Analysis: Who Holds Early Edge in Seahawks Backup Quarterback Battle?
When considering the least desirable positions on any roster in the entire NFL, the Seahawks backup quarterback position may rank near the top.
With the exception of Trevone Boykin throwing a touchdown against the 49ers in 2016, Russell Wilson rarely misses a snap. He's been the NFL's iron man in his first eight seasons, starting all 128 regular season and 15 playoff games during that span. He hasn't been subbed out for a single snap in either of the past two years.
But in the grueling sport of football, injury luck can change in an instant. For that reason, finding a quality backup for Wilson remains imperative in case he goes down. As camp approaches, Seattle has an intriguing battle looming for clipboard duty between veteran Geno Smith and undrafted rookie Anthony Gordon.
Who holds the edge? Let's look at the arguments for Smith and Gordon winning the backup quarterback gig in 2020.
The Case for Geno Smith
Seattle hasn't had the same backup behind Wilson in back-to-back years since the late Tarvaris Jackson left after the 2015 season. That could change with the decision to re-sign Smith, who beat out Paxton Lynch for the reserve role last August. Familiarity matters and after learning Seattle's scheme as backup last year, Smith holds a major advantage over Gordon, who won't benefit from on-field work in OTAs and minicamps. Experience matters as well and Smith has started 31 games in the NFL previously for the Jets and Giants. Schematically, he may be a better fit due to his scrambling ability and the Seahawks wouldn't have to alter the offense much if he checked into the game.
The Case for Anthony Gordon
At this point of his career, Smith has likely reached his ceiling, which is a capable backup who never fulfilled his potential as a former second-round pick. Though he didn't hear his name called on draft week and played in just 15 total college games, Gordon was one of the nation's most productive passers last year at Washington State and presents several quality traits under center that should translate well to the next level. Displaying a quick release, he consistently made NFL-caliber throws for the Cougars, has enough arm strength to thread the needle when he needs to, and completed north of 71 percent of his passes in his lone season as a starter. As a pure passer, he may give Smith a run for his money on day one.
General manager John Schneider and the Seahawks were fired up to sign Gordon coming out of the draft and he may be the team's backup of the future. More and more quarterbacks from Air Raid offenses are finding NFL success, including Gordon's former teammate Gardner Minshew with the Jaguars last year. For that reason alone, he shouldn't be counted out in this battle against Smith.
But without a conventional offseason program and on-field work, it will be hard for an undrafted free agent to make a splash, let alone a quarterback like Gordon trying to digest an NFL offense. Smith's experience as a starter and understanding of Seattle's scheme will be too much for him to overcome - at least this year - and under ideal circumstances, the team will be able to sneak the rookie onto the practice squad to develop him for next year.