Will the Chiefs go into 2017 with Alex Smith and the great unknown?

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 01: Quarterback Tyler Bray
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 01: Quarterback Tyler Bray /
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KANSAS CITY, MO – SEPTEMBER 01: Quarterback Tyler Bray
KANSAS CITY, MO – SEPTEMBER 01: Quarterback Tyler Bray /

Will John Dorsey really keep the roster free of any veteran back-ups behind Alex Smith in 2017, with only a rookie safety net?

Don’t be fooled. The Kansas City Chiefs were in this place last year, too.

In 2016, Alex Smith was entrenched as the starter. Once the dust on free agency had settled and the NFL Draft classes were wrapped up and instantly graded, the depth chart after him was a complete unknown. It seemed like we might actually find out what sort of talent the Chiefs had on the depth chart after Smith, what the future at quarterback might resemble.

Tyler Bray was the mainstay, a veteran who had somehow never thrown an NFL pass signed as an undrafted free agent. One year later, general manager John Dorsey added Aaron Murray in the fifth round, a Georgia product with plenty of starting experience in the SEC. In 2016, those two met with another fifth round pick out of Stanford in Kevin Hogan. Two spots for three men. The competition was on.

Fast forward to the NFL preseason and something unexpected happened: John Dorsey hit the panic button. There’s no other way to say it, really, and I’m not insinuating it was the wrong move. The one position you can ill afford to get wrong is quarterback, so if Dorsey felt uncomfortable knowing one of those three was only a play away from starting, he did the right thing. Still, it was shocking.

Dorsey, if you’ll remember, ended up signing Nick Foles to a two-year (but really one-year) contract with a crazy amount due in the second season that all but guaranteed that Foles would walk after a single season. Suddenly there was only one chair for the aforementioned trio. And the trio would soon become one without much fanfare.

In retrospect, it looks like the right call. Foles looked sharp in relief of Smith and even won his only start. He did exactly what you want your back-up quarterback to do. Kudos to Dorsey. But somehow, alongside the acclaim, Dorsey also deserves a furrowed brow, a questionable glare wondering why the Chiefs are somehow in the exact same position this season: without any idea what they really have behind Smith.

Hogan was sent packing in early September. The same day, Murray was given his walking papers. The Cleveland Browns signed Hogan to their practice squad and the Arizona Cardinals did the same for Murray within 24 hours. Suddenly two draft-and-develop assets were the property of other teams, including a recently drafted fifth rounder. Hogan barely had time to get to know his teammates, let alone for a coaching staff to have a chance to work with him.

Bray remained in house, where he still sits to this day, yet Dorsey and company know as much about Bray’s on-field abilities as they did last year. Or the year before. Or the year before. Or even the year before. Yes, he’s been here that long.