Trading for Alex Smith was the right thing to do.

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The Alex Smith trade was widely criticized at the time, but history shows it was the right move.

Now that we’re over a year away from having Alex Smith as the quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s easier for fans from both sides of the Alex Smith wars to view his legacy with a more objective eye.

Of course I would argue that the best path would have been to sign a cheap backup-level guy and use the extra money to surround him with talent, but considering no NFL team takes that strategy you can’t fault the Chiefs for doing it either.

Excluding that strategy, trading for Alex Smith was the next best thing. Also it was wise to keep him for the time we did, only getting a new QB when we had the opportunity to draft Mahomes.

To see why, let’s examine what other options the Chiefs had at the position from 2013 (when they traded for Smith) to 2016 (the last year before they drafted Mahomes).

The Draft

This is the big one. Chiefs fans have been desperate for the team to draft a quarterback we could call our own. Until drafting Mahomes in 2017 the Chiefs hadn’t selected a quarterback in the first round since selecting Todd Blackledge over Dan Marino and Jim Kelly in 1983.

But was there really a missed opportunity during the Smith years? Only 11 quarterbacks drafted during that time (2013-2016) have 5,000 career passing yards.

QuarterbackYearPick (Overall)Passing Yards (through 2018)
Derek Carr20143618,739
Blake Bortles2014317,646
Jameis Winston2015114,628
Marcus Mariota2015212,004
Dak Prescott201613510,876
Carson Wentz2016210,152
Jared Goff201619,581
Teddy Bridgewater2014326,268
Geno Smith2013396,182
Trevor Siemian20152505,686
Mike Glennon2013735,107

This a very uninspiring list. The only one who would be much of an upgrade over Smith would have been Wentz, who not only has been plagued by injuries, but would have been out of the reach of the Chiefs anyway since he was chosen as the 2nd overall pick.

Until Mahomes came along in 2017, there was no quarterback prospect that was both an upgrade over Smith and reasonably within reach of the Chiefs to trade up for.

Free Agency and Trades

It is much harder to find quality quarterbacks outside of the draft. Even guys like Alex Smith are rarely available since teams are so desperate for competent quarterback play and fear being stuck on the quarterback carousel.

In 2016 there were only 4 quarterbacks (including Smith) who were acquired by free agency or trade between 2013 and 2016 that had more than 3,000 passing yards.

QuarterbackYear Acquired2016 Passing YardsMethod Acquired
Carson Palmer20134233Trade (6th and 7th round pick swap)
Sam Bradford20163877Trade (1st round pick)
Alex Smith20133502Trade ( 2 2nd round picks)
Tyrod Taylor20153023Free Agent

The biggest debate here would be Carson Palmer, who was coming off some down years with the Oakland Raiders and got a second wind with the Cardinals, and was acquired the same year as Alex Smith.

Of course without the benefit of hindsight the Smith trade was a much safer move. If teams had any idea how well Palmer would perform in Arizona the Raiders would have been able to get more than just a late round pick swap for him.

But even with hindsight getting Smith may have been the better move. Smith is significantly younger than Palmer, which helped him avoid injury (Smith missed a single game due to injury as a Chief, while Palmer missed 20 games with the Cardinals) and allowed the Chiefs to get something for him in a trade when they were ready to move on to Mahomes (Palmer retired after the 2017 season).

Smith was also much more consistent. While Palmer’s 2015 season was better than any season Smith had as a Chief, Palmer only had 2 seasons that were above average by Pro Football Reference’s ANY/A stat (essentially their version of passer rating), while Smith only had a single season that was below average (and even that was only slightly off).

Conclusion

While many fans were frustrated with having yet another mediocre quarterback under center, the reality is that there were no better options. Unless the Chiefs continually tanked until they could draft Wentz, there were simply no elite quarterbacks available for the Chiefs to acquire until they drafted Mahomes.

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Berserker

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Berserker

You don’t have a hair on your ass if you don’t pin this to the top.

Berserker

(heh, works every time)

starry1

How do you know his ass is hairy?

Berserker

How do you know I know his ass is hairy?

BleedingRedAndGold

It might not be hairy, and the pin’s just a cover for his shaving habits. It could happen…

Nasrani
Nasrani

I also think it was the right thing to do, since he taught 2PMVPat (or whatever his moniker is now) a good deal of the fundamentals of the game. Mahomes couldn’t have learned behind a better QB in my opinion.

