By: Keaton Henry
This off-season, we could see a drastic amount of quarterback turnover, more than any year within the last decade. Though future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees is atop the to-be free agent list at the position, the New Orleans Saints are confident that a deal will be reached prior to free agency. For teams who are a top-15 QB away from serious contention, the Kansas City Chiefs should be on their speed dial.
“I’m under contract for another year, so like I said, I’m not thinking about anything else. Right now, obviously disappointed. I felt like we had a good chance, and it’s gone.” – Alex Smith after wild card loss to Tennessee
The Chiefs intend to start their youth movement this coming season when they hand the reigns of their offense over to 2017 first round QB Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City traded from the 27th pick to the 10th pick in order to get Mahomes.
Trading away a Pro-Bowl quarterback is risky but the Chiefs need to maximize the career of Patrick Mahomes and ensure that they get a return for Smith following his career season in 2017. Smith could solidify several NFL teams, should he be traded.
Here are the top 5 teams who could use him.
1. Cleveland Browns
Browns general manager John Dorsey knows how Smith can impact a team’s performance on the field and also bring confidence to a locker room. With his first major move after becoming the Chiefs GM in 2013, Dorsey sent two second-round picks to San Francisco in exchange for Smith. A similar move for Cleveland would not be surprising.
Though speculation will vary as to what a return could look like for the Chiefs, Dorsey knows Smith’s value and could be hard pressed to avoid having the Browns throw another rookie QB into the fire this season.
Making a move with Cleveland could bring a bigger return than most teams would be willing to offer, because the expectation is to show major improvement in year one under Dorsey.
2. Denver Broncos
Per reports, the Broncos plan to move on from Pro-Bowl cornerback Aquib Talib this off-season, which should intrigue Andy Reid dramatically. Most fans were upset when the team announced that defensive coordinator Bob Sutton would be returning for this coming season, but there is a method to Reid’s intention to keep his defensive staff in place.
In his four seasons as defensive coordinator, Sutton’s defenses averaged 296 points allowed per season (18.5 per game), but his 2017 defense struggled more in the red-zone, allowing 339 points (21.18 per game). Though three points may not seem incredibly drastic, this does put much more pressure on an offense who is known for grabbing the small lead early and coasting through the finish line. An acquisition of a top-10 cornerback to line up across from Marcus Peters would give the Chiefs a secondary that would strike fear in opposing offenses. With the Broncos in need of a QB maybe the division rivals can make a deal.
3. Arizona Cardinals
New Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy built very strong passing offenses around Peyton Manning (Denver 2009-2012) and Philip Rivers (San Diego 2013-2016), but the current lineup projects the likes of Drew Stanton or pending free agent Blaine Gabbert to fight for the starting gig.
This could be a preferred landing spot for Smith, depending on what return the Chiefs could get. An offense with stud running back David Johnson and future Hall of Fame WR Larry Fitzgerald could be appealing to Smith, not to mention a strong defense.
A move to the Cardinals would provide Smith with a similar set up to what he has had in Kansas City and would give the Cardinals a desperately needed jump start that they have been craving since Carson Palmer’s injury in the early portion of the 2017 season.
4. Washington Redskins
This move completely depends on what Washington decides to do with impending free agent QB Kirk Cousins. Cousins posted a 93.9 QB rating, 27 touchdowns, and 4,093 passing yards in 2017, but failed to get his team into the playoffs.
Most teams would have signed Cousins long-term two seasons ago, but Washington has been intent upon keeping the battled QB in limbo by continuing to franchise tag him. This off-season, the team could finally cut ties with Cousins with the intent to grab a quarterback in the draft and groom him under the perfect stop-gap in Alex Smith.
Head coach Jay Gruden has created high powered passing attacks with the likes of Cousins and Andy Dalton, so Smith could see an even better season in Washington than he had this past season in Kansas City.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaguars fans everywhere should be praying for this move. This team was the most loaded defensive squad in 2017 and featured rookie stud running back Leonard Fournette. Had the team seen any aggressiveness within it’s passing attack, this team would be playing in Super Bowl 52.
This is not an attack on Blake Bortles, but his consistent and careful play faded down the stretch of the season with 5 interceptions over the final two games.
Keaton Henry is a contributor on NFLUpdate.co covering the Kansas City Chiefs. You can follow him on twitter @MyChiefsUpdate