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Alex Smith trade break down: Compensation, contract and the future of the Chiefs

The deal is not yet officially done but it's coming. The 49ers will trade Alex Smith to the Chiefs. What does this mean for the future of the Chiefs? For Matt Cassel? The No. 1 pick? We examine all of that.

Christian Petersen

The terms of the deal

This is all unconfirmed but as of now this is what we think we know about the trade details:

Chiefs get: Alex Smith with two years and $16 million remaining on his contract

Chiefs give up: 2013 second round pick (No. 34), 2014 conditional third round pick

The conditions on that pick are reportedly based on how many games the Chiefs win. If the Chiefs surpass whatever number of wins that is, that third round pick turns into a second round pick. So the trade is for a second this year and a third next year or a second this year and a second next year. One of the two.

The trade is NOT official. Neither the 49ers nor Chiefs have commented on it, though they're obviously aware that it's out there. Trades can't be consummated until March 12, the start of the new league year. I would be stunned if this trade didn't go through ... but I've been stunned by a lot of things in the NFL.

Just a heads up that it's possible we see the terms of the trade shift as we sit on this for two more weeks.

Alex Smith is not a stopgap

Sorry but the compensation involved does not say stopgap to me.

This is not a short-term solution. Alex Smith's current contract is only two years but the draft picks say this is a longer relationship. Four years ago, the Chiefs traded a second round pick for Matt Cassel and gave him a six-year contract. The Cardinals did the same with Kevin Kolb two years ago. Ditto with Donovan McNabb and the Redskins (although that was a phony contract from the start). History says these types of quarterbacks get paid via longterm deals.

Also, this on how Andy Reid feels about Smith:

"Several years."


Smith is in a unique situation because his contract is just for two years. I could envision a scenario where the Chiefs let him play out 2013 and they make a decision on the future after that.

The draft picks say this is a longer relationship.

I'll say this: it would not surprise me if the Chiefs re-did Alex Smith's contract before the season. I don't think that they should and maybe they won't. But the draft picks involved suggest that Smith is important enough to the Chiefs to make that happen.

This isn't the Alex Smith trade I thought we would see. I thought a trade for Smith would be a stopgap situation, one where he could start in 2013 and then compete with a rookie in 2014. I don't think that's the case here, at least not right away.

Alex Smith is your guy, Chiefs fans.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

This means that Matt Cassel is on his way out

Clearly, he's gone. You could believe us but here's Schefter just in case:

My post last week suggesting there is a scenario where Cassel could stay in Kansas City now looks silly. Of course he's out. He was more than likely out before the Smith trade but this all but seals it. Cassel is due $7.5 million next year, just below what Smith's contract calls for, which makes his release an easy decision.

Cassel came to the Chiefs in 2009 under similar circumstances as Smith. Cassel had a bigger contract but the Chiefs had plenty of cap space in 2009. New regime, new quarterback. That's how it works.

Cassel will become a free agent and will be eligible to sign with any team. One name that's popped up: the Arizona Cardinals.

Get ready for your mind to be blown: Matt Cassel replacing Kevin Kolb.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Reid and John Dorsey think Alex Smith >>> Matt Cassel

So you say Smith and Cassel are basically the same quarterback. Not everyone is saying that, but plenty of people are. But what does this say about what Reid and Dorsey think of Smith vs. Cassel?

It ain't even close.

Smith and Cassel were essentially the same quarterback contract-wise. Each had two years remaining with similar money, due about $7.5 million this year. Cassel was already on the team so he was free, he didn't cost any draft picks. Smith cost a second and a third round pick.

From Reid and Dorsey's standpoint, the Cassel-Smith comparison isn't close.

Think about that. How much better does Reid think Smith is than Cassel? Significantly better. Reid and John Dorsey had all offseason to evaluate the Chiefs quarterbacks. They did so and then made a trade.

So from Reid and Dorsey's standpoint, the Cassel-Smith comparison isn't even close.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

All the Chiefs quarterback options

Outside of Alex Smith, the Chiefs options at quarterback were these:

1. Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn and/or Ricky Stanzi

2. Draft a quarterback

3. Another free agent quarterback

The Chiefs chose none of the above.

The Chiefs were in the best possible position of any team to pick out any available quarterback this year, whether that's in free agency, a trade or the draft. And they traded for Alex Smith. What does that tell you about what Andy Reid and John Dorsey thought about this year's crop of free agent and draft-eligible quarterbacks?

The timing is even interesting. The day after Andy Reid and the Chiefs leave the Combine, where they met with all the key quarterbacks, they trade for a quarterback. Not even 24 hours later.

The current QB depth chart changes

Who's in: Alex Smith, Ricky Stanzi

Who's out: Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn

Alex Smith comes in as the clear starter. If the Chiefs had given up a third or fourth round pick for Smith, I could see a rookie coming in and having a legit competition with him. But with the compensation they gave up -- reportedly a second round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and a conditional third round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft -- it's clear they intend to make Smith the starter.

It's clear they intend to make Smith the starter.

Cassel, as we noted, is likely out. It's amazing how far we come in a year. Matt Cassel was the unquestioned starter entering last season. By the midpoint of the season many were calling for his release. And, just so you know, Cassel hasn't technically been released yet.

