According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, quarterback Alex Smith is expected to ask for his release prior to free agency this offseason, and it will be interesting to see just how the San Francisco 49ers handle this situation. However, the team is denying the reports that Smith has said anything yet (h/t CBS SF Bay Area).
On the books for $15 million over the next two seasons, Smith would be an expensive backup in this league. And though new starter Colin Kaepernick would come at a fraction of Smith's value over the same time period, the 49ers could use that money elsewhere should they decide to part ways with the eight-year veteran.
The question then becomes whether trading or releasing the quarterback is the best direction to take.
With plenty of time to decide after Super Bowl XLVII, however, the 49ers should be able to properly gauge how much interest there is across the NFL for Smith’s services—though they could throw him a solid after a loyal tenure in San Francisco by simply releasing him.
While there will be plenty of teams in the market for new starting quarterbacks come next season—Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets, among others—the Kansas City Chiefs could ultimately be the best fit for Smith.
Dilfer went on to describe a nominal interest between the two (when Reid was with the Philadelphia Eagles) prior to Smith re-signing with the 49ers before the 2011 season. “There was a courtship last year, to a certain degree,” Dilfer said.
It should also be pointed out that Reid has always seemed to get the most out of his quarterbacks—sustaining a successful run with Donovan McNabb, turning Kevin Kolb into a serviceable pro and reviving Michael Vick’s NFL career after his prison stint.
Reid brings to Kansas City his version of the West Coast offense, a system that utilizes a short passing attack that allows the ball-carrier to work in space. It requires the quarterback to be very accurate, while mitigating risk as much as possible.
Smith has emulated everything that one looks for in a West Coast quarterback during his time under head coach Jim Harbaugh, completing over 64 percent of his passes and throwing for 30 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions.
The question moving forward is whether or not his play will continue trending upward without Harbaugh around.
Smith obviously had the talent to be drafted No. 1 overall back in 2005, and it just takes some guys a bit longer to acclimate to the NFL. He is a smart quarterback that certainly won’t forget all that Harbaugh has demonstrated to him.
While the Chiefs will still need to address the quarterback position in the draft—having avoided doing so rather starkly over the years—Smith would come in as a smart and capable signal-caller that could help bridge the gap until Kansas City finally finds the true face of its franchise.
First, it will be up to Reid and new general manager John Dorsey to decide whether Smith is a good fit for the Chiefs. Then, they must decide if he is worth a viable draft pick in a trade or if the team should instead gamble on the free-agent market, depending on the 49ers' plans with the quarterback.
With the free-agent market for quarterbacks rather thin this offseason—and this draft class not being as strong as in years past—the Chiefs must get creative in fixing the most important position on the field.
Pursuing Alex Smith would at least be a step in the right direction.
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