Alex Smith (QB)

Chiefs Expected To Trade Alex Smith

Just yesterday, we learned that the Chiefs would be open to trading QB Alex Smith this offseason, but that they would not actively seek out trade partners.

Alex Smith (vertical)

But a lot can change in a day. Ian Rapoport, who reported yesterday that Kansas City would be willing to listen to offers on Smith, says today that the Chiefs, who suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Titans less than 24 hours ago, are likely to deal the Utah product in the coming months (video link).

As Rapoport observes, Smith’s value is as high as it can be after a strong 2017 campaign. He set several career-highs in 2017, including passing yards (4,042) and touchdowns (26). He also completed 67.5% of his passes and threw only five interceptions, leading to some early-season MVP rumblings. He also led the league in quarterback rating (104.7).

Plus, Smith has a very tradeable contract, as he is owed a relatively low (for a good QB) $17MM in 2018, the last year of his current deal. Rapoport notes that any new team would need to give Smith a new contract, but money should not be an obstacle to actually acquiring him.

Rapoport named a number of teams that could be interested in Smith in yesterday’s report, but today he specifically mentioned the Browns as a potential landing spot — new GM John Dorsey has already traded for Smith once in his career — and he named the Cardinals as another logical destination. Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM confirms that Arizona will indeed have interest in Smith, though they would still likely draft a QB even if they land him (Twitter links).

Smith himself is not ready to talk about his future, as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk (citing the Kansas City Star) writes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Would Consider Trading QB Alex Smith This Offseason

[UPDATE: Chiefs Expected To Trade Alex Smith]

It sounds like trade rumors will hound quarterback Alex Smith once again. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Chiefs will be open to trading the signal-caller this offseason. The reporter notes that the front office won’t “actively seek out trade partners,” but they’ll listen to any inquiries.

Alex SmithConsidering the veteran’s age and the presence of 2017 first-rounder Patrick Mahomes, Smith was mentioned in trade rumors last offseason. At the time, head coach Andy Reid and ownership offered their public support for the aging quarterback, and Smith responded with one of the best seasons of his career. The 33-year-old set several career-highs in 2017, including passing yards (4,042) and touchdowns (26). He also completed 67.5-percent of his passes and threw only five interceptions, leading to some early-season MVP rumblings.

Of course, Smith is set to make $17MM next season, and Mahomes looked solid during his Week 17 start (22-of-35 for 284 yards). As Rapoport mentions, the team could surely receive more than the pair of second-rounders they gave up when they acquired Smith from San Francisco in 2013. Still, the Chiefs earned the four seed in the AFC this season, and the reporter warns that the team could hold on to Smith if they make a run to the Super Bowl. In other words, trade talks surely won’t heat up under Kansas City’s season is officially over.

Rapoport lists a number of teams that could have interest in the veteran quarterback, including the Jets, Broncos, Jaguars, Bills, Browns, and Cardinals. He specifically notes that Arizona had interest in Smith back when he was on the 49ers, and he says the Broncos have already considered a pursuit.

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Chiefs To Start Patrick Mahomes In Week 17

The Chiefs won the AFC West in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history, and they’ll have a unique opportunity to gauge their first-round pick’s development because of their spot in the AFC standings.

Being locked into the No. 4 seed, the Chiefs will start Patrick Mahomes against the Broncos, Andy Reid said (via B.J. Kissel of KCChiefs.com, on Twitter). Mahomes has yet to play this season, but with the 9-6 Chiefs guaranteed to play in the 4-5 game next weekend, it marks an interesting chance to see Mahomes in action.

Alex Smith has been the Chiefs’ starter for the past five seasons. Smith’s been the longest-tenured Chiefs starter since Trent Green, but he has just one season remaining on his contract and saw Kansas City trade up from No. 28 to No. 10 to select Mahomes — their first first-round quarterback investment since 1983. Reid said Smith is having an “MVP-caliber” season and understands the team’s situation going into a meaningless Week 17 game in Denver (Twitter link via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star).

So, it doesn’t sound like the Chiefs will have a Doug Flutie/Rob Johnson situation on their hands this weekend, regardless of how Mahomes performs (the 1999 Bills played Johnson in a meaningless regular-season finale then started the younger player over the incumbent in the Music City Miracle loss to the Titans in what’s turned out to be their most recent playoff game).

