Here’s the main points Brandt makes in his argument about the negotiations between Smith and KC. Tom Condon, who one of the best agents in all of sports, is a guy who will call his terms and then sit on it without budging. Either you give Condon what he asks for or you do not get the player. Pretty simple. Brandt says he knows this based on his personal experiences dealing with Condon in contract negotiations.
Brandt argues Condon has probably put together a very good argument for why Smith should be lumped together in the same tier of players as Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, and Joe Flacco. The total value of those contracts range from $108 million to $126 million with guarantees ranging hovering around $40 million. Noting the market, the Chiefs situation, and what quarterbacks of Smith caliber got on the open market, there is reason to think Smith could flirt with a contract near $50 million in guaranteed money.
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Remember, Smith was a free agent the same year Peyton Manning was a free agent. While San Francisco was making their run at Manning, Smith nearly signed with the Miami Dolphins. Last year when the Chiefs worked out their deal for Smith, Arizona and New York Jets were said to have had offers in on Smith. Should Smith hit the open market next March, he would be the best available quarterback to hit free agency since Manning. Good quarterbacks rarely ever hit the free agent market, let alone in their prime. Miami, Arizona, and the Jets could all very much be interested in Smith, as could a team like the Houston Texans.
Then there is what Smith has done the last three seasons on the field. As dumb as the “quarterback wins stat” is in an argument about the quality of a quarterback, it is going to play well in his favor in contract negotiations. Smith was excellent last year on a team with little to no passing weapons and with a roster that was just coming off a two-win season.
All of the cards are in Smith’s hands.
John Dorsey and Andy Reid have been very clear that they love Alex Smith and they want him to say. They have yet to say a single negative thing about Smith since he set foot in Kansas City. There is absolutely no doubt Smith is their guy and the quarterback they want running their offense. But it is obviously they do not agree with the numbers Condon is throw out. Is it $126 million? Who knows. The numbers are clearly higher than what the Chiefs are willing to pay, otherwise this post would be about all of the things one could buy with a budget of $100-plus million.
An $75-85 million deal with $30 million guaranteed seems way more than a fair deal for Alex, but it is clear, based on his history, that Condon is going to settle on a compromise.
The question for Smith now becomes this: Does Alex wait until March to cash in or does he risk leaving $30 million in guaranteed money on the table and play the season out?
The other option is the possibility the Chiefs could use the franchise tag on Smith next Spring. This works out in terms of keeping him for another year, but the Chiefs will take a $17 million cap hit in order to keep him on the roster. That could prove to be a large blow to the Chiefs chances of keeping Justin Houston, even if they do cut Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali. Keep in mind also that Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson and Jamaal Charles will be entering the final year of their deals in 2015, and Rodney Hudson will be a free agent after the 2014 season.
It would stand to reason that if the Chiefs cannot get a contract done with Smith then it would makes sense for them to tag and trade Smith next offseason. At least that way the Chiefs could recover some of the picks they gave up to acquire Smith. The likelihood of that actually happening seems low at this point.
As Brandt says, I don’t know what the Chiefs are going to do.