Now that the dust has settled on the trade reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs involving quarterback Alex Smith, it is time for each team to figure out what the next move is.
While adding a viable starting quarterback was the top priority for the Chiefs this offseason—and they seemingly accomplished that goal here—it does not mask the franchise’s long-standing failure to address the position in the draft.
Kansas City embodies the NFL standard for providing retread signal-callers the opportunity to either extend their careers (Joe Montana) or escape the shadow of a teammate (Matt Cassel). All in all, this particular method has yielded very little return.
While Montana’s tenure included two playoff victories and an AFC title game appearance, it happened two decades ago and signaled the last postseason win in franchise history.
In fact, the last playoff game started by a quarterback the Chiefs drafted was during the 1986 season, when Todd Blackledge (seventh overall pick in the 1983 draft) led Kansas City to a 35-15 loss to the New York Jets—a span of 13 postseason games.
Since taking Blackledge in the first round in 1983, the Chiefs have drafted only three quarterbacks inside the top three rounds. The team took Mike Elkins in the second round in 1989, Matt Blundin in the second round in 1992 and Brodie Croyle in the third round in 2006.
From the 1984 season on, the Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints are the only two franchises to not use a first-round pick on a quarterback.
Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn combined to complete fewer than 58 percent of their passes for just 2,937 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012. They racked up 28 turnovers in the process.
The Chiefs will need to add more than just Smith for next season, as it appears Quinn is on his way out (via Arrowhead Pride). Due to a salary cap hit of close to $10 million, Cassel has likely played his last game in Kansas City as well. Meanwhile, in two years with the team, Ricky Stanzi has yet to take a snap.
Instead of scouring the free-agent market, Kansas City would do well to start shedding its previous image of shying away from the quarterback position during the draft. While there may be less top-end talent in this class, depth is there, and the Chiefs could find a steal.
Alex Smith fills a huge void for this team, allowing the Chiefs to focus elsewhere as the offseason begins to ramp up. However, as vital as building around their new quarterback is, the team must also shift gears on their draft philosophy sooner rather than later.
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