Alex Smith’s 2017 season with the Chiefs will be his last with organization regardless of how the season plays out.
As the halfway point of the 2017 season approaches, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith continues his run at destroying any and all career numbers as well as shattering the long-held narrative about what his abilities and ceiling truly are. And, at least for Smith, it’s better late then never, as he’ll be moving on to a new organization next season.
It all starts, as it always does in the National Football League, with the salary cap. At this moment in time, the Chiefs currently stand with the second least cap room in the league, already over the 2018 salary cap, just shy of a million dollars over the projected 2018 cap. Smith is currently scheduled to count $20.6 million against next year’s cap. However, should the Chiefs decide to trade Smith after this season, they can save a significant $17 million towards 2018. With a number of current players seeing their contracts expire after this season, the Chiefs will need to find money, and a lot of it, if they are hoping to be competitive, let alone contend, next season.
Next, Patrick Mahomes. After spending valuable 2017 and 2018 draft assets to move up in the draft to acquire the Texas Tech quarterback, it’s hard to imagine the team not turning the reins over to the heir apparent in 2018. Due to count just over $3.7 million against the cap next season, the savings are significant. The offense, to a degree, has been changed already to fit more what Mahomes does well. It’s not as if Smith simply chose not to throw deep in years past; it’s that often times, the routes were not called. (Having speedster Tyreek Hill does help.) After spending and investing what the Chiefs have in Mahomes, next season will be the sophomore’s season.
Positional need across the league will also play a role, both in helping the Chiefs decide to move Smith, as well as for Smith himself, knowing he can get paid well on a deal with a team needing a veteran signal caller. Below is a list of teams that, at least in this writer’s opinion, could be looking for a new quarterback after this season:
- Arizona Cardinals
- Buffalo Bills
- Denver Broncos
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Miami Dolphins
- Minnesota Vikings
- New Orleans Saints
- New York Jets
- San Francisco 49ers
- Washington Redskins
- L.A. Chargers (if Philip Rivers retires)
- New York Giants (if Eli Manning retires)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (if Ben Roethlisberger retires)
Teams like Arizona, Jacksonville, and Washington have teams that, for the most part, are ready to go with solid rosters. Others could be looking for a veteran to help guide a younger player until he’s ready to go (what’s K.C. is doing). Obviously San Francisco is not a likely destination for Smith for a variety of reasons. These teams, with a draft class that looks worse and worse by the week, may be more inclined to trade for Smith as a temporary solution. With the desperation at the position league-wide, it’s hard to imagine the Chiefs not being able to land a package at least equal to what they ‘paid’ to acquire Smith from San Francisco in 2013.
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Mike Glennon signed a 3-year deal worth $45 million dollars with $18M in guarantees from the Chicago Bears. Jay Cutler came out of retirement to sign with the Dolphins for 1 year worth $10 million dollars. Josh McCown received $6 million to play the 2017 season for the Jets. This leads me to the next point: if Smith hits the market this offseason, he will get paid well. Smith is due to receive $17 million next season in cash—prorated signing bonus raises his cap number to the over 20 number looked at earlier.
Smith and Tom Condon his agent are well aware of the mega dollars being thrown around and know they can get one last pay day before Smith calls it a career. For fans thinking Smith will take a huge discount next season for the sake of staying in Kansas City, that’s just not how this works. He will want a multi-year commitment or will ask to be released/traded.
Kansas City has traded away picks in a big way, something rare for the organization. They traded a 1st for Mahomes, a fifth round choice for Cameron Erving as well as a 2019 pick (4th) for linebacker Reggie Ragland. Moving Smith this offseason in a trade can add much needed draft assets to greatly aid in replacing those lost assets to improve positions across the team. As we’ve seen recently, there isn’t a level of the defense that couldn’t use some help.
Teams often win Super Bowls while their quarterbacks are not super expensive. The Patriots did with Tom Brady, the Steelers with Roethlisberger, the Seahawks with Russ Wilson to show just a few recent examples. The Chiefs made the move to get their quarterback a year before they needed to make a move, and did so in a big way. With players, both starters and backups due to have contracts expiring, this offseason is the time to make the move on Smith.