In the 2013 offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs signed Sean Smith in free agency to a three-year, $16.5 million deal with $7.5 million guaranteed. It was viewed as a solid signing at the time, with Smith instantly becoming the second corner opposite of Brandon Flowers.
Smith was good in his first year with Kansas City, helping the Chiefs to an 11-5 record and playoff berth. He proved a perfect fit for Bob Sutton's aggressive bump-and-run style, playing a physical brand of football at 6'3 and 218 pounds.
In 2014, the 27-year-old had his best season yet as the team's top corner following Flowers' departure. Smith was snubbed for the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams, putting together a campaign which included 18 passes defensed (tied third-best in the NFL) and zero penalties. In this day of constant throwing and quick whistles, that is nothing short of amazing.
Now, Smith finds himself entering the last year of his contract. The corner is due $7.75 million, a number general manager John Dorsey might want to shrink with an important offseason ahead of him. One way to achieve that goal would be extending Smith instead of letting him play out the deal.
Smith proved in 2014 to be a top corner in the NFL. He is in the prime of his career and would not represent a huge spike against the cap, considering he is already scheduled to make $7.75 million.
A rough estimate for a new deal might be four years and $36 million, giving him an average of $9 million per season scratch that ... $9 million is a little high. Let's go four years, $28 million for an average of $7 million per season.
Should that be the contract, Smith would rank tied for the 10th-highest average for a corner, tied with Vontae Davis of the Indianapolis Colts. The first-year cap hit would be lower than the average in all likelihood. Aqib Talib, who signed a six-year, $57 million deal last offseason with the Denver Broncos, had a cap hit of $7.9 million. When Johnathan Joseph inked a five-year, $48.75 million contract with the Houston Texans in 2011, the original cap hit was $8 million.
If the Chiefs decide to let Smith play out his deal, a franchise tag would be out of the question. Projected numbers have the tag at $12.96 million for corners in 2015, a figure which will increase with the cap next year. Smith would be a hot commodity on the market as a premiere pass defender on the right side of age 30.
Taking care of Smith also helps Kansas City with outside players. Dorsey has done a nice job of rewarding players who perform in-house, such as Anthony Sherman, Jamaal Charles and Allen Bailey. Smith has outperformed his contract, and giving him a lucrative extension would continue to show players that the Chiefs recognize performance.
Dorsey would be wise to make the move now and lock Smith up. It is bad business to let good players walk especially when they are great fits schematically.