The Seahawks' season didn't finish how Geno Smith envisioned, but the quarterback does have an optimistic view of his future with the team.
"I want to finish my career in Seattle," Smith told reporters following his team's 41-23 wild-card loss to the 49ers on Saturday. "I want to be here. The town, the city, the team, coach [Pete] Carroll, the organization, they all embraced me. I was a guy who probably could've been out of the league. They embraced me. And I want to repay them for that."
Smith, who enjoyed a surprise breakout this season at the age of 32 with a franchise-record 4,282 passing yards, stood strong again in his first-ever playoff start. Although he had a costly fumble that ended a promising third-quarter drive and also threw a pick, he was a clear leader on offense with 253 yards and two TD throws.
His story ultimately fell short, but his performance Saturday backed up the year he had, and his coach backed up his desire to keep building something.
"He's for real," Pete Carroll told reporters after the game. "Geno's the real deal. He can do all of the things that a terrific quarterback does. His movement was probably more of a surprise than anything, that he was so efficient with his movement. I mean he could always throw it. But his ability to stay poised and calm throughout the year. With all the hype and the buildup, it could've gone south five different times, and he didn't. He never wavered. His leadership really stood out. His voice in the locker room, his voice with our players. He said the right stuff all year. Right up 'til today.
"It's a great story. It's a great story for a lot of players, in other sports, wherever you want to go. If you keep hanging in there and believe in yourself. You don't let the messaging outside of you affect who you are and what you are, you'll find your best. And I think Geno's found his best. He's ready to come back and go again. I thought he had just an unbelievably great season for us."
When asked in a follow up if Smith would be back, Carroll kept it simple: "I hope so."
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday morning that the pending free-agent Smith is expected to return in 2023 -- be it on the franchise tag or with a longer contract -- and everything the coach and quarterback said following their season's end confirms the reunion is in the works.
Those details will have to be ironed out at some point soon.
For now, the Seahawks are equipped with two extra picks in the first two rounds of the 2023 draft thanks to trading their QB of the past, Russell Wilson. That's a lot of opportunity to help their likely QB of the future continue his ascent.
"A part of me wants to say, "Man, we came such a long way.' Overcame so many obstacles,'" Smith said. "Of course the naysayers and what not. Beat their expectations. But I don't think we beat our own expectations. I think we've had far greater expectations for ourselves. So, what I see for this team is a team with a bright future. A lot of young guys on this team got a lot of experience. First playoff game, my first playoff start. We've got a long ways to go. I'm excited about the future. I know we can be a lot better, and it's just going to take a lot of commitment. I'm in it for the long haul. I'm ready to go."