November 25, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) paces the sidelines during first quarter of their game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) started the game instead of Smith. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs 2013 Quarterback Situation

We all know that the quarterback situation is a need that would be foolish not to address this offseason. And by address, I mean not continue with Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn. Whether the Chiefs take a quarterback first overall has yet to be seen, but nothing is a certainty, especially with this draft class. And even with taking a quarterback first overall, or even later in the first or early in the second, doesn’t mean that quarterback will be the starting quarterback for the Chiefs next season.

Jake Locker was drafted in the 1st round in 2011, but Matt Hasselbeck had been brought in for competition and ended up winning the starter’s job. Christian Ponder was drafted in the same first round as Locker, and also started the season on the bench until Vikings head coach couldn’t stand Donovan McNabb’s awfulness anymore. Heck, back in 2003, Carson Palmer was drafted #1 overall to Cincinnati and didn’t even start his rookie year behind (drumroll) Jon Kitna.

Some quarterbacks are NFL-ready when they arrive – Andrew Luck, RG3, Russell Wilson, etc. Others would be better off with a year to learn the offense. And while coaching staffs usually feel immediate pressure to start a first round pick their rookie year, especially at the quarterback position, that doesn’t mean that’s what’s best for the team. Could you convince me that Blaine Gabbert might not look like such a bust if he had a year or two to adjust to the NFL? Probably not. And let’s not forget that a lot of people thought that the Colts would draft Luck while also keeping Peyton Manning, sort of like the Aaron Rodgers-Brett Favre scenario in Green Bay not too long before that.

What I’m saying is: it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have another QB on the roster that is credible competition.

And since that potential competition is probably not on the roster – I have very little faith in Ricky Stanzi and even the mystique of Alex Tanney isn’t enough to convince me – it will likely have to come in free agency.

With the free agents at the position, there are three different classes that I believe quarterbacks fall into. The lowest level are backups that have just had their contracts expire and are looking for jobs: Brian Hoyer, Drew Stanton, both McCown’s, etc. The middle level are those who have had significant playing time, but for some reason or another, have found themselves in a backup role and are best suited in that backup role: Jason Campbell, Tarvaris Jackson, Rex Grossman, Matt Moore, Matt Leinart, David Carr. The highest level is the one where quarterbacks are highly sought, and for some reason became a free agent: this would include Manning’s release from Indianapolis last season, the impending release of Tony Romo (just kidding), and Carl Peterson’s wisdom to go with Elvis Grbac over Rich Gannon. This third category doesn’t happen often, and usually has an interesting story behind it, or at least the name of a younger talented quarterback.

If, somehow, Joe Flacco craps his pants in the Super Bowl and the Ravens say, screw it, we’re changing direction, then he will find himself in that third category. But since that is unlikely, and since I wasn’t really impressed with any of the names I mentioned earlier in the first two levels of free agent quarterbacks, what are the Chiefs to do?

Enter Alex Smith.

The 49ers may or may not trade him, but it’s already been leaked that Smith will request a release from the team in order to pursue the most possibilities for employment. With the last season and a half of resume, Smith will be pursued in free agency, and will likely come on a short contract, possibly even one year, although I’m sure he and his agent will try for three. If the Chiefs could get Smith on a two-year deal or less, I think that it’s a no-brainer the move makes sense.

A lot of people, of course, disagree with that sentiment. The very intelligent Bob Fescoe, one that speaks logically and wisely at all times, and someone that I would never speak facetiously about (I am) tweeted out that anyone that wants Alex Smith on the Chiefs is OK with mediocrity. I happen to disagree with that. Alex Smith is not a long-term answer, and everyone would know that, especially if we draft his replacement this season. What Smith would be is a stop-gap; someone to tutor and mentor a young quarterback who could find himself in a similar situation that Smith was in back in 2005. And besides, there’s no such thing as a bad one-year contract.

Smith was perhaps the latest blooming quarterback since Jim Plunkett, but he did find that consistency that was so lacking early in his career. It’s amazing what a good head coach and an offensive coordinator that lasts more than a year can do. Since the beginning of the 2011 season, Alex Smith had a 64.3 completion percentage, 4,881 yards, a 7.36 yards per attempts, with 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. True, Smith did his best in an offense that didn’t allow him to expose himself like a West Coast Offense surely would, his numbers are still impressive.

While the effectiveness of former 49ers quarterbacks coming over to the Chiefs has had mixed results – Joe Montana, Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac – I hold that against Smith about as much as I hold USC quarterback struggles in the NFL against Matt Barkley; not at all. The Chiefs need to improve their quarterback situation, and if that means bringing in Alex Smith and Geno Smith to compete against each other for the starter’s job, how is that a bad thing?


My Super Bowl Pick: San Francisco 27      Baltimore 17

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  • Lyle Graversen

    Two problems I see:

    1. After what he went through in SF I can’t see him being interested in going somewhere where he is just a place holder for a young guy. If he can find a gig where they will commit to him starting he’ll take that job in a heartbeat.

