Sep 19, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Chiefs defeated the Eagles 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Brandt Talks Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick Contracts

Andrew Brandt has written an interesting piece for MMQB about the interesting contract situations for both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. The story is interesting in and of itself because Kaepernick supplanted Smith as the starter for San Francisco, so the timing plays well, and trying to identify what Kaepernick and Smith’s value is on the market is difficult to judge.

Using Kaepernick’s new deal as a guideline or expectation for Smith is probably a false equivalency, however. Reading Brandt’s piece, while Kapernick and Smith do share a lot of similarities, the basis for approaching their new contracts are completely different.

There were two interesting things in here from Brandt about Smith and his contract negotiations with the Chiefs. First, Brandt seems to imply that Smith holds most the cards in the negotiations. Part of his reasoning is based on this quote:

Smith can be patient as he (1) is scheduled to make a respectable $8 million this season and (2) has accumulated significant career earnings, $57.65 million since entering the NFL as the top pick in the 2005 draft. That luxury gives Smith and Condon the ability to resist jumping at a front-loaded deal.

Basically, Smith is already wealthy and will make a lot of money this season, so there is no sense of urgency on his part to get a deal done immediately. Kaepernick was a different story as he was drafted in the second round and was apart of the new collective bargaining agreement. Smith was a first overall pick in the old collective bargaining agreement and has made, as Brandt said, millions in earnings already.

Tom Condon can use this to his advantage in negotiations as there is no urgency for him to get a deal done now. The simple play here for him is to tell the Chiefs “pay him or he walks.” Kansas City can respond with the franchise tag but that’s still a win for Smith as he’d make $17-plus million under the tag and would still be eligible for free agency the following season. Condon can simply sell Smith on the idea that not signing a deal this offseason is essentially the equivalent of signing a one-year, $17 million deal for 2015 should the Chiefs want to keep him. If the Chiefs don’t want to keep him then Smith is the on the free agent market and will be open to an expensive bidding war.

It is a win-win for Smith.

The second thing Brandt discusses is what a contract could look like from the Chiefs should they decide to offer one.

Pressed to predict what will happen here, I would forecast a deal that may give the impression of being “long-term” but in actuality it would be an extended engagement rather than a marriage. In this scenario, Condon would implement the structure used with the Colts for Manning in 2011: substantial amount in 2014, perhaps $15-20 million, followed by a considerable March 2015 option to extend the contract another four or five years. This would allow both sides future flexibility if they decide to only be together one more year.

Brandt notes that if the Chiefs were set with Smith as their franchise quarterback then they probably would have signed him to an extension by now. For every day that passes without a Smith contract extension the more it can be assumed John Dorsey and Andy Reid are not sold on Smith as the Chiefs quarterback of the future.

The one problem with Brandt’s proposal in that the Chiefs only have $2.8 million in cap space available for the 2014 season. Signing Smith to a deal that increases his 2014 pay with the idea of having him at a cheaper number for 2015 and beyond should the Chiefs decide to keep him only works if the Chiefs can open up enough cap space.

Maybe this is where Brandon Flowers comes into play, a player could save the Chiefs $7 million in cap room for 2014 if cut.  Add the $7 million in savings to Smith’s 2014 salary and … you’ve got a $15 million salary for Smith, which is right in Brandt’s range.

Here’s the reality of the situation: Alex Smith is going to get paid. The timing and team are still yet to be determined.

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  • jason collins

    If Condon is smart he won’t push for too much. A franchise tag then letting Smith walk would kill his future earning… unless Smith wins a superbowl. Ain’t nobody signing a 33 year QB to a huge contract if said QB hasn’t won a big game. Call his bluff. Smith isn’t stupid. If he wins a Bowl, pay him. It’s the only way to justify such a large sum.

    • Ben Nielsen

      Drew Brees signed his $100 million deal at age 33. Tony Romo signed his $108 million deal at age 33. Jay Cutler just signed his big deal and he’s 31. And that ignores the huge salaries Peyton Manning and Tom Brady make.

      I don’t think age is going to play a big part in this.