Brady Quinn is a free agent and there's been no indication that he will come back. But there's also been no indication that he won't be back. So there's that. In fact, this morning, the Jets were reportedly interested in Quinn.

I didn't mention him but the other Chiefs QB Alex Tanney, who was on the practice squad in 2012 and ended the season on IR.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 1 pick is unaffected ... or is it?

I was listening to a podcast on with Daniel Jeremiah, former Eagles scout, and he said that the folks he's talked to are saying it's gotta be a quarterback or a left tackle. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Andy Reid's drafting history points to three positions: quarterback, offensive line or defensive line. Defensive linemen, in particular, were popular with him. The quarterback option is likely off the table now with Alex Smith but the Chiefs probably weren't going to select a quarterback No. 1 overall, even before the Alex Smith trade.

This Alex Smith trade is also a good time to remind you that we have no idea what we are talking about sometimes. We didn't have a clue as to what the compensation for Alex Smith would be -- a report earlier that day cited the "scuttlebutt" as a fourth round pick -- so obviously people can be way, way off on these things.

If the Chiefs weren't taking a quarterback anyway ... the Alex Smith trade doesn't change much at all with the No. 1 pick.

I'd venture to say that Branden Albert's future will have a bigger impact on the Chiefs top pick than this Alex Smith trade. A lot bigger.

Goodbye second round pick; Hello, third round pick(s)

The Chiefs no longer have a second round pick, which is big. That was a really high pick, No. 34. Many people thought the Chiefs would use their second round pick on one of the quarterbacks who could be available. That was the thought: if they didn't pick one at No. 1, they'd do so at No. 34. Now it looks like the idea of the Chiefs using a first or second round pick on a quarterback is dead. Don't expect that to happen. It'll be a tackle or some other position in round one and then Alex Smith in round two.


The Chiefs may end up with two third round picks in this draft depending on how the compensatory picks shake out. A third round pick is the highest compensatory pick available and the formula used to determine compensatory picks isn't known so I can't say for certain that the Chiefs will get one that high. But losing Brandon Carr and his $50 million should land a nice pick for the Chiefs. That compensatory pick, I would imagine, came into play when Andy Reid and John Dorsey decided to make this trade. It doesn't justify the trade one way or another but surely that was a consideration in this.

Important note: compensatory picks can't be traded. So packaging those two third rounders to move back into the second round can't happen.

Good or bad for Dwayne Bowe?

Bowe was probably going to get franchised whether the Chiefs traded for Alex Smith or not. At least that was my read on things before the Alex Smith trade of 2013 on Wednesday. From that standpoint it doesn't affect it a whole lot.

Still, Smith's star is brighter than Cassel's right now. However small or large you may think it is, this is an upgrade. From that standpoint this is good news for Bowe. The Chiefs got better at quarterback. For the next two years, the Chiefs are better at quarterback than they were before and that should be important to Bowe.

I'll say this is good for Bowe, that he should be more likely to want to come back to Kansas City now. Really, though, he'll have little say in the matter if he's franchised. He can sign the tag or not play.

Take it away, Trent Dilfer:

"I think one thing Andy's really wanted to do in his offense over the past few years that he hasn't been able to do, is add a real line-of-scrimmage dynamic with a lot of checks, with protection, adjustments - something that I would put Alex kind of in the master category in the NFL, in that category. He's a guy that can control the line of scrimmage as well as anybody in the league. So it gives Andy and (offensive coordinator) Doug Pederson a lot of versatility in what they can do offensively.

"And he's not going to be asked to throw the ball consistently down the football field, challenged with his arm; it will be more with his brain and the completion-passing game and managing the run game. Alex can do all those things very well."

Does anyone like this trade?

Some people do! You'd be surprised by the results on our approval poll of the trade:


Not everyone hates it. But those who do hate it appear to be a LOT more vocal. The majority of the comments on AP and those on Facebook and Twitter are negative. AP reader ArrowSpread kicked it off with one of the first comments: "Sure does sound like the deal is done. AP implosion in 3...2...1..."

An implosion it was. The idea of the Alex Smith trade doesn't infuriate most people. At least it didn't to me over these past few weeks as we've been talking about it. But I was under the impression that Smith could be had for a third or fourth round pick, the Chiefs could still draft a quarterback in the first or second round, and there'd be legit quarterback competition.

The compensation for Alex Smith makes the trade tougher to swallow. All those thoughts of the Chiefs drafting their future quarterback this year are now gone. Maybe they'll find that guy later in the draft but history is clearly against that.

The reactions from those on AP and elsewhere are interesting when you compare it to our poll.

The basic premise behind liking this move is that Reid, someone who has had success with quarterbacks, likes him.

And that Smith fits Reid's system.

What I hope this means

I hope this means that Andy Reid looked at the Chiefs roster, thought they were talented and set out to acquire a veteran quarterback because the Chiefs are ready to win now. That's how I hope Reid views the roster, one that's ready to compete immediately. Because I think that's the way a lot of fans see the roster. This doesn't feel like your normal 2-14 team. This team is significantly better than the two-win 2008 team.

Every Chiefs fans has at some point in the last year uttered, "We're a quarterback away." Admit it. You have!

Reid's stamp of approval on the roster doesn't mean anything tangible. It doesn't give the Chiefs wins, it won't make them complete more passes or play better defense.

But it would make this Chiefs fan feel a little better.

Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

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