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With Baker Mayfield Off Market, Drew Lock and Geno Smith Set to Battle For Seahawks' QB Gig

While it may not be the most ideal quarterback competition between two former failed starters replacing a future Hall of Famer in Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll has been enthusiastic about Lock and Smith duking it out all offseason and now both players will get a fair shot at winning the starting job in Seattle.

For the past several months, the Seahawks have been persistently linked to disgruntled quarterback Baker Mayfield as a potential successor for Russell Wilson. But with the ex-Heisman Trophy winner now heading to Charlotte, the endless speculation can officially cease.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Panthers will send a conditional fifth-round pick to the Browns for Mayfield, acquiring the fifth-year signal caller to take over as their new starter. It remains unclear whether or not the team will sign him to a long-term contract after facilitating the trade.

With Mayfield now out of the picture and heading to the NFC South, barring an unforeseen move over the next few weeks to land someone such as 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo or Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, the Seahawks will move forward into training camp with veterans Geno Smith and Drew Lock vying to replace Wilson under center.

Throughout Seattle's offseason program, coach Pete Carroll has continuously stated Smith held the early edge due to his familiarity and command of offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's system. Performing admirably in three starts filling in for Wilson last season, he threw five touchdowns compared to only one interception while completing nearly 70 percent of his pass attempts, earning the respect of coaches and teammates alike.

Specifically, Smith developed a strong rapport with star receiver DK Metcalf, who turned in two of his best games with the backup orchestrating the offense. In the four games he played in last year, he connected with the former All-Pro 17 times on 21 pass attempts for 251 yards, four touchdowns, and a 151.6 passer rating.

Not surprisingly, Smith took the bulk of the first-team reps over the past two months in OTAs as well as minicamp. He should open training camp atop the depth chart with a chance to create additional separation during the first couple of weeks leading into exhibition games.

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However, Smith hasn't been handed the starting job yet and will have to earn the role next month against a game competitor in Lock.

Lock, 25, possesses all of the physical tools to be a viable NFL starting quarterback. Though things didn't work out for him in Denver and he lost his starting job to Teddy Bridgewater last year, both Carroll and general manager John Schneider have seemed genuinely intrigued by his skill set since acquiring him as part of the deal that sent Wilson to the Broncos in March and he will get every opportunity to win the job.

"Geno's still ahead, you can tell that, but it's not going to be too much for Drew to be caught up," Carroll said after mandatory minicamp last month. "By the time we get through camp, he'll be there. He's really bright, it makes sense to him, he's really sharp in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage and all of that, so it's just time that he needs and there's nothing we can do, but just, gain some more of that. The competition is in great shape."

While most teams in the NFL will know who their starting quarterback will be when camps open across the country later this month, the impending competition between Smith and Lock truly remains a 50/50 proposition for the Seahawks. A number of factors will ultimately dictate who wins the job, including taking care of the football, commanding the huddle, and being able to facilitate the ball to playmakers such as Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Noah Fant.

Last month, the two players split reps fairly evenly, particularly during situational drills. That trend should continue and those snaps will be under the microscope for Carroll and Waldron, especially in exhibition games against other teams, as they try to reach a verdict on selecting a starter.

With both players neck and neck rolling into camp, fans shouldn't be expecting that decision to be made anytime soon, as Carroll likely wont name one until after the second preseason game at the earliest. But with Mayfield no longer a possibility and report day only 20 days away, for better or worse, the chances of Smith or Lock being the starter against the Broncos in early September have gone up exponentially.