Why Not Trading for Alex Smith Will Be the Best Decision Browns Make All Year

Jonathan MunshawCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2013

Alex Smith, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, has been traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. It was previously reported that Cleveland was interested in trading for the quarterback, despite already having Brandon Weeden.
Alex Smith, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, has been traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. It was previously reported that Cleveland was interested in trading for the quarterback, despite already having Brandon Weeden.Harry How/Getty Images

When news broke last week that the San Francisco 49ers had traded Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns fans everywhere should have taken a sigh of relief.

The trade showed that, obviously, the Browns didn’t make a legitimate run at Smith. This is good news to Cleveland fans, who should be more excited that the Browns can focus on improving second-year signal-caller Brandon Weeden.

This makes more sense for the Browns, a team that has had 18 different starters since 1999.

It’s hard to say if Cleveland would have pursued Smith further had the Chiefs not landed him first, but letting him go will be the best decision the Browns make all season.

At the beginning of February, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Smith would be a good fit for the Browns and that the team was interested in the quarterback.

But because of this trade, the Browns were saved from themselves. Smith wouldn’t have been a good fit on the team for several reasons.

For one, Smith isn’t the type of player who can come into a team and automatically make the offense better. He needs everything else around him to be right in order for him to succeed.

His best season was in 2011, when the 49ers were much improved, and they had a solid team around him.

That season, he completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 3,144 yards and 17 touchdowns while only throwing five interceptions.

Just one season before that, when San Francisco was significantly worse, Smith struggled. His interception count was twice as high and his completion percentage was lower. In 2010, Smith only appeared in 11 games, five less than in 2011.

The current Cleveland Browns roster doesn’t offer much more than the 2010 49ers did. Both teams had an average receiving core and an above-average running back.

However, Cleveland’s offensive line is arguably much better than San Francisco’s line was in 2010.

Despite that, there isn’t much that Smith could have worked with on the Browns roster. Smith has never put up numbers to show that he can overcome lack of production from other offensive players.

Unless Cleveland planned on making a move on a big receiver in free agency, it’s hard to believe that Smith could have turned around the under-performing offense.

Aside from his production, it didn’t make much sense for Cleveland to bring in yet another new quarterback.

Yes, the offense will be undergoing a change anyways with the addition of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner. But it’s not fair to the offense to throw another quarterback in the offense.

Just in the past three seasons, the offense has had to operate under the likes of Thaddeus Lewis, Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme.

It wouldn't be fair for them to once again have to take on a new quarterback learning a new system.

While Brandon Weeden will be learning a new playbook, at least he has had a year to develop a relationship with the running backs and the receivers. He doesn’t have to work too much on his timing, and he’ll be able to focus more on understanding the plays.

Under Norv Turner’s system, Weeden will hopefully want to run a more open offense. Last season, he seemed content with constantly checking down to Trent Richardson and Benjamin Watson.

Even in Pat Shurmur’s offense, Weeden still had a decent rookie season.

He completed 57.4 percent of his passes for 3,385 yards. However, the touchdown-to-turnover ratio was a concern. The 29-year-old only threw 14 touchdowns while throwing 17 interceptions and giving up three fumbles.

There’s no question that Alex Smith was a tantalizing option for the Browns this offseason, but perhaps it was best that the Chiefs grabbed Smith before Cleveland could.

It makes the most sense for Cleveland to stick with Weeden and to at least give him a year with Turner to make a difference in the offense.