I've started to notice a trend with the Alex Smith contract negotiations. Every time someone from the Chiefs suggests confidence in getting a deal done, pessimistic reports emerge, shooting down any positive momentum.
The NFL negotiation game is alive and well.
Smith spoke to the media at the start of the offseason program on April 21 and confirmed his agent was talking with the Chiefs about a new deal. This led to many local media outlets, including the KC Star and the (other) AP, writing their stories about those extension talks. Absent any pessimistic info, people seemed optimistic something would eventually get done.
The next day a league source crapped on that, telling Pro Football Talk the talks were moving "very, very slowly".
Then there was the whole "Chiefs may draft a QB" in the first round thing.
Move to this past Tuesday morning. Andy Reid goes on NFL Network and says he's confident a deal will be struck between the two sides. People write about it. You know what comes next ...
On NFL Insiders, Ed Werder on #Chiefs talks with contract-year QB Alex Smith: "Substantial differences" & "sense of pessimism" about a deal.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) May 27, 2014
I’m told that extension talks between the #Chiefs & Alex Smith have been "almost nonexistent" in recent months, per a league source.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) May 27, 2014
The point here is to remember that it's the war that counts, not these little battles. There will be pushing and pulling from both sides during these negotiations. It is standard operating procedure for leaks like this to come out in order for one side to gain some sort of perceived leverage. It does not mean Smith doesn't like the Chiefs or the Chiefs don't like him ... even if it may come off like that sometimes.
This is how these things go: In the coming months more reports will emerge that things aren't going well, that the Chiefs would consider moving on from Smith, that Aaron Murray is doing better than expected, that Smith wins more than Jay Cutler (or whichever quarterback's name you want to use there). We'll cover all of that as it comes up but remember the big picture in this process -- that the Chiefs gave up high draft picks and both sides want a long-term deal -- because it will almost certainly get ugly on some levels (this is a negotiation involving tens of millions of dollars, after all).
Sometimes I dread these negotiations because fans turning on the player and calling him greedy seems almost inevitable. Check out the first two comments on our Facebook post about Justin Houston missing OTAs -- both blaming him for being "greedy". Similar contract situation with Smith. More and more fans are starting to understand the business realities of the NFL but those comments demonstrate my belief that fans will ultimately side with the team.
Basically what I'm saying is don't get too caught up in the public negotiations game that will be played via anonymous league sources. Ultimately, the big picture here is that both sides want the same thing -- a long-term deal. The details will work itself out.
Update: And today ...
There's been very little dialogue between Chiefs and Alex Smith, substantial differences remain and some skepticism about deal before season— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) May 28, 2014
If a #Chiefs/Alex Smith deal gets done, it’ll likely be before camp — not now. Team willing to franchise him for ’15 if talks stay stagnant— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 28, 2014
Key "problem" for #Chiefs/Smith: There is no 2nd-tier QB market. It’s franchise QB or… not. Why he’s pushing to be paid like a top-tier QB— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 28, 2014
Back in January, I know that #chiefs QB Alex Smith wanted a deal above Jay Cutler (7 yr, $126M). I can't imagine that has changed.— Jason Cole (@JasonPhilCole) May 28, 2014
Another update: To balance it out, Mrs. Smith chimes in!