Mahomes will take the first-team reps in practice this week, with Smith running the scout team, Reid said (via Paylor, on Twitter). The Texas Tech product will face the Broncos’ 2016 first-round pick, Paxton Lynch, who will be making his second start of the season. While Lynch will be going against a backup-laden Chiefs defense, with Reid set to rest starters (Twitter link via Paylor), Mahomes will face a Broncos defense that’s been one of the best in the NFL this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Chiefs, Garoppolo, Peterson

There is a “strong expectation” the Chiefs will trade Alex Smith this offseason, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. There could be a “historic” quarterback market in 2018, a league source told La Canfora, and Smith’s name may be a key part of it. The fifth-year Kansas City starter has just one more season left on his contract, and the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes waiting in the wings. While Mahomes is viewed as a project, and one that might not necessarily mesh with the Chiefs’ veteran core right away, Smith has struggled after a hot start — although, he has four touchdown passes today — and has the Chiefs teetering on the fringe of the AFC race despite a 5-0 run to open the season. The Chiefs sent two second-round picks to the 49ers for a then-28-year-old Smith in 2013, and while their return might not be quite on that level given Smith’s age (34 in May) and contract status, the supply-and-demand issues at this position figure to make Smith a valuable trade chip. Smith is due to comprise $20.6MM of K.C.’s 2018 cap.

Here’s more from the Western divisions, continuing with the quarterback carousel that could take place.

  • The 49ers do not sound especially eager to dangle Jimmy Garoppolo as a trade piece upon franchising him as they’re expected to, but La Canfora reports there could be a market for such a move. Multiple execs would be interested in exploring Garoppolo trade talks, per JLC, should the 49ers go after ex-Kyle Shanahan protege Kirk Cousins. While the Cousins-to-San Francisco talk has died down since the Garoppolo trade, the Redskins passer could be a tag-and-trade candidate as well. Garoppolo made his first start for the 49ers today, and it may take a rough December from the quarterback to convince the 49ers to abandon this project so soon.
  • Adrian Peterson will not be available for the Cardinals in their pivotal game against the Rams. The running back suffered a neck injury against the Jaguars last week, and he’ll miss his first game of the season. Peterson missed most of last season due to a knee injury. Kerwynn Williams will start for Arizona, which at 5-6 is facing essentially a must-win game.
  • On the subject of injured Cardinals, Carson Palmer is not yet ready to close the door on a 2017 return. However, the Cards probably need to win today sans-Peterson to keep that door ajar.
  • The Chargers will use a fourth kicker of the season today, having swapped out Nick Novak-for-Travis Coons.

Andy Reid To Hand Over Play-Calling Duties

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid will hand over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Matt Nagy for the team’s game against the Jets today, as ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweets. Reid will “continue to have oversight” of the play-calling, per Mortensen, which means that he will retain veto power over Nagy’s decisions.

Andy Reid

Reid’s decision comes on the heels of a horrible stretch for Kansas City, which started the season 5-0 only to lose five of its next six. The Chiefs’ sputtering offense has been a big reason for its slide, and quarterback Alex Smith has experienced a precipitous drop-off in his quality of play after looking like a legitimate MVP candidate earlier in the season. Reid apparently decided enough is enough and is hoping a new voice in Smith’s ear will give him a bit of a boost.

As Mortensen observes (via Twitter), this is not the first time that Reid has done something like this, as he has temporarily ceded play-calling responsibilities to his offensive coordinators in both Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Even more interesting is Mortensen’s tweet concerning Smith himself. Although Reid has steadfastly supported his incumbent signal-caller — and just last week we heard that the Chiefs would only turn to rookie Patrick Mahomes this season if Smith were to get hurt — Mortensen suggests that, if Smith struggles against New York today, Mahomes could get the nod.

Nagy, of course, is a popular head-coaching candidate who could get his first chance to lead an NFL team this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Should The Chiefs Start Patrick Mahomes?

The Chiefs looked to be one of the best teams in the NFL after a 5-0 start. However, the team has taken a nosedive as of late, losing three straight games and dropping five out of their past six.

