It’s clear that Kansas City Chiefs players believe that transitioning away from Alex Smith isn’t as easy as fans make it out to be given their love for their quarterback.
Of course, Mitchell Schwartz is biased. Of course, the Kansas City Chiefs right tackle is going to stand up for his teammate. But even with that aside, Schwartz sounds like a man with true convictions when he describes Alex Smith as the best in the National Football League this year.
Schwartz recently sat down to speak with Robert Klemko of Monday Morning Quarterback about the Chiefs tough playoff loss, the growth of Patrick Mahomes and the potential exit of Alex Smith. It’s clear that Schwartz believes that could be a big mistake:
"“I think he was the best quarterback in the NFL this year, and the numbers bear that out. He put up some crazy statistics, and he was by far the best deep-ball thrower in the NFL this year. So it’s been a blast. He’s the guy that makes us go … He’s awesome, I can’t say enough good about him.”"
When asked specifically about if the team was forced to move on, Schwartz had even more emphasis on how he feels it would be a big loss.
"I think in a general sense he’s under-appreciated. We really understand in our locker room how valuable he is to our offense, relative to other quarterbacks in the NFL. If that were the case and Alex is out, we’d understand what we’re losing. We know that Alex is really the driving force that makes the offense go. If it happens, it happens, but I think we all love playing with him."
It’s interesting to hear Schwartz because those farthest from the locker room are quick to discard Smith as “average” or as the issue himself, as if he is the one responsible for failing to make the leap in the playoffs.
Despite Schwartz’s’ feelings (and other teammates like him), it’s quite clear that the Chiefs seem on the way to a quarterback transition. There’s simply too much about a move to Patrick Mahomes that makes sense. Fans are overly excited to see the second-year phenom get a chance to start, and Mahomes himself has played the part perfectly as he’s waited for his chance.
In addition, Smith’s career-year also sets up the Chiefs to gain something decent in return on the trade market while alleviating some serious salary cap pressure by having a rookie quarterback on the books in a starting role. From finances to Mahomes’ readiness to trade return, moving on from Alex Smith is the plan laid out on paper—even if it means saying goodbye to such a valuable player.