Rumors are swirling that the Kansas City Chiefs could be the mystery team involved in the supposedly “effectively complete” trade for 49ers QB, Alex Smith.
As you can imagine, these rumors have caused quite a stir around Chiefs Nation. We’ve already shown you some of the fan reaction and it was far more negative than positive.
So how should we feel about all this, if indeed the rumors are true?
Before we can get into that, there are two things we need to consider.
1. The terms of the deal will tell us a lot.
2. The Chiefs could still draft a QB. Even in the first round.
First, let’s look at point #1.
We know there is likely to be a trade for Alex Smith but we don’t the details of such a deal. What are the 49ers asking for Smith?
While San Francisco probably would like something in the neighborhood of a second-round draft pick, it is hard to imagine them getting it. I am not saying a team wouldn’t give up a second for Smith but we have to consider the situation.
The 49ers have to move Smith or cut him. It would be a foolish use of salary cap space to pay Smith to sit on the bench in 2013. By dealing or cutting Smith, the 49ers would free some cap space that would enable them to pursue free agents at positions of need.
The rest of the NFL knows that the 49ers have their backs to the wall. That would lead me to believe that the trades being offered for Smith are relatively conservatives. Think third-round selections with conditions attached to them.
For instance, the Chiefs could offer the 49ers a 2014 third-round selection that would become a second-round pick if, say, Alex Smith leads the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game. Something like that.
Regardless of what the possible deals are, it is hard to imagine a team giving up a 2013 second-round pick for a QB they consider to be a one-year rental. So whenever we do find out more, the terms of the deal will tell us a lot about the trading team’s intentions for Smith moving forward. If Smith is acquired for a third-round pick, we can reasonably assume the team isn’t totally committed to him as a starter for the long-haul.
If, however, the pick is a second, particularly if it is a 2013 second, it may be that Smith’s new destination is investing in him as a long-term solution ala the Chiefs trading for QB Matt Cassel a few years back.
At the same time, when it comes to the NFL, anything is possible. On March 18, 2012, former Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn signed a three-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks worth $19.5 million, with $10 million guaranteed. A month later, Seattle selected Russell Wilson in the third-round of the NFL Draft and Wilson beat out Flynn for the starting job in training camp.
If the Chiefs do trade for Smith, we will have to take a hard look at what they give up. Bringing in Smith doesn’t mean the Chiefs drafting a QB in 2013 is off the table.
Which brings us to point #2.
The Seattle Seahawks example above is a perfect illustration that Chiefs fans shouldn’t jump to conclusions if the team does trade for Smith.
NFL teams are getting smarter about the QB position. GMs and head coaches know that the position is becoming far to important for them to bet the farm on one guy. For teams without an Andrew Luck or RG3, the more quality QBs they can bring in, the better. Heck, even the Denver Broncos drafted a QB in the second-round in 2012, just weeks after signing Peyton Manning in free agency.
As far as I am concerned, the Chiefs have an empty QB depth chart. Think about that. Yes, I know Matt Cassel and Ricky Stanzi will still be under contract come 2013 but you have to look at this from the point of view of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and GM John Dorsey.
They’ve come into a situation where Cassel, who has been the starter for most games over the last few years, has led the team to only one winning season. Cassel was benched for Brady Quinn, who was arguably even worse than his predessesor. As for Stanzi, he couldn’t get on the field at all over the last two years, despite playing for two different head coaches. These coaches, Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel, were both in jeopardy of losing their jobs. Still, neither of them turned to Stanzi, instead favoring Tyler Palko and Brady Quinn.
There is a chance Reid and Dorsey will gut the entire KC QB depth chart.
Alex Smith is only one QB. If Reid and Dorsey feel that there are QBs they like in the 2013 Draft, but they don’t feel any of them are ready to start right away, it makes sense they would consider acquiring a talented veteran QB to keep the position warm until the youngster is ready.
The NFL is a bottom line business. Coaches and GMs get judged on wins. Dorsey and Reid are smart enough to know that the Chiefs have a talented enough roster to win in 2013. They may feel that solid QB play is necessary for that to happen and they may believe that they can get that in Alex Smith over any of the rookies available in this year’s draft.
Jim Harbaugh did the same thing in San Francisco a year ago. He came in and drafted the guy he wanted in Colin Kaepernick but he didn’t immediately throw the rookie to the wolves. Instead, Harbaugh stuck with Alex Smith when most people thought he would get rid of the struggling QB. The 49ers made it all the way to the AFC Championship game under Smith while Harbaugh developed Kaepernick.
Alex Smith’s contract is through the 2014 season. His coming to KC would be totally different than when Matt Cassel was given a long-term deal by Scott Pioli. The Chiefs could simply pay Smith for one-year and then do exactly what the 49ers are doing now; trade him away or cut him.
Chiefs fans may feel Alex Smith is another version of Matt Cassel but it is important that they realize that it is unlikely KC sees Smith as their QB of the future. It is much more likely that the Chiefs see Smith as their QB of 2013.
Trading say, a third for Smith and drafting a QB in the first or the second round of the 2013 Draft would be a big investment in the QB position.
But considering the circumstances, it is the type of investment the Chiefs need to make.
Smith to KC would much more likely be a “win now, develop a QB to win with later” move than a “Alex Smith or bust” move.