Alex Smith (QB)

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.

AFC Notes: Kap, Chiefs, Bills, Ravens, Pats

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith became $2MM richer when he showed up to training camp Thursday, making his reporting bonus the largest in the NFL, per Field Yates of ESPN (on Twitter).

With Smith and first-round pick Patrick Mahomes in the fold, the Chiefs aren’t in the market for a signal-caller, but there would be “no hesitation” to sign polarizing free agent Colin Kaepernick if they were, owner Clark Hunt told NBC Sports Radio in San Francisco on Wednesday (via Scott Gleason of USA Today).

While Kaepernick’s political activism has made it difficult for him to find work since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March, that wouldn’t have deterred the Chiefs from pursuing him. Clark noted that “there are certain circumstances where guys get in trouble off the field, and that is something as an organization and as a family we care about,” but Kaepernick isn’t someone who has been a problem away from the gridiron.

Notably, Kaepernick was teammates with Smith when the two were 49ers from 2011-12. Kaepernick took the No. 1 job from Smith during that stretch, which led San Francisco to trade him to Kansas City, but there’s no chance of the two appearing on the same depth chart with the Chiefs.

More on KC and a few other AFC franchises:

  • Free agent wide receiver Anquan Boldin‘s workout in Buffalo this past Monday hasn’t led to a deal, though head coach Sean McDermott hasn’t closed the door on the 36-year-old signing with the Bills. McDermott told Mike Rodak of ESPN.com and other reporters Thursday that the two sides are still determining whether they’re the right match for each other. McDermott also called the meeting with Boldin a “nice visit,” according to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News (Twitter link).
  • The Ravens were the only team other than the Jets to put him in a claim for wide receiver Lucky Whitehead, tweets Field Yates of ESPN. Whitehead hit waivers after the Cowboys cut him Monday, and he joined the Jets on Wednesday.
  • The Chiefs promoted Mike Borgonzi from co-director of player personnel to director of player personnel on Wednesday, per BJ Kissel of the team’s website. Borgonzi had shared the position with Brett Veach, who took over for the fired John Dorsey as Kansas City’s GM earlier this month. Veach beat out Borgonzi and others for the role.
  • Undrafted rookie Austin Carr could benefit from Andrew Hawkinsretirement more than any other Patriots receiver, observes Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. The Pats are still loaded at receiver, where they’ll primarily rely on Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola, but Hawkins’ exit leaves Carr as the next man up, writes Reiss. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Carr was the Big Ten receiver of the year last year, when he piled up 90 catches, 1,247 yards and 12 touchdowns at Northwestern.

AFC Notes: A. Smith, Orr, Watson, Landry

It was former Chiefs GM John Dorsey who ultimately pulled the trigger on the team’s draft-day trade that allowed Kansas City to climb all the way up to the No. 10 overall spot and draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But now that Dorsey is out and Brett Veach is in, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report says it is fair to question what the new hire means for incumbent signal-caller Alex Smith.

