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Chiefs roster analysis: Quarterbacks, quarterbacks, quarterbacks

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Divisional Round - Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Here we are in the final post of a seven part series. I have to admit this was quite a bit of work for me. I pushed myself harder for this set of articles than I’ve pushed myself for any set of articles I’ve written at AP. I’m glad we’re at the finish line.

For what it’s worth, I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve been granted to write for Arrowhead Pride. I love the community here and I’m truly blessed to have this platform to pursue a hobby that is dear to me.

More importantly I’d also like to take a moment to thank my fiancee for putting up with my (probably annoying) dedication to writing here. I work a full time job, so any time I write an article it’s usually done after 8 p.m. This cuts into our time together. I honestly can’t appreciate this girl enough for tolerating my bizarre passion for the Chiefs. So now this last article is finished, I plan on going to bed early a few nights to make sure she knows I still love her.

If you’d like to see the prior six articles you can do so below:

  1. Linebackers
  2. Defensive Backs
  3. Defensive Line
  4. Offensive Line
  5. Running Backs
  6. Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

We’ll start off the same way we started all the other articles; by looking at some general information regarding the QB position.

General Information

The Chiefs currently have three quarterbacks under contract for the 2017 season. The three quarterbacks are Alex Smith, Tyler Bray and Joel Stave.

For comparison three teams have one quarterback under contract, 15 teams have two quarterbacks under contract, 13 teams have three quarterbacks under contract, and one team has four quarterbacks under contract.

Below is a list of the Chiefs current QBs under contract and their 2017 cap hits.

QB Cap Hits

Name Age Cap Hit
Name Age Cap Hit
Tyler Bray 25 $1,225,000
Alex Smith 32 $16,900,000
Joel Stave 24 $465,000

Now let’s take a look at how much the Chiefs spend on the quarterback position compared to the rest of the NFL.

The Chiefs spend the 19th most on quarterbacks in the NFL. (FYI, I did this data before the Mike Glennon deal which might change the Chiefs a spot or two)

Before the Chiefs declined Nick Foles’ option they spent the third most on the QB position, which I found to be absolutely crazy. There’s no way the Chiefs could have kept that burden on their salary cap.

Now let’s see what percentage of cap dollars are spent on the quarterback position.

The Chiefs spend 11.6 percent of their total cap dollars spent on the quarterback position. This is good for the 10th lowest amount in the NFL. The Chiefs have done a pretty good job paying their quarterback a low amount.

The cutting of Nick Foles changed a lot of things for the Chiefs when it comes to cost.

Age

The average Chiefs quarterback is 27 years of age. This puts them in the middle of the pack.

The Chiefs aren’t necessarily old at the QB position, but they also have a QB who relies on his legs, so drafting a young quarterback may be more relevant for the Chiefs than another older NFL QB team who has a traditional pocket passer.

Cost Efficiency

Here’s the segment where I know a lot of Chiefs fans will be curious about. How do the Chiefs quarterbacks stack up against the rest of the NFL in terms of cost efficiency?

I decided to use three common quarterback stats to look into this feature: total yards, total touchdowns, and interceptions. Total yards and touchdowns represents both passing and rushing plays. QBs are being asked to be a threat with their legs, so I want to account for that.

Let’s start by looking at how cost efficient the Chiefs QBs are going into 2017 in regards to total yards.

Some outliers were omitted. For instance teams with starting QBs who were injured most of the year, or teams with starting QBs who will not be on the roster in 2017.

First, the huge drop off between the Titans and the Patriots. This is what happens when your starting quarterback is on their first contract.

The Chiefs spend $5,113 per 2016 offensive yard gained by their quarterback position when compared to their 2017 cap hit. This is good for the bottom third of the NFL. For reference, the Raider spend $578. Rookie quarterback contracts are awesome when the QB plays well. The Chiefs have to do better here. I mean the lack of efficiency leaves a lot of room for improvement.

Maybe things will improve when we look at touchdown efficiency?

The same outliers from above were removed here as well.

The Chiefs pay $929,500 per 2016 touchdown when compared to the 2017 quarterback cap hits. This is good for sixth worst in the NFL when you remove the outliers (you know, teams with injured starting QBs in 2016.) This is bad and the Chiefs should hope to get more production out of their QB position for what they are paying.

