While no official trade can be made until the middle of March, it has been widely reported that Alex Smith is on his way to the Kansas City Chiefs. If this happens, it would be a great move for the team to turnaround its recent fortunes.
NFL Insider Jay Glazer first reported the news of the trade on Twitter:
Deal has been agreed upon between Chiefs and 49ers. Compensation unclear but I'm told again Chiefs have made a clear commitment to Smith.— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) February 27, 2013
Smith was made available this offseason after losing his starting job to Colin Kaepernick during the middle of last season. However, this was due to no fault of his own.
The former No. 1 overall pick was having statistically the best season of his career before he went down with a concussion in early November. His completion percentage of 70.2 percent would have led the league if he had enough attempts to qualify, and his passer rating of 104.1 would have ranked third.
However, Kaepernick wowed the coaching staff when his time came, and he ended up taking over for the team for the remainder of the season.
Still, this does not devalue Smith at all. Over the past couple of seasons, the quarterback completely turned around his career by making smarter passes and cutting down on turnovers. In 2011, he led the NFL by throwing an interception on only 1.1 percent of his passes as his team went 13-3 on the year.
Even if he does not have the ability to make elite throws like other passers in the league, his smart play helped him succeed over the past few years.
This is exactly what the Chiefs need after a miserable season a year ago.
Kansas City went 2-14 last season after scoring by far the fewest points in the NFL. The 211 total points were 39 behind the Arizona Cardinals, who had the second-worst mark in the league.
However, this was not due to a lack of talent. Jamaal Charles finished fifth in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,509. Dwayne Bowe is an elite receiver when he gets the ball and is only a few years removed from a 15-touchdown season. Dexter McCluster and Jon Baldwin have both showed glimpses of being quality players at this level.
Overall, the offense was able to move the ball relatively well, but turnovers destroyed any chance of scoring. The Chiefs tied for the league lead with 37 turnovers as a team. This was mainly due to the combination of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn at quarterback combining for a ratio of eight touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
Replacing them with Smith, a player that has learned not to turn the ball over, would change the offense immediately. He would be able to utilize his weapons and turn the talented-but-flawed offense into a productive one.
Did They Give Up Too Much?
According to Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News, the Chiefs will give up a second-round pick this year and a conditional pick next year:
An NFL source says that the framework of the deal is that the 49ers will get a No. 2 pick this year and a similar pick in the 2014 draft.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) February 27, 2013
While this seems like a lot at first, this is a solid trade for a quarterback who will become an immediate starter.
In 2011, Carson Palmer was traded to the Oakland Raiders for one first- and one second-round pick. At the time, he was not even playing with his previous team and was coming off a 20-interception season.
Even A.J. Feeley went for a second-round pick in 2004 after only five career starts.
Smith is a proven commodity that will certainly help the Chiefs right away. Even if his time in Kansas City is short, the trade will turn around to be a great value.
Where Does Kansas City Go Now?
Now that the team does not need to draft a quarterback with the first overall pick, it can be free to select a more talented prospect that fills another need.
One possible option would be offensive tackle Luke Joeckel out of Texas A&M. The elite pass-blocker would give Smith the time to throw the ball that he had in San Francisco while playing behind Pro Bowler Joe Staley.
How many wins will the Chiefs have next season with Alex Smith at quarterback?
He is a much safer pick than quarterback Geno Smith would be with the first overall selection.
Additionally, it becomes important to re-sign free-agent receiver Dwayne Bowe. The talented player was probably on his way out of town due to a lack of a passing game, but it is possible that he reconsiders this notion with a new player under center.
Even placing the franchise tag on him would be a smart play in order to keep the talented player.
If the Chiefs are able to get these players on the roster, this could become one of the biggest turnarounds of any team this year.
The Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings all returned from awful seasons in 2011 to the playoffs in 2012. Kansas City can do that next season thanks to the addition of Alex Smith at quarterback.