"<strongA major reason for the hot start had been the outstanding play they’d been getting from veteran quarterback Alex Smith. Known as one of the better game managers at the position, Smith had been criticized for his inability to carry the Chiefs to victory on his own. However, Smith was a legit MVP candidate earlier in the year, throwing the ball down field more, while continuing to limit mistakes. The team already had a solid roster across the board, considering that they finished as the AFC’s second best team heading into the playoffs last season. Smith also was given exciting playmakers in TE Travis Kelce, WR Tyreek Hill and rookie RB Kareem Hunt.

Still, even with all these weapons and a weak conference, the Chiefs find themselves in a real fight to just make the playoffs. This has led to speculation that Kansas City could turn to rookie backup Patrick Mahomes for a little shot in the arm. Although the team clearly thinks highly of their 2017 first round pick, head coach Andy Reid stayed committed to Smith after the Chiefs loss today.

That’s not where I am at right now,” Reid said in today’s postgame press conference (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).

Reid is notably close to the vest, but even he can’t deny that his team is in a bad way right now. Replacing Smith with Mahomes would be a huge risk considering that despite his great raw ability, the former Texas Tech QB was classified as incredibly raw coming into the draft.

It’s a storyline that we didn’t think would hold any credence given the Chiefs fast start, but there might be increased noise to make this move if Kansas City can’t turn things around in the weeks to come.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

QB Notes: Chiefs, Mahomes, Taylor, Bills

The latest on two quarterback situations to watch:

  • Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters after Sunday’s game that he didn’t consider replacing Alex Smith at quarterback. He also says he isn’t thinking about turning to Patrick Mahomes in KC’s next game. “That’s not where I am at right now,” Reid said (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Smith had a rough outing on Sunday, leading many to call for the first-round rookie to take his place. The Chiefs – who are still in the mix for the AFC West crown – have dropped three straight and five of their last six.
  • Bills coach Sean McDermott says “Tyrod Taylor is “our quarterback for next week,” (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). On Sunday, Taylor led Buffalo to victory over Kansas City, a win that snapped a three-game losing streak. It’s no surprise that Taylor will remain at the helm given the W and Nathan Peterman‘s ugly five-interception game last week. If the Bills continue to win with Taylor, it could push the team to reverse course and stick with him for 2018. The Bills have the option to retain Taylor for 2018 with a reasonable $10MM salary and a $6MM roster bonus. If they want to go in a different direction, they can cut him before the bonus date in March and eat just $1MM.
  • The Chiefs need to start thinking about a shift to Mahomes, ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher argues. The Chiefs were the league’s last unbeaten team at 5-0, but their playoff position is now in serious peril. It would be a lot for KC to ask Mahomes to take over right now, but Teicher is of the opinion that the Chiefs should make the switch if Smith falters again. Smith, entering his age-34 season, is under contract for 2018 at a $20.6MM cap number. The Chiefs can save $17MM and eat just $3.6MM by releasing him before June 1, however. Installing Mahomes as the starter could help the Chiefs salvage this season while better informing their big decision in the offseason.

AFC West Notes: A. Smith, Broncos, M. Williams

After jumping out to a 5-0 start this year, the Chiefs have lost four of their last five games, making themselves vulnerable to the surging Chargers and even the Raiders in the AFC West. The team’s offensive struggles have contributed to that swoon, and quarterback Alex Smith has fallen off a bit after a torrid first half. He is coming off a miserable performance in Kansas City’s loss to the lowly Giants last week, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Chiefs would only turn to rookie first-rounder Patrick Mahomes if Smith were to get hurt. Smith will remain under center the rest of the year, though Kansas City still plans to shop him in the offseason as it prepares to usher in the Mahomes era.