Now let’s take a look at the interceptions.

This is probably my favorite graph so far in the series. We’ll start by addressing the cluster represented by the oval.

For the most part quarterbacks in my circle there are known as gunslingers. I’d consider this to be the risky gunslinger quarterback cluster. This cluster contains quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Brock Osweiler, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck, and Carson Palmer. Fun stuff!

The red line represents the idea that quarterbacks who cost more should ultimately throw fewer interceptions. Teams above the red line are below expectations, teams on the red line meet expectations, while teams below the red line exceed expectations.

As you can see for what the Chiefs are paying, they are pretty much on the red line; which means they’re on par in terms of interceptions. However with Alex Smith’s performance being so low on the passing touchdown and passing yard efficiency one would hope he could do a little better taking care of the ball.

Also there’s this....

Alex Smith gets paid to take care of the ball at an elite level. We all need to hope that he can become a top five quarterback in terms of interception percentage next season.

Trimming Some Cap Fat

With so much money being put towards the quarterback position, but so little to show for it the Chiefs could very well cut some fat this off season at the QB spot.

Player Cap Hit Pre-June 1 Dead Money Pre-June 1 Cap Savings Post-June 1 Dead Money Post-June 1 Cap Savings
Player Cap Hit Pre-June 1 Dead Money Pre-June 1 Cap Savings Post-June 1 Dead Money Post-June 1 Cap Savings
Alex Smith $16,900,000 $7,200,000 $9,700,000 $3,600,000 $13,300,000
Nick Foles $6,750,000 $0 $6,750,000 $0 $6,750,000
Tyler Bray $756,250 $0 $756,250 $0 $756,250

Nick Foles is already off the books for 2017. I wanted to include his numbers so that people could see how much room is saved on the cap. It was an obvious decision to part ways with Foles.

I actually wrote the numbers for this article twice, and the first time I wrote it containing Foles’ contract in the mix things were very, very ugly.

Alex Smith

I want to see if Alex Smith is trending in any direction for some insight going forward.

We’ll start by looking at his yardage totals from the age of 25 and up.

Smith is steady as she goes in terms of passing yards. In fact, it’s a fair argument to say that Andy Reid has gotten more out of Smith than any before him.

Smith’s rushing yards are obviously fluctuating as we talked about last season. Are Smith’s legs giving out? Or is it just the same ebb and flow he’s experienced throughout his career?

Now let’s look at total touchdowns (rushing and passing) and passer rating. (I grouped these two together because they’d fit on the same graph.)

Once again Smith appears to be very consistent over the years. There may have been a small crest at the age of 31, and Smith is starting to trail down at 32. Of course that could just be a year to year fluctuation also. Next year may say a lot about where Smith is headed.

Lastly we’ll look at touchdown percentage, interception percentage, and sack percentage.

Smith’s touchdown percentage has been overall dropping since the 2012 season. His interception percentage has been slowly climbing since 2014.

It’s not a good sign to see the season he took the lowest percentage of sacks (5.4 percent) accompanied with drop offs in efficiency.

Verdict

It doesn’t appear as though Smith is falling off a cliff by any means. He should remain a consistent quarterback in 2017.

However, due to his age, continued drop in touchdown percentage, continued increase in interception percentage, and lack of overall productivity it may be a good idea for the Chiefs to at least draft a quarterback to eventually compete for a starting role (you don’t say).

We’ve gone over this a million times on AP, but here’s the list of the first round quarterbacks we’ve talked about:

  • Deshone Kizer
  • Deshaun Watson
  • Mitch Trubisky
  • Patrick Mahomes

All of these quarterbacks have been discussed ad nauseum, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here and discuss them any further.

Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot so let’s recap.

  1. The Chiefs contract numbers are much better now that Nick Foles’ cap hit is not included.
  2. Alex Smith needs to be more efficient at taking care of the ball.
  3. The Chiefs quarterback position is poor in terms of cost-efficiency of passing yards and passing touchdowns.
  4. The Chiefs probably aren’t looking for a free agent quarterback due to the cost.
  5. The Chiefs are probably looking to draft a quarterback.

It’s been a treat writing these, I hope you have enjoyed!