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
First, the cap savings on the back end of Smith’s contract. Remember, the only guaranteed money left on the Smith contract past the 2016 season are the prorated numbers of the signing bonus. Kansas City saves almost $10 million against the cap ($9.7M) and a staggering $17 million should they move on from Smith prior to the 2018 season. Those are really nice numbers, and while a team shouldn’t make decisions simply based on what a future cap number or cap savings could be, they can’t be ignored. While this isn’t the most important part of the argument, it helps set up future points.
If this columnist can see the set up of the Smith contract, you can be sure Smith and his agent, Tom Condon, are well aware. Certainly the restructuring of a contract will include moving money, guaranteed, to the back end of the contract. The questions becomes how much is guaranteed and how is it paid out.
Many times in situations like this we see players transfer salary money to singing bonuses, or there is a transfer to salary money in one season to the form of salary guarantees in future seasons. Does it make sense to move money out of a contract like that in the current landscape? Is it smart to push guaranteed money down the road? This columnist doesn’t think so. As Chiefs fans, we’ve seen what can happen when teams continue to push money to the future without really much thought, only to be crushed by a massive debt, forcing a roster purge.
Also, while certainly not old, Smith is no longer a young pup. Our quarterback just turned 31 years old, and if we do math correctly, will be 32 during the 2016 season. This is important to note because we are discussing the 2017 and 2018 season. When Smith will be 33 and 34 respectively. Unless your name is Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, most quarterbacks see their skills diminish once they get into their 30’s. We’ve seen the arm strength for Manning start to decline, and the Patriots made the move to two tight ends, allowing Brady and the Patriots offense to open the field width wise, requiring fewer down-the-field throws, keeping the arm fresh. Is it a good idea to guarantee money to someone who will be on the downside of their career?
Lastly, guaranteeing money, re-working a contract ensures Kansas City doesn’t work on finding a future quarterback, and simply from a selfish standpoint, this columnist would like to see the Chiefs make a concentrated and actual effort to find a franchise quarterback. It really has nothing to do with the points above with the exception that the longer the franchise goes with an aging quarterback, the greater the opportunity you run out damaged goods at the quarterback position.
Smith’s contract, with each passing extension, continues to be a better and better deal for the Chiefs, especially long-term. The greatest bargain is the ability for the organization to find a new quarterback, and start a new phrase quickly. However, if money, especially guaranteed money is pushed backwards on the contract, the deal isn’t quite the deal. We certainly hope Justin Houston gets done, but re-working the Smith contract isn’t the way to accomplish that goal.