    2. Alex Smith would inherit KC’s hatred of Matt Cassel. What I mean is that KC fans are so tired of mediocre hand me down QBs that we pick up from other teams that as soon as he struggled he’d face the same ire that Cassel has. Smith would have to walk in and play at the same high level he did under Harbaugh right away or fans would be calling for the young guy by the second quarter of their first game of the season. But if KC finally drafts a first round QB after all these years that guy could struggle out of the gate and fans would understand. It would give KC fans the clean start that they have been waiting for and buy the new administration more time to turn things around.

    • john woodley

      Agree completely !

    • Doc

      While I will agree mostly with your reasoning, especially #1, I think Alex would be a good one year stop gap pick up to give G-spot a year to acclimate to the NFL. If G-spot can beat out Alex at some point this year, then that is how it plays out. Would you rather G-spot be tutored by Cassel or Quinn? I wouldn’t. Alex was benched due to a concussion and Colin was producing on the field. In KC when a starter goes down and comes back, they immediately get their starting job back even if their replacement was producing on the field. LJ versus Charles. Grbac versus Gannon. Cassel versus Orton. Without having any real quality at WR, we might be throwing G-spot under the bus the first year. Better to take one year and get the WRs we need and let him take the reins next year.

      • john woodley

        Alex will be able to pick where he wants to go, really don’t think there is a chance he will want to come to a team that would take a qb #1, Ithink we should look into a less popular matt moore for a year

      • Jim Harper

        What KC has done in the past has no relivence now. Completely new regime here now.

    • sidibeke

      Good point about Alex not wanting to come to a team looking to draft a young QB high. Then again, could working with Reid be a selling point?

    • KCMikeG

      With you on this Lyle. What I can’t figure out is why anyone thinks Alex Smith is any better than Cassel. Nathan did in this post, as I have heard repeatedly, claim that Smith got better with a good HC/OC. True but how is that any different than Cassel 2008 & 2010? Everyone was speaking of getting rid of Smith just like Cassel until Harbaugh showed up. Most agree that Smith was a decent game manager and that he did NOT lead them on their playoff run last year. So why spend more money on another “game manager” when we already have one under contract. I also think your point is true that Smith isn’t going to want to have to compete in hopes of having a starting role. He knows with Smith, Wilson, Glennon, etc he will be right back where he was this year.

  • Adrian Morales

    I say we take an approach like Seattle and let it be known the whole team is in a open competition… It makes everybody better knowing the next guy up can do your job as well

  • Arrowhead Adventurer

    I like the “open competition” suggestion. I think we need Smith in KC too.

  • drtold

    I would take Alex Smith only if we aren’t drafting a qb in the first round. C’mon it’s not nice to mess around with Alex Smith, he’s already been jerked around enough as it is. I would take Alex and draft a qb in the second round, and also we need to get Gonzo back for his final 2 years, lol. We could trade Atlanta a tight end and a third round pick.

    • Jim Harper

      Now you are thinking with your heart and not your head. That would be a dumb move. Besides that, IF Gonzo comes back it will be with Atlanta where he barely missed going to a super bowl.

  • tm1946

    Except what if Alex Smith with Reid can not only usable but a top notch QB?

    We need to get out of the Geno mode, unless Reid drafts him of course. Could be the Matt Cassel experiment may have warped our thinking. How many years did the Chiefs stay away QBs after Blackledge? It seem to me that we have bought into Geno’s agent view, do not show anything and keep your draft position. We all love the backup QB holding his clipboard while the starter is getting killed on the field. So Geno get the tag of the next great doing nothing but breathing.

  • betteretter

    I think we should get Alex Smith then grab Luke Joekel.Then pick Tyler Wilson we can move Albert to rt tackle move Eric Winston to guard.

    • Michael Shaw

      Albert will be signed before that and I am betting there will be a stipulation that he stays at LT, which is where he wants to play, period.

  • Gene Yuknis

    here’s my take on this. pick up alex smith for a year. build your dynasty now and next year through the draft. draft a qb next year., keep building a dream team. lets face it people, we need more than a first round qb to take us to the big dance. would love to pick up the next derrick thomas or jj watt now and grow from there. i brought this scenario up several weeks ago and everyone thought i was nuts. now it’s staring us in the face.

  • ArrowFan

    Two QB’s named Smith. Better yet two QB’s and a DL man named Smith. We should try and get a WRnamed Smith as well. It reminds of a joke.

    I once knew a guy with a wooden leg named Smith. Owe yea whats the name of his other leg?

  • sidibeke

    No doubt we need 3 QBs for next season with at least 1 coming from FA and the draft.

  • RaggedRobin

    “True, Smith did his best in an offense that didn’t allow him to expose himself like a West Coast Offense surely would, his numbers are still impressive.” Flat out false information. Harbaugh/Roman’s system IS a West Coast Offense in terminology and route concepts. You could even argue that it’s more of a pure WCO than Reid’s.