In case you were too drunk yesterday to pay attention to the internet, the Kansas City Chiefs signed Alex Smith to a four-year, $68 million extension that will guarantee him up to $45 million. The official breakdown of the contract has not been uncovered so it is unknown how all of the money is going to be spread out. Until then, we have the NFL Network to propose questions such as this one:
(Note: One day the NFL is going to learn that allowing others to embed their videos is a good thing. Until then click the link to watch the discussion.)
How one decides a player is underrated is completely subjective, so it is difficult to answer this question without having some sort of an agreed upon basis for thinking about Alex Smith. What I am comfortable in saying is Alex Smith may be the most miscast quarterback in the NFL.
Since 2011 Smith is in the top 10 in the NFL in completion percentage, quarterback rating, adjusted yards gained per attempt, and fewest interceptions. His 92.5 quarterback rating since 2011 is significantly higher than Matt Stafford, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Andrew Luck, and Joe Flacco.
The impression with Smith is he is a game manager who cannot throw down field or elevate the level of play for his team because he has inferior physical skills. This is said even after watching him become the first quarterback ever throw four touchdowns and zero interceptions in a playoff game and lose, and accomplishing this without the league’s best running back. And this is also said even after watching Smith take a roster that was 2-14 in the previous season and added zero offensive weapons to the playoffs and 11 wins.
It is incredible the narrative that surrounds Smith even if he does something on a national stage to show the fallacy of the narrative.
No, Smith is not an elite quarterback nor will he be entering the Hall of Fame when his career is over. He’ll never be Payton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady. And, no, he won’t be the kind of quarterback who can launch a ball 80 yards downfield from his knees. None of that is going to happen.
But there is little to suggest he doesn’t have the physical tools to be a very quality quarterback in the NFL. We know this because he has proven it for the last three years. At some point we will be able to identify Smith by who he truly is as a quarterback. When we finally get to that stage then we can actually have a debate about if he’s truly underrated or not.