Alex put winning back into Kansas City, and put us back on the map. It was the right move, considering the QB carousel that was in place after Trent Green left.

Spider
Spider

I didn’t like the Alex Smith trade from the beginning. I was full on the Geno train…until I saw him pout during the draft and suddenly I was like, “Oh, I get it now.” Then he played in the NFL and Alex played in KC and I was like, “Wow, I was wrong.” Alex Smith was as exactly the right QB then as Pat Mahomes II is now. Alex was absolutely critical to stabilizing the franchise. It was infuriating after awhile because Alex continued to be steady when the team was ready to take the next step. He’d occasionally display some great play, enough that you knew he had the ability, but immediately follow it up with weeks upon weeks of steadiness… Once the next, right QB came along it was the right time to move on. I don’t have to hate Alex to move on. It’s like when you dump your chick because you found a hotter chick; is it really necessary to hate your ex-chick? At the same time, is it really okay to keep creeping her Facebook page? Because that’s my best analogy for what these articles are.

Chiefs4322
Chiefs4322

Smith was a mediocre QB but that wasnt an average of highs and lows. His consistency brought stability and had to be part of the value of his example. So in essence his ability to always be mediocre made him better than mediocre.

TNCHIEFS
TNCHIEFS

During 2012 Andy Reid, AS11, and the Chiefs all suffered huge adversity or outright tragedy. I’ve said it before, Alex Smith was the perfect man to bring into the middle of all that. As noted, from a player perspective he was the best option available. But I don’t know of anyone else who could’ve provided the leadership that he did during the critical aftermath. As a team, they put their heads downs and went to work. But much of what made that work was Alex’s humility and commitment.

zulu trader
zulu trader

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upamtn

I’m so pleased with what Smith brought to the Chiefs and all the wins … I won’t claim he was “elite” but he was far, far better than 1) what we had, 2) anyone else we could have gotten at the time, 3) just about anyone else who’s been available since

the guy was the QB for the team that went to the playoffs year after year after year … double digit wins, etc, etc ad nauseum

anyone who thinks the Chiefs would have been better with someone else has his head up his own (or someone else’s) a$$ so far he’s blind to the actual FACTS (you know, things that are TRUE as opposed to someone’s half-baked useless OPINION)

so yeah, that’s my OPINION (and no, you do NOT have to agree, but you DO have to realize that it’s just as valid anyone who disagrees)

thank you, AS11, for all you did for KC … total class act, and a pretty good (if not super-elite) QB who did indeed elevate the whole damned TEAM (don’t believe me? look at the records, the team W’s and L’s, because really, that’s all that counts)

3rdnlong
3rdnlong

AS11 was a Pro Bowler too. And one heck of a classy guy. Great leader. Great teammate. Broke our playoff victory drought with him at QB. Great guy. Sad to see his horrible injury last year.

zulu trader
zulu trader

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Pelletman
Pelletman

Here are the QB’s taken in the 2013 NFL draft:

1 16 Buffalo Bills EJ Manuel QB Florida State ACC from St. Louis [R1 – 5]
2 39 New York Jets Geno Smith QB West Virginia Big 12
3 73 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Glennon QB N.C. State ACC
4 98 Philadelphia Eagles Matt Barkley QB USC Pac-12 from Jacksonville [R4 – 1]
4 110 New York Giants Ryan Nassib QB Syracuse Big East from San Diego via Arizona [R4 – 8]
4 112 Oakland Raiders Tyler Wilson QB Arkansas SEC from Tampa Bay [R4 – 10]
4 115 Pittsburgh Steelers Landry Jones QB Oklahoma Big 12
7 221 San Diego Chargers Brad Sorensen QB Southern Utah Big Sky
7 234 Denver Broncos Zac Dysert QB Miami (OH) MAC
7 237 San Francisco 49ers B. J. Daniels QB South Florida Big East
7* 249 Atlanta Falcons Sean Renfree QB Duke ACC

All garbage, think how much more set back we’d be if we didn’t pair Alex with Andy for those transformative years? Alex might go down as one of the most influential Chiefs QBs in our history. He really helped right the ship. Remember, we just had Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn battling it out at QB in a 2-14 season.

upamtn

that’s one brutal list … hell, I’d have traded for AS11 myself all things considered

EAFOX

Alex Smith was good for the Chiefs – remember the debacle before him. Is anyone suggesting that Alex never gave everything he had to try and be successful? Not his fault that he was followed by a great quarterback – Smith was the best option we had at the time.

zulu trader
zulu trader

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StramtoReid
StramtoReid

It seems everyone on the AG has an opinion on Alex, I know a few people were upset with the Alex trade, I believe most people thought PM#15 would sit one year, and we would trade Alex the next year. After the Denver game in PM#15 rookie season, your an idiot if you didn’t know the Chiefs were going to trade Alex.

