Alex Smith is not the answer.
I’m sorry, he’s just not.
Smith gives you hope. He instills a belief in you that your team has a chance to win. And, if given the perfect situation, he can do just that.
He’s capable. But he’s not the answer.
Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the numbers.
Statistically, he’s as mediocre as a quarterback can possibly be. In 2013, statistically the best season of his career, he ranked near the middle of the league in completion percentage, passing yards, passing touchdowns and quarterback rating. He also ranked in the bottom third of the league in yards per attempt, a metric that’s telling of a quarterback’s true value.
Smith is a fine quarterback. But last week, Jason Cole of the National Football Post reported that the Kansas City Chiefs are interested in giving Smith a contract extension worth an average of $17-17.5 million per year. That would account for roughly 14 percent of the Chiefs’ cap room, and would rank Smith as the eighth highest paid quarterback in the NFL.
We’re talking about Alex Smith, the same guy that can’t win unless he’s put in the perfect situation and you’re telling me that the Chiefs would be spending 14 percent of their salary cap just to lock him up for the next four to five years?
I’m sorry, but I’m not willing to subscribe to this theory. Thankfully, the Chiefs have other options.
Smith enters the 2014 season under a one-year, $7.5 million contract. If I’m the Chiefs general manager, John Dorsey, I enter the 2014 season without ironing out a new contract and instead, see where the season takes us.
Lets say that is the route the Chiefs decide to take. With so many holes on the roster, and no second round pick in the 2014 draft, it’s not particularly likely that Kansas City would be willing to spend a first round pick on a quarterback.
Fast-forward to the 2015 offseason. The Chiefs will have all of their draft picks, John Dorsey will have spent two years filling holes on the roster and it may be time for the team to invest in a first round pick. If for whatever reason, they don’t find a quarterback worthy of their first round pick, Smith will still be there as a legitimate option to come back for his third season as the starter for the Chiefs.
A non-exclusive franchise player can be offered a one-year contract for a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the previous year or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is less. For Alex Smith, it’s the latter; 120 percent of his 2014 salary would amount to $9 million, a reasonable figure for a quarterback of his ability.
When you look at the Chiefs situation, it’s rocky, but it’s manageable. The worst thing that Kansas City could do is pay top ten money to a quarterback that’s closer to the 20th best in the league than the tenth.
This offseason, and the next five years of the franchise, will be defined by whatever decision the Chiefs front office makes regarding Alex Smith’s contract. If they extend him, they’re joining the likes of the Lions, Bears and Cowboys that were forced into bad contracts due to their situations. If the Chiefs decide not to re-sign Smith, they will have an opportunity to see a larger sample size of Smith’s work in 2014 and can make a more informed decision moving forward in the 2015 offseason.
There is still a lot of work to be done, a lot of moves to be made, but the decision on the franchise quarterback will be at the top of the list of decisions John Dorsey must make heading into the offseason.
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