Alex Smith: Will 2015 be a referendum on the Chiefs quarterback?

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Dec 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) signals on the line of scrimmage during the first half against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Unless smith turns out to be very obviously a great detriment to the team, then I think the answer is no.

For starters, we the fans do not dictate personnel policy. Even though Smith has never shown an ability to be elite, and there are a number of fans who dislike him as a quarterback, the front office of One Arrowhead Drive saw fit to give him a four-year contract worth $68 million just last year. If they are were willing to shell out that kind of money (as stated before, making him the biggest cap hit on the team), then they likely believe he has the ability produce the results they want.

Yes, the deal was reached right before the beginning of last season, and the decision makers had not seen how lethargic the offense looked during most of 2014. But the front office had seen the entirety of Smith’s 2013 campaign as a Chief. And if you look at his numbers on, Smith’s 2013 and 2014 were very similar. Which means that if Dorsey and company were willing to pay Smith based on his 2013 performance, they are unlikely to put him on thin ice over his 2014 season.

Further, even if the front office did feel like Smith was the crux of the offense’s woes, there is the issue of how much it would cost KC to part ways with him. Per Spotrac, Smith’s contract has a total of $45 million in guaranteed money, and only $4.6 million has already been paid. Meaning the Chiefs owe Smith another $40+ million over the course of his contract.

I’m not an expert at how the NFL calculates is salary cap. However, I do know that if Kansas City  is obligated to pay him that much in guaranteed money, then the cap implications are likely to be pretty substantial in the short run. And if you look at Spotrac’s numbers again, you will see that is the case.

If the Chiefs cut Smith today, they would have $40.4 million in dead cap space. That number only shrinks to $24.9 million by waiting until 2016. And it only drops to $17.7 million if Kansas City waits until after June 1, 2016. For perspective, that is almost exactly twice as much dead cap space as Dwayne Bowe’s contract, which is currently the largest single source of dead cap money the Chiefs have per Over The Cap.

Even if management changed their minds and decided that Smith does not deserve to be the starter anymore, they are still obligated to pay him so much money over the next couple of seasons that cutting him would cost enough as to potentially hamper the ability to field a competitive roster across the board.

So even assuming that the rest of the offense is in championship form throughout the year, I find it hard to imagine that Smith could play himself out of a job in the next season. Between the amount the Chiefs already owe him, and the fact that his current contract is based on similar numbers, the idea that 2015 will serve as a referendum on Alex Smith (outside the mind of some fans) just does not make sense.

What do you think, Addicts? Could this be Smith’s last year in Kansas City?