Now for more notes from the AFC West:

  • New Chiefs CB Darrelle Revis will likely make his Kansas City debut next week, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • Paxton Lynch is back under center for the Broncos, and Rapoport (video link) says they want him to start the rest of the year so they can fairly evaluate what they have in last year’s first-rounder. The team will run a much simpler offensive scheme for Lynch than what it employed under former OC Mike McCoy, and Lynch has been encouraged to simply do what he does best, which is run around and improvise.
  • We learned earlier today that the Raiders are likely to fire OC Todd Downing at season’s end, and that McCoy is an obvious candidate to replace him. Within that story, we cited another La Canfora article in which the CBS scribe reported that the McCoy firing might have been just the tip of the iceberg for the Broncos. He suggests that there is speculation that head coach Vance Joseph could be out after just one year on the job, and at the very least, that Denver could shake up other parts of its coaching staff.
  • Broncos GM John Elway has taken a lot of heat for his club’s 3-7 record in 2017, but Mike Klis of 9News.com says that criticism is largely unwarranted. In an interesting piece that pits Elway’s draft results against those of his long-tenured colleagues, Elway comes out near the top of the heap of NFL general managers, which makes Klis believe he will be able to turn the ship around in 2018.
  • We learned Friday that Chargers rookie wideout Mike Williams avoided an ACL tear during his team’s Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys, and Rapoport tweets that Williams has been diagnosed with a bone bruise. While Williams is expected to miss next week’s contest against the Browns, he will be week-to-week thereafter, which is a big deal for a team that has forced its way back into the playoff hunt.

AFC Notes: Osweiler, Cousins, Jim Harbaugh

The Broncos have tried to tinker their playbook a bit to suit Brock Osweiler‘s strengths, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). However, Rapoport calls tonight’s matchup with New England Osweiler’s final audition, and if he should continue to struggle, Paxton Lynch — who is reportedly getting healthier — will be given the chance to show what he can do.

Now for more rumors from the AFC (we rounded up some NFC nuggets earlier today):

  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes that the Jets‘ chances to acquire Kirk Cousins in the offseason improved after Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to San Francisco, thereby (presumably) taking the 49ers out of contention for Cousins’ services. Of course, it all depends on what Washington does, but Cimini thinks New York will make a major QB acquisition one way or another. He thinks the club will either pursue Cousins or another quality veteran (like Alex Smith, should he become available) or else trade up for one of the top signal-callers in the draft.
  • Browns LT Joe Thomas is battling an injured triceps that has knocked him out for the remainder of the season, and he remains undecided about his future, even though Cleveland gave him a pay raise for the 2018 season. As Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com writes, however, the Browns’ outlook could play a role in his decision. Thomas said, “Is it going to be for trying to pursue a championship or are we trying to pursue a playoff berth or are we trying to pursue a first pick overall? Those are all things that could play into that decision.”
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says that, when the 49ers were considering trading former head coach Jim Harbaugh, the Browns offered San Francisco two third-round picks and offered Harbaugh a five-year, $40MM contract. Harbaugh, though, did not want to go to Cleveland, but sources close to the current University of Michigan head coach say his eventual return to the league is “inevitable.”
  • Rookie Gareon Conley might be the Raiders‘ most talented corner, but he has only been able to appear in two games in 2017 due to a shin injury that has taken longer than expected to heal. Per Scott Bair of NBCSports.com, Conley’s prospects for the remainder of the year will become clearer this week. If he is able to return to practice, he could work his way back into the mix. If not, Oakland will place him on injured reserve, thereby ending his first professional season.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Smith, Mahomes

Here’s a look at the AFC West:

  • Raiders coach Jack Del Rio offered some support for Sean Smith as he faces felony assault charges. “I think we’ll let him battle legally what issues he has,” Del Rio said (via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle). “I don’t really have anything to add to it. I mean, I think you heard the story. He was defending his sister. Obviously, things occurred that were taken issue with, so he’s having to defend himself right now.” Smith played in the team’s second preseason game Saturday night and right now there’s no reason to believe that the team will come down on him with a suspension. However, depending on how things shake out, Smith may have to answer to the legal system and the league office.
  • Chiefs coach Andy Reid was unequivocal when asked whether rookie Patrick Mahomes could start over quarterback Alex Smith. “It’s Alex’s job. There’s no gray area,” Reid said (via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com on Twitter). John Dorsey was in charge at the time of the Mahomes pick, but apparently new GM Brett Veach was the one who put him on Dorsey and Reid’s radar. There’s every reason to believe that Mahomes will wind up as the Chiefs’ main QB at some point, but the Chiefs want to avoid speculation of the transition happening this year.
  • Chargers back up offensive tackle Tyreek Burwell has a broken hand, as Alex Flanagan of NFL Network tweets. Burwell first joined the Bolts as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He appeared in eleven games as a rookie and five last season.