But according to Miller, not much will change with respect to the team’s approach to Smith. After all, Veach has been with the Chiefs for the past four years, so it’s not as if he’s coming to Kansas City with a fresh take on the situation. Plus, Miller’s league sources all said effectively the same thing: “nothing changes in Kansas City while Andy Reid is the head coach.” As such, you can still expect the team to move on from Smith after the 2017 season — and save $17MM in the process — as long as Mahomes appears ready to assume control.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • Kevin Bowen of Colts.com says all is quiet on the Colts/Zach Orr front, and at this point, the team has had plenty of time to sift through Orr’s medicals. Therefore, Bowen does not believe Indianapolis will pursue Orr in an attempt to bolster its linebacker corps.
  • Although Texans GM Rick Smith was not as definitive as head coach Bill O’Brien in declaring Tom Savage the team’s Week 1 starter, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle confirms that Savage will be under center when the regular season gets underway. Rookie signal-caller Deshaun Watson, meanwhile, is content to remain patient and wait for his opportunity. Watson said, “It’s best for the team. Coach [O’Brien] knows a lot of football. He’s been with … one of the best in NFL history in Tom Brady. He knows how everything is operated. He knows when the perfect timing will be.”
  • Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant recently said he took issue with the way Ben Roethlisberger spoke about him to the media earlier this summer, when Big Ben said Bryant would need to “win back everybody’s trust.” That might sound pretty rich for a player who managed to get himself suspended for the entire 2016 campaign, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com nonetheless believes that it is important for Bryant and Roethlisberger to have the sit-down that Bryant proposed. Although such meetings are often unbeneficial formalities, Fowler says Bryant, whose position in the league is fairly tenuous at this point, needs to feel like the catalyst he can be and not become a source of criticism.
  • The Dolphins‘ best bet may be to simply let Jarvis Landry play out the 2017 season, his contract year, and put the franchise tag on him in 2018, as Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders opines. After all, Landry is set to make less than $1MM this year, so even the projected $17MM tag in 2018 would allow Miami to keep Landry for at least two more seasons at about $8.5MM per year, which is well below the $14MM per year he would likely get with a new contract. Although that approach could create some discord between player and team, it does make short-term financial sense.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com makes a series of predictions for the Jets, with the most interesting being that he expects Christian Hackenberg to become the team’s starting quarterback no later than Week 12 (New York has a Week 11 bye), and that he expects Todd Bowles to be retained for 2018.

AFC West Notes: Chiefs, Smith, Mahomes

The Chiefs gave Alex Smith a heads-up before drafting Patrick Mahomes, but the veteran is realistic about what the rookie’s presence means for him.

I think [the Chiefs are] committed to me [only] through this year,” Smith said (via ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher). “That’s just the nature of it. If you don’t go out there and perform, I mean, coach [Andy] Reid and [quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy] are very honest. You’ve got to go out there and do your deal. We all have to. Whether or not we drafted Patrick, it doesn’t change that, right? If you’re not good enough and didn’t get it done, you’re not going to be around long. That’s just our culture. I know it. That’s the nature of the position.”

Smith is under contract for two more seasons, but KC can drop him next year and save $17MM versus just $3.6MM in dead money. If Mahomes gets an opportunity this year and performs well, it’s conceivable that Smith won’t be around to see the scheduled end of his contract.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • The Chiefs are hiring former Packers Assistant Director of Pro Personnel Tim Terry to be their new Director of Pro Personnel, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Terry was started with the Packers in 2004 and ascended to Assistant Director of Pro Personnel in 2008. After roughly 13 years in Green Bay, he’s going from the NFC North to the AFC West and getting a promotion.
  • Tre Boston was moved to sign with the Chargers after a chance meeting with a random man, as ESPN.com’s Eric D. Williams writes. “I crossed two lanes to get to the gas station. I pump my gas. After I pump my gas, I put my wallet in my car. After I put my wallet in my car, there’s a guy with three kids and he asked me for a little bit of change, or if I had a dollar or two,” the safety explained. “I gave him a $20. So he tells me thank you so much, and that God put me in his life for a reason. And in my mind I’m saying you’re here for a reason, too. So in my mind I’m saying should I ask him, ‘L.A. or Buffalo.’ And before I could ask him, my man told me, ‘Thank you so much. There aren’t too many people like you in this world, God’s children. My name’s Mike Daniels, but people call me L.A.'” Pittsburgh also reportedly expressed interest in signing Boston, but it sounds like the Bills were the real runners-up for his services.
  • Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like we’ll see Aldon Smith suiting up for the Raiders anytime soon.

AFC Notes: Chiefs, Ravens, Fins, Titans

As the Chiefs were preparing to trade up 17 spots in the first round of this year’s draft to select Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes 10th overall, they reached out to starting signal-caller Alex Smith to make sure he’d be OK with it, general manager John Dorsey told the NFL Network on Monday (via Conor Orr of NFL.com). “You know, Alex is the consummate professional,” said Dorsey. “He’s been through these types of situations before and we made sure we communicated with Alex leading up to the draft that we may make a move like this. And when we were on the clock and traded up with Buffalo, we made sure we again got in contact with Alex and he’s all on board with this.” Even after the addition of Mahomes, Smith knows the Chiefs are “his team,” per Dorsey, who praised the 33-year-old for owning “the fourth-winningest record” among QBs since his KC tenure began in 2013. The Chiefs have indeed posted an excellent regular-season mark (41-20) with Smith at the controls, but they’ve managed only one playoff win in three trips. Now, thanks in no small part to the Chiefs’ investment in Mahomes, Smith appears unlikely to last as their starter for much longer. The 12-year veteran’s contract will expire after the 2018 season.

