Alex Smith Trade and Where the Chiefs Go From Here
James is back to share his thoughts on the Chiefs trading away Alex Smith. I became a Chiefs fan while in college and then when the Rams left St. Louis (kick rocks Kroenke and Goodell) James has been a lifelong Chiefs fan. You will see his in depth analysis in the first few paragraphs and mine will follow.
The Kansas City Chiefs just pulled off a trade that gains them three crucial commodities, a 3rd round draft pick, a young cornerback, and cap space. All three of these things are significant for the franchise and give them the opportunity to build around their young starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. Fans are excited about this new era, but I wanted to take a moment to analyze the trade and how I feel the Chiefs could best use their new assets.
The Chiefs seem primed to follow the blue print that has led to success for some recent Super Bowl quality teams. That blue print is building around a starting quarterback still on his rookie deal. Recent success stories have been the Seattle Seahawks building around Russell Wilson and this year we saw the Jaguars make impact moves in free agency behind Blake Bortles. Both of these organizations built their defense through the draft and added a few free agents to build some of the best defenses in the NFL. Of course they were not successful right away but their front office was patient, let their players mature, and found themselves making deep playoff runs. They also both had good running backs, Seattle had Marshawn Lynch and the Jags drafted Leonard Fournette 4th overall this year. Having these bell cow backs allowed the coaching staff to take a little pressure off their quarterbacks and they did not have to rely on them to win games right away. The Chiefs hopefully have their franchise running back in Kareem Hunt who they drafted in the 3rd round of this years draft. The $15 million the Chiefs saved by trading Alex Smith puts them about $8 million in the black for the salary cap this year. That money could be used to beef up the defense or add a wide receiver this off season or may be better spent in 2019.
If the Chiefs choose to save the money for a 2019 spending spree, the defense still received a huge boost by acquiring cornerback Kendall Fuller in the trade. Fuller was a third round draft pick for Washington in the 2016 draft. He was a first round talent but slid to the third round because of an injury late in his college career. Many scouts have rated Fuller as a top slot corner in the league and that would be a massive upgrade for the Chiefs. Any KC fan will tell you that except for Marcus Peters, who occasionally forgets how to tackle, the Chiefs flat out sucked at corner this year. Fuller will move from the slot to outside corner opposite of Peters. His versatility of previously playing the slot will allow the Chiefs to better defend wideouts like Antonio Brown, who routinely moves to the slot in three wideout sets. This doesn't entirely solve the cornerback issue in Kansas City but it is a start.
The wild card in this trade is the third round pick the Chiefs received from Washington. KC does not own a first round pick in this years draft so acquiring as many picks as possible is imperative. The Chiefs have proven to be hit or miss in the third round of previous drafts. Success stories like Travis Kelce, Jamaal Charles, Justin Houston, Dustin Colquitt, and most recently Kareem Hunt should give Chiefs fans hope. However for every success there has been a failure drafted in the third round with guys like KeiVarae Russell, Brodie Croyle, Tank Tyler, Phillip Gaines, and Chris Conley. This is also Brett Veach's first draft as a GM but he likes to point out that he was a big proponent behind drafting Hunt this past year. Hopefully the third round magic will continue during this year's draft.
One final thought, as frustrating as he was Alex Smith should be remembered well for what he did in Kansas City. He came to a franchise that was excited to have Kyle Orton and Tyler Palko as we desperately tried to forget Matt Cassell. He played hard and never made excuses. He worked his tail off and during his last year he put together his best statistical season. People will remember the missed opportunities but I will remember the back to back 2-14 season before Smith arrived. He was by no means perfect but he was better than anything we had since Trent Green. With all of that being said, its time for the Mahomes experience to begin. Let's see what this kid is made of.
When I saw the Chiefs had traded Alex Smith I expected it to be for a future late round draft pick. He is a good but not great quarterback and every team in the NFL knew the Chiefs wanted to move on and start the Mahomes era. I understand that Smith turned KC around with Andy Reid but when it comes to sports there is no such thing as loyalty as players are requesting trades and signing with rival franchises if it gives them the best chance to win. When I saw the Chiefs got a third round draft pick and a player to be named later I was blown away. Getting a third round pick for a 33 year old middle of the road quarterback was a steal for the Chiefs I thought, then the player's name came out and the trade got even better. The Chiefs filled a big time hole with a young asset and also gained a lot of salary cap money. Of course there are still holes on the team but gaining this money gives the organization the freedom to fill another hole (GIVE ME DEZ). The Chiefs have the talent to make some noise in the playoffs, Mahomes will take time to adjust to the NFL I'm sure but the guy is a gunslinger which I love. Both organizations I have followed never had a quarterback who would take chances deep down field. Mahomes steps into an offense with a variety a weapons, he will have Tyreek Hill one of the fastest wide receivers in the league, Travis Kelce who is arguably the best tight end in the league, and Kareem Hunt will join him in the backfield. The Chiefs could use another receiver on the outside to join Hill, Chris Conley, and Albert Wilson (AGAIN GIVE ME DEZ) but not many young quarterbacks get to start their careers with a supporting cast like this one.
The Chiefs defense was not great this year and is only getting older with guys like Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali both towards the end of their careers. Adding Fuller will help there is no doubt but there is more that needs to be done. They could use that draft pick to add another defensive player or package that with other assets in a trade if they wanted to. Once again clearing that cap space is huge for the organization and they could use that to add to the defense. I don't believe in Bob Sutton at all but it looks like we will be stuck with him for at least another season. So adding more talent on that side of the ball to cover up Sutton could be imperative.
A few takeaways for me: this trade was a total fleecing by the Chiefs, get DEZ and inject him into my veins, and I AM ALL IN ON THE MAHOMES ERA!