  • freshmeat62

    If Smith is willing for the Chiefs to release a good player, Flowers or whoever, and weaken the team so that he can selfishly make more, screw him, and let the SOB go. I like Smith, I think he is one of the best QB’s right now, but I don’t mortgage the future of the team on one player.

    What Kaepernick is making is ridiculous. Same for Cutler. They’re not worth it. I’ll go on a limb right now and say that SF and Chi. won’t be in a SB while those 2 are still on their teams eating up that much of their cap. Has Cutler taken the Bears even to the playoffs? I don’t remember it if he has.

    I for one think these ‘duel threat’ QB’s, like Kaepernich, RGIII, Wilson are only good until they get busted up. Look at RGIII, he looked good until he got busted up, and then last year he was just another OK QB. I probably shouldn’t even say that he was an OK QB. The same will eventually happen to all of these running QB’s

    • Ben Nielsen

      It should be noted that was Andrew Brandt’s contract idea, not what Alex Smith is asking for. Just want to make it clear Smith isn’t asking for the Chiefs to cut anyone so he can get paid more money. …At least not publicly, anyway.

      • freshmeat62

        I heard a report on TV a couple days ago he was asking $112/mil for 6 yrs., and that was before the Kaepernick deal was announced. I think it was Adam Schefter, who’s is usually pretty reliable, but …

        • Ben Nielsen

          I’d be wary of those reports to a certain degree. Additionally, how the contract is structured will mean more than what the max value of the contract really is.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Agreed. The only things that really matter are the years, structure, and guaranteed money involved.

  • berttheclock

    WOW! $61 M Guaranteed for a QB who took his team to the SB and won, right?

    Oh, you mean for a QB who didn’t know how to work out of the pocket and cost his team a win to go to the SB.

    The playoff game against the Seahawks showed the flaws in Kaepernick’s game. In order for the Niners to win, they must have a power running game. Against the Seahawks, Gore was held to 14 yards. Kaepernick was their leading rusher when he scrambled for 130 yards. But, this is not where the Niners are effective. His running only set up some FGs, but, did not sustain drives. When, he had to stay in the pocket, he threw 2 costly interceptions. His rating for the game was 56.4, whereas, Wilson had a rating of 104.6 and Lynch, their powerful RB, ran for 109 games. If any QB coming out of that game deserved the $61 M, it was Russell Wilson, not Colin Kaepernick. Let Trent Baalke waste his money. Please, John Dorsey, do not follow suit. Unfortunately, wasteful contracts do appear to set the agenda. As an example, look at the contract for Bowe. Dorsey was left little choice as he needed an experienced wide out to stay and Tampa Bay had overpaid Vincent Jackson and Miami had vastly overpaid Wallace. So, Dorsey had to fit Bowe between those bloated contracts. Sort of like wanting to buy toys for your kids from Toys R’Us, but, your child keeps yelling Jimmy’s mother buys his from Nieman Marcus.

    • Ben Nielsen

      It should be noted only $13 million is actually guaranteed. De-escolatores and different benchmarks have to be hit for him to activate the full $61 million.

      • berttheclock

        Thanks, but, my point is Hype is out ahead of production. During the season, the OC tried to win with CK’s legs and the offense faltered until he brought back the power game of Gore. That helped set up CK. But, CK is never going to carry his team on his own.

        • Ben Nielsen

          Would seem SF agrees based on the contract they gave him. If he hits his ceiling then he’s worth every bit of the max value of his contract. If not, $13 million is a bargain for what he’s already given them.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Niners brass really did their jobs with this one.

      • berttheclock

        Yeah, did you see some of those de-escalators such as not making the Super Bowl and not making All Pro? More akin to a one year guaranteed deal. Baalke is looking more financially astute than I had imagined.

    • PhataLerror

      “The playoff game against the Seahawks showed the flaws in Kaepernick’s game. In order for the Niners to win, they must have a power running game…. Let Trent Baalke waste his money. Please, John Dorsey, do not follow suit.”

      Colin Kaepernick wasn’t effective for the 49ers in the NFC Conference Championship despite a rich roster in 2013, but what does that have to do with Alex Smith? Smith guided a depleted 2011 roster to the brink of a Conference Championship victory before two game-deciding special teams turnovers lost the game. Smith does throw well in the pocket, and Smith has a history of winning games where the running game didn’t produce well as long as the playcalling was balanced.