More from the AFC:

  • The Ravens are the best fit for free agent running back LeGarrette Blount, opines ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley, who writes that the ex-Patriot’s “bruising” style would be perfect for Baltimore’s offense. Moreover, running back is a need for the Ravens, Hensley points out. With Kenneth Dixon set to miss the opening quarter of the season on account of a suspension and Terrance West having led the team last year with a so-so 774 yards on 193 carries, it’s hard to argue with Hensley. PFR’s Zach Links recently made a case for Baltimore to sign Blount, who set a career high with 1,161 rushing yards and finished with an NFL-best 18 touchdowns on the ground last season.
  • Retired quarterback Peyton Manning had a hand in the Dolphins’ late-winter acquisition of tight end Julius Thomas from the Jaguars, Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post details. Manning played in Indianapolis under now-Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christiansen, who contacted the future Hall of Famer about Thomas when Miami was considering trading for him. Thomas’ best seasons, the 2013 and ’14 campaigns, came in Denver with Manning under center (and now-Dolphins head coach Adam Gase at offensive coordinator). Having tossed 24 touchdown passes to Thomas during that two-year span, Manning offered Christiansen a positive review of the tight end, saying “that (Thomas) figured it out. (Thomas’) figure-it-out factor was high. That’s what you look for. There’s a guy who came in and probably didn’t know a whole bunch about football, or played very little. His experience was very minimal, and then (he) came in and figured it out and then worked.”
  • The Titans are likely to promote Jon Salge to director of college scouting, a source told ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). Salge, a college scout who’s in his 11th year with the Titans, would replace the recently fired Blake Beddingfield.

Chiefs HC, Ownership Support Alex Smith

While previous reports have indicated that the Chiefs could look for an upgrade at quarterback, NFL Network’s James Palmer says that may not be the case. The pundit tweets that Chiefs ownership and head coach Andy Reid have been “backing” Alex Smith as their starting quarterback in 2017. Meanwhile, Palmer notes that the organization is not interested in Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Alex SmithSmith has compiled a 41-20 record during his four seasons in Kansas City, but he’s yet to advance his team past the divisional round. 2016 was arguably the best season of the veteran’s career, as he completed 67.1-percent of his passes for 3,502 yards, 15 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

Romo has only played five games over the past two seasons. His last healthy season came in 2014, when he completed 69.9-percent of his passes for 3,705 yards, 34 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Previous reports have also linked the Chiefs to Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

If the team were to add a replacement, they’d still need to find a taker for Smith. Previous reports indicated that in this scenario, it’d be more likely that the team releases the 32-year-old. The Chiefs would save $9.7MM by cutting the veteran, or $13.3MM by designating him as a post-June 1 release.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Notes: Quarterbacks, Harris, Cap Room

The Jets will surely be exploring every possible option when it comes to the quarterback position, and WFAN host Boomer Esiason believes Chiefs signal-caller Alex Smith would be an excellent fit for the organization.

“He can handle the crap if he has to,” Esiason told Connor Hughes of NJ.com. “He would be a very steady influence and somebody who is in the midst of his prime. And he knows the West Coast offense. I’m assuming that’s what [offensive coordinator] Johnny Morton is going to be running?

“There’s no way Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg are going to be ready for that. They’re just not ready for it. Alex has, obviously, played his entire career in it.”

Of course, Smith would only be available if the Chiefs acquire an upgrade at the position. This past season, the 32-year-old completed 67.1-percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and a career-high 3,502 passing yards. The veteran’s cap hit is expected to be around $16.9MM next season, and he’s signed through the 2018 campaign.

