Mar 13, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith speaks to media during the press conference at The University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs World Problems: Alex Smith’s Contract

It didn’t take long for general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid to completely revamp the quarterback position in Kansas City. In less than four months the Chiefs moved on from Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, and Alex Tanney and replaced them with Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, and Tyler Bray. In fact, if everything goes to plan, none of the quarterbacks from the Chiefs 2012 active roster will be with Kansas City in 2013. This is what we call an overhaul.

But this overhaul didn’t come without a price. Dorsey sent the Chiefs 34th overall pick in this year’s draft and potentially a second round pick in next year’s draft to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for Smith, a heavy price to pay for any player.

Now consider Smith is already a year into a three-year deal he signed last offseason and things look dicier: Two top 60 picks (potentially) for two years of a slightly above average quarterback. In a lot of ways this trade is not much different from the Royals trade for James Shields except for Shields is a better player comparative to his sport and the Royals received two other players in the deal. The Chiefs lost out on players like wide receivers Justin Hunter and Robert Woods, tight end Zach Ertz, defensive end Margus Hunt, and inside linebackers Kiko Alonso and Arthur Brown because of the trade, and will lose out on similar players next year.

Smith is a good but not great quarterback. He is a late bloomer in part because of injuries and in part because of poor coaching. It is no coincidence that in his first full season under a good coach he found great success, going 13-3 with a 90.7 quarterback rating under John Jim Harbaugh. And while Smith will be playing under a good coach in Andy Reid, the problem is Smith is rarely healthy. 2011 marked just the second time in his career he played a full 16 game schedule. This means he has failed to play in all 16 games five times in seven seasons.

Some of those years are not for injury but because of poor play. In the last four years Smith has had a QBR of 40.2, 40.1, 45.8, and 70.1. Yes, the 70.1 he had in nine starts last year ranked him seventh in the NFL last season, but the three below average years before would have ranked him on par with Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Put this in comparison to Matt Cassel who had QBRs of 52.2 and 51.2 in 2010 and 2011 before falling off a cliff in 2012 with a 36.5.

Now, the argument here isn’t that Cassel is better than Smith, because that is not true either. The point is more that Smith is not the solution the Chiefs longterm quarterback needs. Smith is a smart player who will protect the ball, be efficient in the passing game, control the line of scrimmage, and help the running game, but he is not the dynamic presence a team needs to declare him a franchise quarterback. This is part of the reason why the 49ers had no issue benching him for Colin Kaepernick after Smith’s concussion and why they were fine with trading him to Kansas City. Smith a good but not great quarterback.

Again, all this for two second round picks and two years guaranteed.

So what should the Chiefs do about Smith’s two year deal? Trading two second round picks for Smith means that extending him beyond the 2014 season would be necessary in order to try to obtain the value they need for what they gave up. Remember, the Chiefs gave up at least eight combined seasons of two Arthur Brown type players for Smith. Five total years of above average play from Smith could end up equaling those eight years given the importance of the quarterback position.

The problem is Smith may never be more than average given his history as a player and could end up being the piece that holds the Chiefs back. Kansas City could draft a quarterback and start him over Smith but is it worth wrapping $10 million per season in a backup quarterback?

This is the quandary: Extend a slightly above average quarterback to maximize the value of the trade or lose the trade but get two solid years of quarterback play the Chiefs otherwise wouldn’t be receiving?

The answer is patience.

Dorsey should wait until next offseason to decide whether or not to extend Smith. He and Reid both have to figure out what they have in Smith as well as what the quarterback situation is going to be in next year’s draft. Based on Smith’s performance and what quarterbacks are available to the Chiefs should dictate the direction Dorsey goes when it comes to a potential extension.

Chiefs fans have wanted Kansas City to invest into a quarterback for a long time, and this administration appears willing to do so. They’ve invested heavily into a quarterback they think can win them a playoff game for the first time in decades, signed a reasonable backup, and picked up a young promising talent to try to develop. Two second round picks is an expensive price and more than what Smith was worth, but it is the price you have to pay if you’re looking to try to improve your team at the most important position. I’d much rather the Chiefs be aggressive in getting the quarterback they want than settling for a quarterback they are not interested in.


Tags: Alex Smith Kansas City Chiefs

  • chiefridgy

    Chiefs had to do something and he was the best available QB at the time I believe. If it wins us a playoff game or two I’m fine with it.

  • GrouchyChiefsFan

    I would just like to see 2 things from my quarterback at this point. 1) A guy that can throw the ball 60 yards in the air (and not out of bounds either). Someone please tell me if we’ve ever had a starting quarterback that could, maybe Grbac, Croyle? 2) Someone that can run a 2 minute drill. Recent coaches and Cassel had no freaking clue. I believe Alex can do these things.

