Mar 13, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey (right), quarterback Alex Smith (center), and head coach Andy Reid pose for photos during the press conference at The University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Hold Up: Alex Smith Or John Dorsey?

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Did my headline confuse you? I’m sure it’s an odd question, but it occurred to me about eight days ago (when Andy Dalton signed a contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals). The negotiations with the Kansas City Chiefs’ starting quarterback have been ongoing for months now. Why haven’t the two sides been able to meet in the middle and get the deal done? Is it really Alex Smith’s outrageous demands or might it be something else? Quite a few are convinced that Smith’s the contract culprit, but for at least one hour of lucidity (or perhaps insanity) last week, another plausible option occurred to me.

What if the hang up isn’t between the Smith and the Chiefs? What if the two parties at odds are general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid? Reid’s been enamored with Alex Smith since his playing days at the University of Utah. There’s no question in my mind that Reid wants him here for the foreseeable future, but I’m not so sure John Dorsey feels the same way about him. That’s not to say that Reid wants him here and Dorsey doesn’t. The question is, do the GM and the head coach have the same idea about what they have in Alex Smith?

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I think it’s safe to say that Reid sees Smith as the long-term solution here in Kansas City. Smith just turned 30 in May so he could conceivably continue to play at a high level for the next five years. Is it possible that Dorsey, on the other hand, only views Smith as a stopgap? Could he simply be biding his time with the 10-year veteran until he can identify a younger quarterback with more upside and shelf life? Those two questions are central to the negotiations and ultimately make all the difference in the world to the kind of offer they’ll slide across the table.

It’s been reported that Smith doesn’t want an Andy Dalton type deal. In a recent interview with USA TODAY Sports Smith said, “I want to get something that’s right that I’m going to play out, absolutely, and that’s definitely a focus of mine.” Clearly, he wants a stable opportunity that will see him into the twilight of his NFL career. Supposing for a moment that Reid and Dorsey do want him here for the next several years, I think that’s the kind of contract we’d see him sign. If, however, there is a difference of opinion between the two, a Dalton-esque deal makes more sense. While it might not affect the total years or value of the deal, but it’ll certainly have an impact on how the contract is structured.

I realize it’s a bit controversial to suggest that Dorsey and Reid could be so divided over such an important aspect of this young regime, but I don’t think it’s far-fetched. It wasn’t long ago that a front office split over the starting quarterback was a reality in Kansas City. Then-general manager Scott Pioli and former head coach Todd Haley weren’t exactly living in perfect harmony over Matt Cassel. That American Horror Story ended in Tyler Palko taking real NFL snaps (cue the Wilhelm scream).

Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) during the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Were I John Dorsey, I might have some trepidation about pulling the trigger on a long-term deal. If he’s not sold on Smith, he’s essentially staking his Chiefs tenure on him. Remember, the new order has Reid and Dorsey answering to Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt separately. Second chances in the NFL can be tough to come by. I don’t know that I’d gamble my executive future on a quarterback I wasn’t confident could get my franchise over the hump.

Let’s say the Chiefs relent and give him the kind of extension he wants. If the Alex Smith Experiment later fails to pay postseason dividends, who’ll eventually fall on the sword? Will it be the head coach who’s been ogling him since the turn of the century or the GM who traded away two R2 picks and gave him a sizable extension? That’s a tough question to answer and may be the reason why this chapter hasn’t been closed yet. We may eventually have a better idea of where the two stand on Smith, but speculation’s always fun this time of the year.

Here’s your chance to weigh in on the topic. Use the comment section below to begin the debate. I expect nothing less than a virtual grudge match (as conversations about Alex Smith tend to be here at AA). As always, we appreciate your readership and support.

Until next time, Addicts!

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