      Despite what the talking heads of the NFL and ESPN would want you to believe, Kaepernick continues to be inferior to Smith after three years of development by one of the NFL’s best coaching squads. Don’t make the mistake of comparing the two directly: Smith’s agent has every reason to demand guarantees that were never offered to Kaepernick’s in his recently signed prove-it contract.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    The ONLY reason I would franchise Smith is to give Murray more time to get ready to replace him. There are far too many other pressing contract situations to make a rental of Alex Smith in 2015. If they don’t get the deal done and they think Murray’s ready to step in, they should just let Smith walk. Tying up money for a guy you aren’t planning to keep isn’t beneficial to this team. His demands aren’t going to go down. The market will continue to grow. There could be 1-2 more quarterbacks in the $100 million club by then. None of that benefits Kansas City. Smith holds all of the cards here.

    • freshmeat62

      Agree! I’d put Murray and Bray on the fast track, and hopefully one will develop this year. If it looks like they need 1 more year, then, and only then, franchise Smith.

      I absolutely loved what I saw of Bray’s arm last preseason, but it sounds like Murray may be the better NFL QB.

      • unclejesse40

        What I am hearing is that Bray/Murray are light years behind Smith/Daniels on their reads. That would be expected of Murray but Bray being here for a full year and still struggling might be a sign that hes a blind man with a cannon.

        • Ben Nielsen

          August is going to be huge for Bray.

          • Lyle Graversen

            My hope for Bray was never really that he’d develop into our starting QB, but rather that Reid could make him look good enough to deal him for a draft pick. While I like Bray’s talent, he never really seemed like a Reid style QB. I think the fact that Reid wanted Alex Smith shows that he wants a smart QB that can handle his full playbook and really lead the team, that’s not the scouting report on Bray. It does however match up with the perception of Murray.

          • unclejesse40

            That’s very true, and how cool would it be to turn a undrafted free agent QB into some future draft picks. If Reid can pull things like that I very much look forward to the Reid/Dorsey Machine!

          • Nick

            What do you guys think the likelihood of dropping Daniels is? Have not heard much talk of that but he is making around 3 mil this year. That money could be used.

          • Ben Nielsen

            All hinges on how Bray has developed.

          • Nick

            Yeah, I’d love to see that money go to Houston though.

        • berttheclock

          Perhaps, he needs a fire direction team. His aiming circle crew may be a bit off.

        • berttheclock

          Sort of reminds me of watching a young West Pointer walking eight inch shells off range at Grafenwohr. He kept over correcting to his left. Fortunately, we had an Andy Reid type Major who stopped him.

        • berttheclock

          Vince Ferragamo out of Nebraska had one of the greatest cannons in fhe NFL and led the Rams to meet the Steelers in the Super Bowl and came close to winning that game. However, the very next year, the Cowboys DC found a way to stop his long ball and when,he had to change up, he kept being intercepted and soon left the NFL.

      • berttheclock

        I believe had Bray been on the Fast Track, Murray would have not been drafted. Murrays selection spoke volumes about the direction Dorsey and Reid believed the Cniefs needed to head. Speaking of using that military usage for young officers of Fast Tracking, another one to use for Bray is Up or Out. I saw a great deal of RIFTs and Up or Out was just starting. Bray may fall victim to that.

    • Lyle Graversen

      While I’m not in favor of giving Smith a contract in excess of 100 million, I don’t think you can factor Murray into the decision at all. The guy is a 5th round pick. While I like him, I seem to remember a lot of people being excited about Ricky Stanzi when we took him in the 5th round and thought he would be the heir to Cassel. Look how that turned out. While I fee MUCH better about developing QBs with Andy Reid in charge, basing your decision on your starting QB off the fact that you drafted a guy in the 5th round is crazy.

      If they decide not to sign Smith now, they have to do so with the understanding that next year they may have to pay him an even bigger contract than he want now, commit almost 20 million in cap space to him under the franchise tag, or let him walk and gamble the success of an entire team on an unknown quality at the most important position on the field.