I know i can’t change the minds of the fans who dislike Alex. I’m proud of the job he did for the Chiefs and I hope he enjoys the money from his contract from the Redskins. I’m just glad he is making more money than Kaepernick.

upamtn

agreed, and I’d wager that he taught Mahomes a whole lot more than any of us could imagine … gracefully, selflessly, professionally

probablyamistake
probablyamistake

Alex who? 😉

Berserker

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workingmansdead

Sonofa

starry1

Meh, he was our best option at the time. I’d say we held onto him for too long, but Patrick.

Rogue Chief
Rogue Chief

I’d say we held on to him just long enough… Trade two 2’s for him and got back a 3rd and Fuller, let alone the team was much more competetive than the previous ones.

Armychiefj
Armychiefj

I don’t disagree. I was only occasionally on the AS11 hatewagon. But I was high on Carr coming out of the draft and if we hadn’t traded for AS, we would have been able to get him in 2014. Carr’s failings seem a little like AS11 early on with lots of different coaches, OCs, etc. He also hasn’t been the same since the leg fracture. I think he would have been much better under Reid than he has as a Raider.

All that said, there is no version of reality in which Carr > Mahomes. So I consider all the suffering of the past 25 years prior to that blessed event to have been worth it for the glory of the next 15.

NovaChiefs
NovaChiefs

Honestly, I didn’t read the article because I can’t believe that anyone who lived through the 5 years BEFORE Alex got here has any doubt that this is true. It was also the right thing to do to trade him away, although I admit to being concerned about it at the time.

MidKan Chiefs Lifer
MidKan Chiefs Lifer

I wasnt concerned about trading him so much because I never really thought he was going to take us to the SB (without a better defense). I really did think Mahomes had potential to be a star though nothing is really ever certain in the NFL. In the end I liked Alex but was ready to take the chance to get better.

zulu trader
zulu trader

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stjoechief

In 1862 a Senator was berating Abraham Lincoln about keeping General McClellan in command of the Union army despite his frustrating caution. Lincoln asked who he should put in command instead. The Senator said, “I don’t know. Anybody!” Lincoln replied, “Anybody might do for you, but I must have somebody”

That’s sort of my attitude about acquiring QB’s. Is what’s available better than what we have?

Berserker

Seemed like lots of people weren’t sure Mahomes was better than Smith before we traded Smith. A lot of those people would’ve kept Smith. And, a lot of those people would probably be insisting that they were right to do so.

But it didn’t happen that way, we went with the relative unknown instead. And now all those who feared the unknown last summer, spent this summer clogging up the roads to St. Joe training camp.

WaywerdSon
WaywerdSon

I wasnt surprised or upset the Smith was traded when he was. I also would not have been surprised or upset if he had stayed another season. It was a matter of how well Mahomes had mastered the offense and the pro game. Turns out he only needed one season. And it really is a shame Smith’s career probably ends on that injury. He might get a look from someone but hes gonna be fighting the clock as much as other QBs on the market

Rogue Chief
Rogue Chief

Once the Denver game happened, I think most people could see that Mahomes was more than capable of leading this team.

Leaf
Leaf

despite his frustrating caution.

Lol that’s an understatement. That guy was so paranoid that he was out manned that he wouldn’t move even if he outnumbered the enemy 5:1

Berserker

So, Alex = McClellan, Carr = Grant (even some of the same drinky issues), and Mahomes = a Lee who landed on the right side?

BleedingRedAndGold

Doing it across the lines, I’d say that Thomas J. Jackson (without all the nasty quirks) is a better comparison than Lee. Also, comparing Grant to Carr is a burning hawt taek, because he was a far better general than conventional wisdom gives him credit for.

