Andy Reid puts Chiefs’ future in Alex Smith’s hands
The Kansas City Chiefs already granted Andy Reid a second shot at NFL success. Now, they are apparently prepared to do the same with QB Alex Smith.
The Chiefs have agreed to a long-rumored trade with the San Francisco 49ers for Smith, FOX’s Jay Glazer reported. According to Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News, the Chiefs will send San Francisco “a No. 2 pick this year and a similar pick in the 2014 draft.”
Despite still having Matt Cassel under contract through 2014, the Chiefs made no effort to hide that they were seeking to improve at the quarterback position. News of the trade for Smith all but guarantees that Cassel will be released in the coming days; per league rules, San Francisco and Kansas City cannot formally complete the trade until March 12.
New Chiefs GM John Dorsey also may have tipped his hand on such a move earlier this month, when he told the Kansas City Star, “There is no quarterback where personnel guys can definitely say, ‘He’s a first-round pick.’”
West Virginia’s Geno Smith was believed by many to be the possible exception there, but he skipped the Senior Bowl and then underwhelmed at the scouting combine. And now, with Smith in tow, the Chiefs will be free to more easily avoid reaching on a QB at No. 1 — pushing offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher even further into the spotlight.
But no matter what the Chiefs do at No. 1, their success in the immediate future (and the early days of Reid’s tenure) hinges on Smith’s play.
Smith seemed to turn a corner last season, when he led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and a berth in the NFC title game. He started 2012 strongly, too, with a 6-2-1 mark through nine games and a 70.2 completion percentage. A concussion drove him from the lineup, allowing Colin Kaepernick to take over and open the floodgates for San Francisco’s attack, rendering Smith expendable.
Should he carry over that level of play, Reid and the Chiefs could be primed for a massive bounce-back performance in 2013 — especially if they manage to keep LT Branden Albert and WR Dwayne Bowe, both pending free agents.
However, Kansas City traversed down an almost identical road four years ago, when it finished 2-14 and then traded the No. 34 pick to New England for Cassel. After that, Cassel did help produce a division title in 2010, but recorded just 19 wins in 47 games overall for the Chiefs.
Reid has a history of developing quarterbacks, which is why Nick Foles’ name came up repeatedly after Reid made the jump to Kansas City. Reid drafted Foles last season in Philadelphia, then inserted him into the starting lineup after an injury to Michael Vick.
Smith’s arrival does not totally eliminate the possibility that Kansas City would pursue Foles, though it definitely makes it far, far less likely.
And that’s mainly because Smith is now the focal point of the Chiefs’ offense, not to mention that he brings with him at least a two-year contract (though reworking and extending that deal could top the Chiefs’ to-do list now, especially after reportedly giving up a pair of high picks). Reid and Dorsey wasted little time in their new roles figuring out what to do at quarterback.
Their answer: Alex Smith. Chiefs fans can only hope they made the right call.