The 2022-2023 NFL Honors has named their Comeback Player of the Year. It was a tight race for the entire season, with three names competing at the top: Saquon Barkley, Geno Smith, and Christian McCaffrey. Who won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award, and what did they do this season to deserve it?
Geno Smith Wins 2022-2023 Comeback Player of the Year
The 2022-2023 Comeback Player of the Year has been awarded to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith.
The Associated Press’ NFL Comeback Player of the Year award has been handed out consistently since 1998. It often goes to a player who has returned from some serious injury and performed at a high level. This year, that was not the case, as Smith was fully healthy last season — he just didn’t see the field.
Smith’s story in 2022 has been one of the best in the NFL. After coming into the league in 2014, and long seen as an afterthought, he spent the last two seasons in Seattle as the backup to Russell Wilson. His only action came when Wilson would miss the rare occasion due to injury. But, Smith never complained and simply waited for his time to come.
Well, this past offseason, the Seahawks decided to move on from Wilson and traded him to the Denver Broncos. In return, aside from the plethora of draft capital, Seattle received another quarterback in Drew Lock. While many expected the organization to select Wilson’s successor in the 2022 NFL Draft, Seattle surprised us all by opting to head into the offseason with Lock and Smith in a QB1 battle.
Even then, it was never clear why head coach Pete Carroll was so adamant to roll with Smith. Would the team trade for a free agent? Could Lock really turn things around after a tough time in Denver?
The simple answer was no. Instead, Carroll saw what he had in Smith and unleashed that potential in 2022.
Smith went on to put together a season that saw him lead the NFL in completion percentage (69.8), fourth in touchdown passes (30), and fifth in passer rating (100.9), earning his first Pro Bowl selection in his 10-year career.
Smith’s league-leading completion percentage also set a franchise record, as did his 399 completions, 572 attempts, and 4,282 passing yards.
At the start of the season, the Seahawks were expected to be one of the worst teams in the league, even leading most sportsbooks in odds to have the worst record in the NFL. Well, Smith’s impressive play fooled everyone, and Seattle even managed to sneak into the playoffs.
And if you expected the Seahawks to look at bringing in someone else next season to compete for the starting job, think again.
“He’s for real,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after Seattle’s playoff loss in Santa Clara. “Geno is the real deal. He can do all of the things that a terrific quarterback does.”