NFL free agency starts in March and I'm not sure we're hearing enough talk about the Kansas City Chiefs and Sean Smith. It's assumed by many at this point that the Chiefs are not going to re-sign Smith and he will leave for another team willing to pay him $10-plus million per year while the Chiefs will sign Eric Berry to a big contract.
That's not a bad assumption. I can easily seeing that scenario play out.
However, the Chiefs need to strongly consider re-signing Sean Smith. I've already said that they should think long and hard about tagging him if they get a Berry deal done. An honest effort to bring back their top cornerback. I say that for a few reasons:
The Chiefs were bad without Sean Smith. Those three early games without him last season were ugly. It's not all because Smith wasn't there but it's not a coincidence that the Chiefs are a better defense when he's on the field.
Cornerbacks are hard to find. The Chiefs have one that they like, one that fits their system. 6'3 and 220 pound corners don't grow on trees. The Chiefs got lucky to sign Smith to an affordable deal three years ago. Usually players like that require a larger investment or, as the Chiefs saw last year, a first round pick. Pro Football Focus points out that someone on the free agent market would likely be a downgrade from Smith.
Depth problem. If Smith leaves, the Chiefs are an injury away from Jamell Fleming or Marcus Cooper playing meaningful minutes. Some depth will come this offseason but as noted above it's also expensive so there's only so much you can do.
Derek Carr, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger. That is half the Chiefs schedule next season. The Chiefs face some good quarterbacks next season. (How great does it feel not to have Manning's name here?)
Tom Brady. This is who the Chiefs really need to beat. You saw in that playoff game that the Chiefs needed MORE cornerback help, not less. A GOAT like Brady brings his game up a level in the playoffs.
Losing Smith and replacing him with a younger player could make sense in the long run. In the short run, however, the Chiefs are likely a worse team without him.
Sure, this would be expensive as hell but what are the Chiefs supposed to do?