I’m told that timing is everything in the world of sports and sports prognostication (is that even a word?), so let me paint you a little picture. It was Tuesday night and I had just gotten home from Craig’s and finished recording the final podcast of the NFL season. Craig was mastering the episode and it would hit Thursday a day earlier than normal and give folks time to listen before the Super Bowl. I’d made some errors, but largely I was excited to be finishing our first full season and preparing to shift into the much more laid back “off season” mode. Then, my phone lit up. “Reports: Alex Smith traded to Redskins”. Damn it all! We had just spent a good few minutes talking about how Alex Smith’s value would be directly proportional to what the Chiefs decided to do, how Cleveland was interested in him and had supposedly made an offer. Damn it! Timing is everything. For a fleeting moment, I thought about pulling myself off the couch driving back to Craig’s and re-recording the entire episode. Fortunately (mostly for Craig), my common sense kicked in and I instead settled in to witness the State of the Union address. Two long politically frustrating hours later I went to bed and my last thought before passing out was “This trade is going to have ripple effects.”
So here I am about 36 hours later and I’m starting to fully comprehend the implications of this move both for the Chiefs and for the carousel of players it puts into play. This sets off a lot effects that will start taking better shape during the free-agency period and the draft. Here are the questions I’m left with.
- Is Pat Mahomes ready? This is a major gamble from my perspective. Reid is betting that Mahomes is ready for the spotlight and I’m not sure that he is. Becoming a starter, particularly in your first three season is a risky venture. There is a reason why Aaron Rodgers spent a couple years behind Farve (even if Farve did nothing to assist in his development). There is a reason why Payton Mannin won a total of three games in his rookie season, there is a learning curve to the NFL and teams will exploit your inexperience. And I get it, that’s a generalization, you could point at a dozen guys in the last twenty years who stepped up in their first year or two and were a huge success, but I could probably point at four guys who couldn’t cut it for every one you point at as a success.
- How does this change the Chiefs offense? Is Travis Kelce still a major weapon? Do we shift to a running game approach even more than we have. Do we have the blocking to allow this guy the decision making time he will need? The Chief offense is likely to look very different next season and I’m not sure how that will play out. Sure we have Tyreek Hill, but the next man up is….. uh…… let me check on that. We have Kelce, but behind him…. uh….. I thought we had this covered. Well at least we are solid at running back right, I mean we got Hunt and West and Hunt….. I think that should work, right, I have to go now. The Chiefs need to really work on developing its young talent and really really need to make sure the backups are ready to go just in case. This is a team with a lot of young skill but not a lot of experience and trading Smith just made them even younger.
- Cleveland wanted Smith, could they draft QB again? Every mock draft I’ve seen so far has Cleveland taking a QB at the first pick. I’ve seen different names in different mocks, but they all have them taking a QB. So whats the end game? Are you already done with Kizer? You passed on JuJu Smith Shuster, Alvin Kamara, Cooper Kupp and Kareem Hunt (hindsight, I know but still) to draft Kizer. Why would you spend that second rounder on Kizer and bring in Osweiler as a stop gap solution if you were going to look at this class coming up? Everyone was saying the QB class in 2018 would be good, but you still made the move foregoing your OBVIOUS needs at WR.
- If Cleveland drafts a QB…. where does that leave Kizer? They clearly wanted Smith to serve as a mentor to their next big thing, but if the plan was to bring in Smith and then draft another QB, does that make Kizer the number 3? Does it make him expendable? are they looking to move him. It makes zero sense to use the first pick on a QB this draft AND bring in a veteran if you’re still looking at Kizer as the future.
- What is Denver doing? Or the Giants? There are mock drafts where the Giants are drafting a QB at the 2 spot, but I’ve also seen interest in the RB position from them. With the new coach coming in, does he bring Keenum with him? Does he draft? were they ever in the Smith convo? What does this mean for Eli? Denver was definitely in the conversation for Smith but they had absolutely no shot, there is no way that KC would deal a QB who knows their system to Denver. The Broncos could have scratched their name off the Lombardi and written Chiefs in marker and they still wouldn’t do that deal. But they were interested, I think they make a strong play for Eli is Keenum heads to New York and look to acquire a guy like Kizer if the Browns go with a new QB.
- How much am I gonna miss Alex Smith? I was not a big fan of Alex Smith coming to the Chiefs. San Francisco LOVES to send the Chiefs their old QBs and Montana was the only one who got us anywhere. We had Grbac and Bono and now Smith, so when he got there I was not thrilled, BUT, he did a lot for this team. He addressed criticisms and always tried to do better. When every stat engine in the world said he could not throw down field, he worked the team into an offense that led the league in 30 yard+ completions and 30 yard+ touchdown passes. That’s something and it brought the team a very solid season. I’m gonna put the 2018 Chiefs at 6-10 without him and hope this sets us up for a massive run in 2019.
Enjoy the Super Bowl everyone, I’m out until then. Check us out on Twitter and Facebook, we will be back next week to wrap up the Super Bowl and start dealing with the off season questions.