      I’ve been predicting a 5 year, 80 million, 35 guaranteed contract for months now. I’m starting to think that’s not going to do it. It may take 6 years, 100 million, 45 million guaranteed. The Chiefs could still structure it where the guaranteed money would be done after year three so they could move on at that point. Also, a lot of contracts are starting to have multiple clauses written in. It could be that KC signs him to a massive deal but there is a clause where they can walk away and pay nothing after the first year. Go read some of the rumored clauses in the Kaepernick deal at PFT. While Kaep got PAID, it looks like SF may have done a nice job of protecting themselves.

      • Ben Nielsen

        I’m not against a $100 million deal for Smith if it comes with an eject button like Kaepernick’s deal.

        • [email protected]

          I agree whole heartedly. That would be a great contract when you look at the actual guarantees and what it would cost the next 2-3 years.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Were I Dorsey, my final offer would be 6 years, $100m/$40m guaranteed.

        Murray’s doesn’t factor into the extension scenario, but he would factor into whether or not I slap the tag on Smith the following year. Tagging him to tag him is pointless in my humble opinion. You’re just renting the guy. You aren’t actually gaining ground in negotiations. Smith and the market will only make a stronger case for the kind of contract we’re unwilling to pay, with time.

        Murray was a 5th Round pick, but he’s not an R5 talent. Had he been healthy, he goes in one of the top two rounds of the draft. He’s a much better prospect than Stanzi was. There was hope that he could be the guy, but I don’t recall anyone (locally or nationally) having as strong a feeling about him as they do Murray. It’ll still be a major gamble to turn the team over to him after just a year to learn the ropes, but it’s not quite as unreasonable as it would be if he were truly a fifth round talent.

        If Murray’s ready after 2014 (I don’t expect him to be), that would end any thought of my placing the tag on Alex Smith. A full year will have passed by that time. If he’s not under a new deal by the turn of the league year it won’t be us favoring Murray over Smith. It’ll be mitigating the damage of a quarterback you already know you aren’t going to re-sign.

        There are other expiring contracts to consider. Can we afford to dole out $17 million for one year to a quarterback we still won’t have rights to come 2016?

        • berttheclock

          The franchise tag for a QB really wrecks your cap for that year.

        • Stan

          It’s funny not too many GM’s thought that way.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            I’m not sure which point you’re addressing.

      • berttheclock

        Lyle,forgive me, but, who in hell except Scott Pioli, the Iowa HC and Mel Kiper, Jr were excited about Rick Stanzi? Lest you forget, that was the infamous fifth round where Pioli went into a permanent sleep mode and left Denarius Moore and Richard Sherman on the draft board. Of course, only Pioli knew how great Gabe Miller and Stanzi would become.

        BTW, Phil Emory who worked for Pioli at the time has commissioned a Blue Ribbon Research team which has published their nonsense about no GM should ever consider a QB past the 5th round. Aaron Murray is, my non humble opinion, an exception to this new Emory rule. He fell for legitimate reasons. His ACL threw panic into otherwise sensible GMs. He is a gift and an outright steal.

    • [email protected]

      To me we would be crazy to not lock him up. I am sure there are people that disagree, but I think he will become dominant with Reids offense. Give the guy the money that he should get and move on. Regardless of what people may think, the QB is the most important person on the team, bar none. JMO

      • Stacy D. Smith

        If his contract demands are reasonable, I’d have to agree. It would waste two R2 picks, squander a closing window of opportunity with a talented core group of veterans, and make it tough for us to re-sign ascending, young players with expiring contracts.

    • thabear04

      What if Muray get hurt during pre season and take a blow to his knee again? They said Bray looking good at OTA will see if Bray vs Murray during training camp who will have the upper hand.

  • unclejesse40

    I would be interested to know what the records of teams are after they sign their “Star” QB’s to long contracts. It seems to me that when guys like Wilson and Kaepernick are on their rookie contracts and the teams have a ton of money to spread around to other important pieces on both sides of the ball, the team does well. But what is the history of team records after mega QB deals? I may be totally off base with this idea but having played the game, one guy can greatly affect a team but one guy does not make a team. Well only a couple of QB’s make a team, Brady, Manning, and Rodgers are the three that come to mind. sorry Alex, I like you a lot but you don’t fall within that group.

