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Chiefs Should Focus On Re-Signing Houston, Not Smith

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QB 1 = Bears QB Jay Cutler

QB 2 = Alex Smith

QB 3 = Cowboys QB Tony Romo.

Again, I’m not sure how you would have ranked these guys, and maybe you still would have Smith at the bottom not knowing which he was. That’s fine. What I do think is beyond dispute here is that Smith belongs in the same value conversation as Cutler and Romo.

Before the 2013 season, Romo signed a 6-year, $108 million contract with $40 million guaranteed. Although his cap hit in 2013 and 2014 is just below $12 million per year, his salary will jump to $27.7 million in 2015.

Meanwhile, Cutler just signed a 7-year contract worth $126.7 million with $54 million guaranteed. His cap hit this year is $18.5 million but drops to $16.5 million next year.

Like it or not, these two contracts set the market for Alex Smith, and his agent can easily make the case that he deserves more.

January 24, 2014; Ko

The problem is that the Chiefs are strapped for cash and also need to re-sign OLB Justin Houston — who is possibly the most valuable player on the team in terms of youth and talent — or watch him walk in free agency at the end of this year.

So, although I just spent 500 words explaining why I think Smith deserves a generous extension, I think the Chiefs should be working on Houston’s contract first.

Here’s why: Although the Chiefs run the risk of losing one of these guys to free agency next year, the team won’t be forced to lose both because it can always put the franchise tag on one of them.

With that in mind, the Chiefs need to try and settle up whichever negotiation is going to be easier and franchise the other guy.

I think Houston’s contract will be easier to talk through for a few simple reasons: 1.) It’ll be cheaper 2.) There’s less controversy about his value and 3.) He’s making pennies this season anyway, so any money he makes as a part of an extension signed before the start of the season will be instant profit.

Think about this, Houston is currently only going to make $900,000 in 2014. God forbid, knock on wood (you do it too!), he gets seriously injured this year, he might never see that big pay day and just receive those 3rd-round-pick game checks for this season. He battled injury last year, so from his standpoint, he gains a lot of financial security by signing on the dotted line before the opening kickoff.

Also, while he is most certainly due a mega contract, it’s still going to be significantly smaller than what you pay a high-level QB. We’re talking more in the $10 million per year range, rather than the high teens.

Lastly, the franchise tag number for linebackers for 2014 is $11.455 million. It likely won’t be much more than that in 2015, and because he is a top guy, that’s close to what the Chiefs are going to be paying him annually anyway. In other words, the team gets no real savings from tagging him.

The franchise tag number for QB’s on the other hand is $16.912 million this year. Assuming that stays more or less the same, the Chiefs will probably save some money by slapping the tag on Smith that year rather than giving him the contract he wants.

Meanwhile, for you Smith-haters and Murray-lovers out there, this scenario also gives the Chiefs the option of keeping Smith around for another year and giving Murray two full years to develop leading up to a possible handing-over-of-the-reins to him.

To me, this path makes the most overall sense. What say you Addicts?