Let’s take a look at some other notes coming out of the Big Apple…

  • Speaking of quarterbacks, NFL.com’s Charley Casserly believes Bears veteran Jay Cutler would be a fit for the Jets… as long as he can handle the media. Cutler has a history with wideout Brandon Marshall, and he’s also played for quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates. The 33-year-old appeared in only five games this season, marking the seventh-straight campaign that he failed to play in all 16 games.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com believes that the Jets restructuring linebacker David Harris‘ contract would be “ideal.” The veteran is set to enter the final year of his deal, and the team could free up $6.5MM by cutting him loose. However, Slater believes the 33-year-old can still play, and a lower salary may be the better option than simply cutting him.
  • Slater also points out that the Jets have already cleared $17.5MM be cutting Ryan Clady, Breno Giacomini, and Nick Folk. The team could free up at least another $30MM by releasing Marshall, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, and Marcus Gilchrist.

Chiefs Could Part Ways With Alex Smith?

Alex Smith has averaged nearly 11 wins per season during his four-year run with the Chiefs, but that won’t stop Kansas City from exploring other quarterback options this offseason, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), who notes a “growing sense” among NFL executives that the Chiefs could move on from Smith. However, Kansas City will likely only part ways Smith if it’s able to acquire another signal-caller such as the Cowboys’ Tony Romo or the Patriots’ Jimmy Garoppolo, per Cole.Alex Smith

[RELATED: Chiefs Likely To Decline Nick Foles’ Option]

Smith’s potential ouster has been a topic of conversation before, as has possible mutual interest between the Chiefs and Romo. A prospective Kansas City acquisition of Garoppolo, however, has not, although the New England signal-caller figures to be a desirable item in the coming weeks, as the Browns, Bears, and 49ers are all expected to make a push for Garoppolo (and have more attractive draft picks to offer).

A “strong feeling” exists within league circles that the Chiefs have plateaued with Smith, but Kansas City won’t acquire Romo — or presumably, Garoppolo — without cutting ties with Smith first. While the Chiefs could look to trade Smith to a quarterback-needy club, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported earlier this month that Kansas City would likely release Smith if they landed Romo. The Chiefs would save $9.7MM by cutting Smith, or $13.3MM by designating him as a post-June 1 release.

Since being acquired prior to the 2013 campaign, Smith has averaged 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions per season while completing 64.5% of his passes for the Chiefs. Smith, 32, has led Kansas City to three postseason appearances during that span, but the Chiefs have never advanced past the Divisional Round.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Eyeing Upgrade At Quarterback

The Chiefs have finished with a winning record in each of their four seasons with Alex Smith under center. However, the team has only made three playoff appearances, and they’ve been incapable of advancing past the divisional round. As a result, the Chiefs may be looking for a change, and there’s an obvious name that they could pursue.

Tony Romo (featured)NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Chiefs have been looking to upgrade the quarterback position following their playoff loss to the Steelers. The writer suggests that the organization could end up going after Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

“It was noteworthy when Andy Reid was non-committal to Alex Smith,” Rapoport said. “They’ve made a QB trade in the past, doing so for Alex Smith. They’d have to be considered someone who would be a possibility.”

The connection between Romo and the Chiefs isn’t very surprising, as Romo listed Kansas City as one of his “favored destinations” (along with the Broncos, Texans, and Cardinals). If the Chiefs did somehow acquire Romo, it’s unlikely that Smith would be part of that swap or any other trade. Rapoport notes that the Chiefs would likely cut the veteran quarterback, which would leave the organization with $7MM in dead money. The 32-year-old has two years remaining on his contract, and his 2018 cap hit is projected to be north of $20MM.

Smith threw for a career-high 3,502 passing yards this past season, but it was an otherwise typical season for the 11-year veteran. Smith’s 67.1-percent completion percentage, 15 touchdowns, and eight interceptions were generally on par with his career numbers, and the Chiefs once again ranked towards the bottom of the league in passing offense.

Of course, Smith still put up better numbers than Romo, who sat out the majority of the season with a back injury. The 36-year-old ultimately appeared in one game this season, completing three of his four pass attempts for 29 yards and one touchdown. With the organization opting to build around Dak Prescott, Rapoport notes that the veteran quarterback is open to a trade. However, the writer also reports that Romo is still considering retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.