    • Ben Nielsen

      I think the biggest thing with those mega deals is that it reduces the room for error. You can’t have bad draft classes, bad big free agent signings, ect. You’ve either have to have the Brady, Manning, Brees, Rodgers or have really consistent player development so you can get away with spending less in other areas.

      • unclejesse40

        Wow, how did I forget Brees on that list!

        • Ben Nielsen

          No worries, I’m hear to pick you up. :)

  • area

    Fans of the Chiefs should hope that a decent player/franchise contract is agreed upon by both AS11′s camp and KC’s fo, this year, not after the season and definitely not after franchising AS11 next year. Alex Smith is a cerebral football player. He understands that he has to have a team friendly contract that allows the organization to keep certain core players. I have very little doubt that Smith will not allow himself to Flaco or Cutler the Chiefs the way that those two qb’s sunk their current teams with horrible contracts.

    Signing a team friendly contract, this year, allows Smith to concentrate on football with a team that he has the best chemistry he has experienced with as an offense yet..that’s important to qbs, have no doubt. Players say they do not pay attention to contract talks-but that’s bull-malarchy- of course they do, it’s their livelihood. Rookies learn better by being shown and tutored, not by being baptized by fire. Smith being around for a few years and teaching, trumps Murray or Bray being beaten out by Daniel in training camp and STILL riding the pine.

    Signing Smith to an extension after the 2014 season puts too many unknowns on the table: Did Smith have an all-pro year and his pay scale go up? Is Smith going to hold out and tie up resources needed to sign other free agents causing another key player to sign elsewhere? How about, could the Chiefs get into a bidding war with another team for Smith’s talents, lose Smith, and neither Murray/Bray are ready to start yet?

    Franchising Smith next year simply pays Smith next year what we should have already been paying him under contract. The franchise tag is also used up- with multiple core players becoming F.A.s in 2015 the Chief’s need as much ammunition as possible for retention, not less.

  • Adrian Meli

    Hadn’t realized Alex Smith has made so much thus far-it does seem like time is on his side as long as he stays healthy. I like his odds of getting a big offer.

  • Calchiefsfan

    Smith does hold most of the cards except one, what if he gets a serious injury this year? That could mean no money next year. That’s the one thing that players don’t like about the franchise tag, no future guarantees. The other assumption that Brandt makes is that Reid and Dorsey might not believe Smith is the franchise QB. Hogwash. They wouldn’t have paid 2 second round picks for him if that were the case. They will probably get this deal done even if they have to pay through the nose for Smith. They’re just trying to negotiate a more favorable deal.
    As much as I like Murray, both he and Bray are long shots to develop into franchise QBs. That’s just reality and everybody involved in these negotiations knows it.

    • Andy

      Can’t discount an injury. Also in the chiefs favor is, Smith likes it here, finally feels like he has a home and I can’t see him wanting to learn another offense
      Condon is a jerk of an agent. He will look good if Smith doesn’t get hurt.. if he plays hard ball like he always does, he better hope Smith doesn’t get hurt.

  • Joe Myers

    I’m not being to optimistic when I say this but I think they have something in aj Jenkins he might have came along finally and if this hold true the chiefs could be a hole different monster this year ! (Deap breath) . One thing is true thier looking to make thier move soon !!!. Arrowhead aaddict should write a pice about the afc and nfc tuffest divison . Really is the afc west and nfc west this is going to be a interesting year of football in that aspect !!!

  • Andy

    I like Smith a lot. A perfect fit for Reid’s offense. But if things don’t workout, I trust Reid grooming our next qb.
    Here is another issue, why pay Smith double his salary this year? Worst case, we have Smith for two years at 24 Milton and Murray is ready year three.

  • A1 Yola

    Kap is a physical specimen. Big, tall, with a strong arm. Him and AS11 don’t compare too well.

  • michael mckee

    Nobody is gonna enter into a bidding war for alex smith….get real