And before anyone pops off the tired line about Grant winning “only because of superior numbers”, I’ll point out that every general who commanded the Army of the Potomac also enjoyed a numerical advantage – and they got troops killed while accomplishing jack squat, to put it bluntly.

Berserker

Seems like you’re assuming that I’m assuming Carr sucks.

Grant got the job done. He was just about the best choice, absent the possibility of an elite choice.

BleedingRedAndGold

No, that’s my take on Carr, because I don’t think he’s the sort of capable, determined lead that Grant was. Grant also handled his subordinate generals better than anyone other than Lee. Carr hasn’t shown any signs of that that I can see. As for Jackson over Lee for Mahomes, Jackson made Lee’s reputation for bold maneuvers, and would have been a better overall commander, if he’d had Lee’s people skills.

Mahomes is a wizard of tactics and maneuver, and you never quite know when he’s going to strike – you just know that when he does, the most likely outcome is victory. Or if you prefer you could use Sherman, but while he was good, he wasn’t quite as brilliant as Jackson. (Yes, I do have some pretty firm opinions about the Civil War, why do you ask? lol)

Leaf
Leaf

I don’t know about Jackson being better then Lee to lead the entire army. More aggressive, sure. But that doesn’t always mean more success, even if you had some prior.

CHIEFSandSABRES

Sherman was pretty brutal, and that is keeping it nicely.

Leaf
Leaf

True, but he probably understood modern warfare better than anyone else in the war. Even the greats were playing mainly by 18th century tactics.

CHIEFSandSABRES

Agreed.

Chickennpickles
Chickennpickles

Let’s just hope Patrick doesn’t get sacked by his own men while reconnoitering the line of scrimmage…

Leaf
Leaf

Lee was a great strategist that sometimes got a bit too confident in his plan and what his men were capable of (see Gettysburg). Much like Andy 😜. Mahomes would be like you said, more suited to either Stonewall or Forest. Those guy’s had a knack for seeing how the battlefield was unfolding and could react accordingly.

As you said Grant was a better general then he is given credit for, but he wasn’t a genius. More capable and given a shit ton of superior resources. Alex Smith would be a great analogy, if he was more aggressive. Grant was one tenacious son of a bitch that just keep coming. Mistakes didn’t phase him in the least.

CHIEFSandSABRES

The Civil War and Chiefs. Two of my most favorite things actually happening at my favorite spot. I love this place.

Leaf
Leaf

Lol I was debating with someone a few weeks back and it got to a point were I just didn’t have an answer to his rebuttal. so I’ve been binge watching some docs of late. Fascinating stuff.

CHIEFSandSABRES

Civilwartalk.com great source.

Sudden
Sudden

Also wustl:
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WaywerdSon
WaywerdSon

Watching Jennifer Aniston strip was well worth sitting through the rest of that one

ArrowheadRed
ArrowheadRed

You can thank Brett Veach. I personally witnessed Veach selling Chiefs staff on Mahomes in the fall of 2016.

pompano
pompano

A frustrating QB at times, but overall decent to good to really good at times.
Both sides of TSW were fighting the middle…

zulu trader
zulu trader

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3rdnlong
3rdnlong

And I remember when so many Chiefs fans were hoping to end all hopes that we would draft Geno Smith and he would lead us to victory. So glad we didn’t.

ArrowheadRed
ArrowheadRed

As if things would have turned out any differently if Geno Smith had been drafted.

3rdnlong
3rdnlong

I don’t think Geno would have lasted within 3 years here.

Chickennpickles
Chickennpickles

Sweet Jesus. I was never in favor of that. Geno gave me bad vibes. Tbh, most high pick QBs do. I think a lot owners & GMs manage to convince themselves that they can make a guy work, despite a lot of film evidence that proves otherwise. I understand you have to make the leap eventually, but so many of these guys get picked & it feels like nobody must’ve watched the film.

slackator
slackator

I see from the Tweet tracker its apparently National Joke Day, and that headline is the best one yet. Great job Tony, youre hilarious

BDChiefsFan

in hindsight, Alex Smith was the right choice for the chiefs.

Palmer has only ever won 1 playoff game, and that also required overtime. Wentz was out of reach. Jury is still out on Goff. Tyrod Taylor is a cheaper but worse Alex Smith. No one saw Dak Prescott coming, but his ceiling his Alex Smith, maybe a little better. Bradford is not a good winning QB.

in hindsight again, Alex Smith was the right choice for the chiefs.