The Seahawks are going to have a new starting quarterback in 2022. That much we can state as fact. But other than that, we really can't definitively state anything.
We can't even be sure that every participant is currently in the organization. Baker Mayfield rumors persist, but right now the competition is a two-horse race between longtime backup Geno Smith and a former top draft prospect Drew Lock. Early reports indicate that Smith may be in the lead and there appears to be very little news thus far that would suggest anything has significantly changed. But the simple truth is: if the competition does indeed end up coming down to Lock or Smith, the choice is obvious—Lock needs to start.
What we need to understand about this competition is that neither option is "good enough" to get head coach Pete Carroll where he wants to go. Neither Smith nor Lock have produced enough quality tape to suggest they can lead a team to the playoffs. And if the playoffs aren't an option, Seattle has absolutely no logical reason to go with Smith.
With the utmost respect to Smith, the 31-year old has no chance of becoming the Seahawks' quarterback of the future. There is no evidence to suggest he has that ceiling. There is, however, plenty of evidence to suggest that Smith is a veteran backup and nothing more.
While Lock's résumé isn't exactly impressive either, the 25-year old does possess an upside that Smith hasn't. Lock's strong arm and athleticism cannot be matched by Smith; and the odds of Smith drastically improving with regular playtime are minimal. The odds are small, but the non-zero chance that Lock may develop into a long-term option is still significantly higher than that of Smith.
If the difference between Smith and Lock isn't a playoff position, giving reps to Smith is a waste of time. A higher floor is meaningless for the Seahawks in 2022. Carroll can talk all he likes about the playoffs and not rebuilding, but the fact remains that Lock's upside is Carroll's only shot to get there—short of the team signing a quarterback with even more upside like Mayfield.
Smith has earned a ton of respect, both from Seahawks fans and his locker room. His coaching staff trusts him and that does count for something, as well as his familiarity with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's system. But choosing a higher floor player simply to try and squeeze a seventh win from a six-win roster has absolutely no value to a team still searching for its long-term answer at quarterback.
Smith isn't that guy. But Lock could be, as unlikely as it is.
The 2022 Seahawks cannot ignore the 2023 team and while the current roster and coaching staff will surely prepare each day like they intend to win a Super Bowl, the cold reality dictates that they must choose the upside of safety at the quarterback position.