Dec 9, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws the ball before the game against the Miami Dolphins at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Two Sides of the Alex Smith Trade

I’m torn about the Alex Smith trade. One side of me likes the trade, and thinks it makes the Chiefs a better team, while the other side of me hates the trade and questions the direction of the franchise under the new regime. Obviously, I am as torn as most of Chiefs nation appears to be. So let me break down my pros and cons of the Alex Smith trade.

Pros

It’s taken me a couple of days to accept this, but the Alex Smith trade does make sense. It makes a whole lot of sense for the 49ers, who reportedly get a 2nd rounder in 2012 and a conditional 3rd rounder in 2013. It makes sense for Alex Smith, who is going to a team that has seemingly fully committed to him for the foreseeable future, especially if the rumor of a proposed 5-year deal has any legitimacy. And finally, it makes sense for the Chiefs, and let me explain why.

The Chiefs are not that young of a team. They have veterans scattered throughout the team, especially on defense, where guys like Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers are in their prime and might not be by the time a rookie quarterback developed into the kind of player that can consistently make the team a contender. The same goes for guys like Eric Winston and Jamaal Charles on offense, and no telling how many good years Charles has left in him (history is not on his side).

By bringing in Alex Smith, the Chiefs brought in a good player that can bring the consistency that has been lacking in Kansas City for years under center, as well as a player that has proven he can not only lead a team to the playoffs, but be a star in a playoff win. Smith is a veteran that has been around the block, can provide instant leadership to a locker room, and is not Matt Cassel. Those seem like wins all around.

For those saying the price paid for Smith was too high, I thought it was at first as well, but when looking at other trades involving quarterbacks, it’s actually pretty consistent. In 2009, newly-hired Chief, Scott Pioli, traded that year’s second round pick for Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel. In 2011, the Arizona Cardinals traded cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and their second round pick for Kevin Kolb who, much like Alex Smith, had lost his starting job due to injury (by current Chiefs head coach Andy Reid). Unlike Smith, however, Kolb had a much shorter track record. Throw in that Rodgers-Cromartie is more valuable than a 3rd round pick, you could say the Chiefs gave up less for Alex Smith than the Cardinals did for Kolb. That sounds like a good deal.

And by committing to Alex Smith, the Chiefs have opened up the draft to bring depth to other positions the Chiefs need. While it was looking less and less likely that the Chiefs would draft a quarterback number one overall, the top of the second round looked very likely for a target at the position. While there was no guarantee what players at that position would be available by the time the Chiefs selected with the 34th overall pick, the Chiefs made the assessment that Alex Smith was a better 2nd round pick than whoever else would be left on draft day. That seems to mesh up with everything analysts around the league were saying, so it seems like a smart move.

Cons

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Chiefs did it again. Instead of taking a chance with a rookie quarterback with the hopes of developing him under QB “guru” Andy Reid, the Chiefs switch into safe mode, pull a Carl Peterson, and trade for a veteran quarterback from the Bay Area.

Listen, I’m not saying that Alex Smith=Elvis Grbac=Steve Bono=Steve Deberg. That isn’t fair to him. But you better be sure that Alex Smith ≠ Joe Montana. It’s like the Chiefs are allergic to risk no matter the administration. Why must we always get General Managers who are terrified to take a quarterback in the first round? And for everyone saying that there was no quarterback worth the #1 pick, I want you to consider this:

Just because last year produced amazing rookie quarterbacks, and that the top two best players available just happened to be quarterbacks, doesn’t mean that the Chiefs should be opposed to taking a quarterback this year number one. The 2012 draft for quarterbacks was a once-in-a-generation draft class, and to judge this year’s crop of quarterbacks to last year’s isn’t fair to either the players or the history of the draft. Instead of asking if Geno Smith or Matt Barkley are as good of a prospect as Andrew Luck, you should ask yourself if Geno Smith or Matt Barkley are as good of a prospect as Sam Bradford? Or Cam Newton? How about Matt Stafford? While all of those quarterbacks turned out pretty good in the NFL, none of them were the best player available during their respective drafts, yet were drafted first overall because of their position. Because, believe it or not, teams that pick first are usually the same ones that need a quarterback. This year’s QBs will forever live in the shadow of last year’s, and it’s not quite right. Not saying I would take Geno Smith number one, just saying to look at it in a different light.

But the Chiefs will not be taking Geno Smith, or Matt Barkley, or probably any other quarterback in this draft. Why would they? If Tyler Wilson is available at the beginning of the third round, do you think the Chiefs will take him after just spending a 2nd round pick on a quarterback? I don’t, not with as many team needs as the Chiefs have. So instead of taking a chance on a quarterback on the second day of the draft, we are stuck with Alex Smith, and just like that, have gone from Cassel to Cassel 2.0.

This brings up a legitimate question: would you rather have kept Matt Cassel and the draft picks, or would you have done the trade? Don’t laugh, this is a serious question. Alex Smith, the same guy who has never thrown for 20 touchdowns in a season, the same guy that has only played all 16 regular season games twice in his career, the same guy that, before the best head coach in the NFL showed up, had his best season represented by an even number of touchdowns and turnovers? Sorry if I’m not completely sold on Alex Smith. Perhaps it was because I watched 49ers games before 2011, including the one in 2010, where I saw the Chiefs and Matt Cassel dismantle the 49ers, while Alex Smith completed less than 55% of his passes, threw an interception, and recorded a total quarterback rating of 12.4. The Chiefs won that game 31-10. And for those saying the 49ers didn’t have a good team around Smith, you are aware they went to the NFC Championship game a year later, right? So, at this point, I’m not sure if I wouldn’t have kept Cassel and taken a chance with a QB in the second, or use that pick to trade into the first to grab a QB. The “Bad Team Tax” seems like too much.

Oh, by the way, all those GMs that traded for QBs from other teams I mentioned earlier: they are all currently unemployed.

And as far as the Chiefs being a better team with Smith in 2013 than they would have been with a rookie QB: I completely agree. But it’s not like I expect the Chiefs to be a playoff team in 2013 anyway. Without Smith and with, say, Barkley, the Chiefs might be a 4-6 win team. With Smith, what are the Chiefs? A 6-8 win team? Maybe I’m underselling the Chiefs, but the team had more woes than the quarterback position, and while improved coaching hopefully solves a lot of those problems, I just can’t say how good the Chiefs actually are. I just don’t expect the Chiefs to be very good next year either way, so in that case, why not let it ride with a rookie quarterback? Get the growing pains out of the way while the team continues to add depth and by 2014, be a playoff contender. If you are expecting Alex Smith to act as a jumpstart and get the Chiefs back in to meaningful December games, I just think you will be disappointed.

Alright, that’s the end of my pros and cons. If you thought I ended on too negative of a note, just go ahead and re-read the pros. I’m still on the fence about this trade, so I’d like to see your thoughts in the comment section as well as on twitter (my handle is @tipof_arrowhead). Let me know what you think Chiefs Nation!

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