A friend of mine from college lived in a house in Venice, California for almost 20 years and usually had at least three roommates. But the tenant turnover rate was high, and to keep his own rent low, he was often tasked with finding new occupants.

One day when I was visiting, a prospective tenant looked at the place and told my friend that he was there and that he would deliver the check tomorrow.

“Well, that problem is solved,” I said.

“Nah,” my friend replied. “Until that check is in my hand, none of it meant anything.”

People say many different things for many different reasons. This is true of renters, this is true of real high school athletes who verbally commit, and for the sake of this column, this may be true of NFL coaches, general managers, and quarterbacks.

There is talk that Geno Smith will be the starting signal for the Seahawks next year. Ask coach Pete Carroll, general manager John Schneider or the quarterback himself about it, and the answers indicate the Return to player of the year will surely return to Seattle.

Until that contract is signed, I would be skeptical. Although Geno has shown that he is worth a lot of money, he did not do enough to win. Great money.

The Seahawks were one of the most surprising teams in the league last season, having far exceeded the basement expectations generated by the Russell Wilson trade. To go 9-8 and slip into the playoffs with five rookies starting personified the accomplishment.

The main factor in that unexpected rise was Smith, a seven-year backup who stepped into the starting role before leading the NFL in completion percentage (69.8) and finishing fifth in passer rating (100.9).

Phenomenal story… for the first half of the season.

Something happened in the last eight games of the schedule as Seattle went from 6-3 to 9-8. There were losses to the Bucs, Panthers and Raiders, none ending with winning records, which nearly cost the Seahawks what once seemed like a clinched playoff spot.

gene was not there awful on this stretch. He produced passing grades of at least 103 in four of the last eight games he’s played. But there were also seven interceptions that season, two of which came on the Seahawks’ first offensive play of the game, and a glaring lack of magic that was common in the Wilson era.

It was as if the writers had gone on strike before writing the third act of their script, leaving the rest of Smith’s story in the hands of scabs. And you have to wonder if the blessing of Geno’s play last season will become a liability in the future.

If he were forgettable, the Seahawks bosses would be faced with an easy decision: Strengthen this team during the draft and use salary cap space to shore up as many weaknesses as possible. There are many of them. From the pass rush (or the front seven in general) to the offensive line and receiving corps, areas for improvement abound on this team.

If you look at the four teams still alive in the postseason, three have quarterbacks playing on rookie contracts (49ers, Eagles and Bengals), while the Chiefs have the consensus best quarterback in the league in Patrick Mahomes. That’s usually how you win in the NFL. It builds around a young person calling the mark or token to one of the top three in football.

Overpaying for Smith (sportrac.com has a market value of $39.3 million per year) would cripple the Seahawks more than it would help.

Smith’s postgame interview after the playoff loss to the Niners was as genuine as it was moving. When asked about his future with the Seahawks, he said: “They hugged me at a time when there weren’t a lot of people. I feel like that means a lot to me. I have a lot of loyalty in me and I want to pay those guys back for doing that.”

Carroll and Schneider spoke with the same desire about Smith’s return. But let’s be real: What else were they supposed to say?

The reality is that Smith’s pretty good 2022 was by far the best season he’s produced since he was drafted in 2013. That’s not much to go on.

Geno’s return would be touching, no doubt. But if he asks for a lot, it may be too much.

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