  • Bobby

    Ben Nielsen this is one of the most ignorant posts I’ve come across, poor coaching was the least of Alex Smiths’ problems in the years before Harbaugh, it was more like Poor weapons,Poor O line, Poor Offensive scheme/system. You should have been able to research all these things before writing such a POOR article. Vernon Davis didnt even bloom until Coach Dingleberry sent him to the locker room during a game due to his Divaish personality and me only attitude. Crabtree was a non factor until Harbaugh came in and put another boot in his #ss and that still wasnt even until half way through the season. Talk about one of the worst O lines in the league giving up more sacks than a potato manufacturer, an offense that was all about running Frank Gore up the middle until it was 3rd and long and then oh yeah Alex how about your throw it deep and lets all cross our fingers and hope for a first down. Alex Smith is as good as the Brady’s, Brees and Rodgers of the league with a good system and weapons and decent O line. Things all of those QBs have had in spades for years. Do some more homework before writing another article on the Chiefs QB Alex Smith

  • Suzi Conger

    Ben, WOW.. your negative comments regarding ASmith are generalizations and lack substance. Where are your facts and stats to support your statements? (Aside from 6 years of a horrific SF nightmare, IE; benching VDavis, too ). Consider the following:

    * View the Ute/Pitt FIESTA BOWL Film; AS11 led Utes’ to a smashing 35-7 win; AND a FIRST in College History; that a Non BCS team earned a BCS berth. Oh yeah, All this while he earned his Bachelor Degree in only 2 years!!! WOW..Here’s the really fun part; AS led this ‘First-Ever’ Bowl win utilizing the ‘pistol/spread’ strategy!! ( Hmmmm, many people are wondering WHY Harb didn’t utilize all AS’s (previous) talents ?; ‘spread/’pistol’ ) AS’s Wonderlic Exam score = 40 !!! (PManning = 28, CK7 = 37 ALuck = 37)

    * AS11 endured 6 years of SF chaotic and horrific Management/Coaching ( CK7 had the luxury of entering NFL under ‘coach of the year’ ). See what ARodgers has to say about ASmith and the SF ‘fiasco’ he survived…I’ll trust ARodgers opinion, thank you. (Not to mention AReid, CAult, and JDorsey)

    * ALL AS’s teammates, including several PRO BOWLERS, consider ASmith Great; NOT just average; I’m going to go with their opinion before yours.
    * AS11 was ’12 NFL rated/ranked #3 QB,

    * #1 QB accuracy/completion%,

    *Offensive Player of the Week; rated 154!!

    *MVP and ProBowl Nominee (at time of concussion)

    *RedZone Success; AS11 achieved 20+% greater success in the red zone

    than CK7 (this includes CK’s rush TD’s)

    *3rd Down Conversions : AS11 achieved a 5+% greater success than CK7

    * SF achieved a 13-3 win ’11 season led by ASmith; If 10Williams had not delivered the NY win with his TWO crucial fumbles, AS11 would have led SF to the SB in ’12.

    ’12 season shared with CK7 , SF = 11/4/1 ( Remember, when AS/CK7 ‘shared the 1st Ram game, they tied. When CK started the 2nd Ram game, SF lost )

    * SeaHawks : SF won game led by AS11 and SF lost the game led by CK7

    *CK7 ’12 NFL QB rating = 16TH!! and CK7 DID NOT even make the nfl Top 5 PlayOff QB’s ratings.

    *SF/Harb/CK7 achieved an NFL History First: that a Superior rated QB (AS11) has been demoted/replaced by an Inferior QB ( CK7) 2) First SF QB to lose a SuperBowl 3) First SF QB to throw an SB interception 4) First SF QB to rank a measely 44TH for SuperBowl QB’s

    Nope, I’m gonna agree with NFL, the facts/stats, ProBowl/KCCTeam Mates, Reid, Dorsey, CAult, VDavis , ARodger’s, just to name a few Pro’s opinions regarding Alex. Alex is way above average; AS11 is great.

  • 7yahweh7

    Ben Neilson is just another Alex hating idiot. Let’s see Rodgers or Brady play any better with the trash Alex had to play with since 2005.

  • Helmar

    Jim Harbaugh was Alex Smith’s coach not John Harbaugh.

    • KC Kingdom

      Good catch, thanks.

  • Lewis Rigor

    Hello everyone. I am a disgruntled 9er fan of 40yrs. I am sick of the continued attacks against Alex. It warms my heart to see so many people support this great guy. I will no longer support the 9ers and their lame backstabbing ways. I will throw my supportto the Chiefs and all the other Chiefs fans. Alex will prove his worth and help bring pride back. Go Chiefs