If you like the effort put forth in this article and want more like it, please consider sharing it and definitely smack this like it makes you angry:
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