How Big Is The Financial Gap Between Alex Smith And The Chiefs?


Need another Alex Smith post? Well here you go. I promise this will be the last non-update post I’ll write about Smith and his contract demands until there is something useful to say. A vague promise, yes, but a promise none the less.

The purpose of this post is to discuss something Doug Farrar wrote for Sports Illustrated’s Audibles blog. The question posed and attempted to be answered was what exactly is a fair contract for Alex Smith? This is a question that needs to be answered so we may better understand the potential gap between John Dorsey and Tom Condon in negotiations.

Farrar lays out an analysis based on advanced statistics of where Smith ranks in comparison to other quarterbacks. He evaluated the dated from Pro Football focus and highlighted the good and the bad of Smith’s game. Here’s the simple conclusion of what he found:

"When the bullets are flying, so to speak, Smith is a drive extender. He’s smart, he understands his limitations, and he doesn’t make an abnormal number of mistakes. And that’s all good, but it doesn’t put him in a higher stratosphere."

Void of bias and emotion, Farrar describes the Chiefs situation as such:

"They may see Smith as their franchise quarterback of the future, but it’s just as possible that Smith is seen by Reid and Dorsey as a stopgap until they can draft the guy they want in that chair for the next half-decade. If the latter is the case (and that would be in line with Smith’s career accomplishments), a deal somewhere between Matt Flynn’s, and the onerous contracts given to Kevin Kolb and Ryan Fitzpatrick, would be fair."

Here are the contracts of those three quarterbacks:

Kolb: 6-years, $63 million

Fitzpatrick: six-years, $59 million

Flynn: three-years, $26 million

Flynn’s contract seems far too low for Smith, who is a significantly better quarterback than Flynn has ever been. Smith is also a better quarterback than Kolb or Fitzpatrick but both were highly overpaid when they were given their deals.

Considering Smith’s ability and increased cost for quarterbacks it would be fair to say Smith’s value is somewhere around $70-80 million over six years. Structure the contract appropriately, and the Chiefs could part ways with Smith if a young quarterback – such as Aaron Murray – developed into a franchise caliber quarterback. This falls in line with Lyle Graversen’s evaluation.

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Let’s take Graversen’s contract idea – $80 million ($35 million guaranteed) over five years – and say this is the Chiefs offer.

What we are being told through reports now is Smith (read: Tom Condon) is looking for Smith to get paid like Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler, and Tony Romo. All three of those quarterbacks signed deals within the last year, and in one way or another it could be argued Smith is as valuable as or nearly as valuable as all three of those players. Let’s take a look at all four of those deals.

Ryan: five years, $103.75 million ($42 million)

Flacco: six years, $120.6 million ($29 million)

Cutler: seven years, $126.7 million ($38 million)

Romo: six years, $108 million ($40 million)

Let’s look at this from an average stand point, and say Condon is asking for somewhere around $115 million with about $35 million guaranteed. This would put the Chiefs in the right ballpark in terms of guaranteed money but a whopping $35 million off in total value. That’s a lot of money.

One could see how the “not in the neighborhood” type reports could come from looking at it from this perspective. A difference of $35 million is not a small one, and one that could cause Dorsey some anxiety.

However, the two sides wouldn’t be quite as far apart as one would think. What matters most in any football player’s contract is guaranteed money. If the Chiefs are in the ballpark of $35 million guaranteed and Condon is somewhere in the ballpark of $35 million then this would be a positive sign. KC and Condon would basically be in agreement in principle to the most of the backbone of the deal.

The signs from Andy Reid and Dorsey would seem to indicate this is probably close to the truth. Why else come out in the media and say there is confidence a deal could get done? Same goes for Alex, who also indicated he thought a deal would get done.

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  • Why set yourself up and say there is confidence a deal will get done when you know a deal is virtually out of the question?

    And those comments about having not talked? We’re just coming out of the draft and free agency. There hasn’t been a lot of time to get extensions of this nature done. There was Twitter speculation Dorsey and his staff had dinner with Condon at the Senior Bowl in February so it would make sense if the Chiefs haven’t talked with Condon since then.

    Warning, even more speculation than what has already been made is about to follow.

    One would think that based on the reports that are out there, Smith’s presence and comments at OTAs, and looking at the financial situation of other quarterbacks and Smith’s value, it would seem fair to think the Chiefs are closer to signing Smith to an extension than losing him.

    There seems to be a basic understanding of enough important core issues that the Chiefs are willing to publicly say they can get a deal done with Smith. There are some questions left to be answered and both sides are posturing – “There’s been virtually no communication of late” and “We’re willing to use the franchise tag if necessary.” Don’t be stunned to find out by mid-June and in training camp that the Chiefs are incredibly impressed with Aaron Murray’s grasp of the offense and how quickly he’s developing.

    A contract extension probably isn’t coming any time in the immediate future but one can come to some conclusions the gap between the Chiefs and Smith’s camp isn’t quite as big as some reports have led us to believe.

    And if you don’t believe me, believe Smith’s wife, Elizabeth.