Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Feb 2013

Chiefs to Trade for Alex Smith

Hopefully this isn't another "Chip Kelly to the Browns!" thing. Jay Glazer is reporting that the 49ers and Chiefs have a done deal for Alex Smith, although it can't be announced for two weeks. Tim Kawakami on Twitter says that the 49ers will get a second-rounder this year and a similar pick in 2014. So the 49ers have 15 draft picks now for 2013. That should be interesting.

Smith has obviously been better than Matt Cassel over the last two seasons, but not over his entire career. Smith with Jim Harbaugh as the head coach looks a lot like Matt Cassel with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels as his coaches. There are two things that do clearly differentiate Smith from Cassel. First, Smith is not thought of as a deep thrower but he has a pretty good record on deep passes. In 2011, he ranked ninth in DVOA on passes over 16+ yards through the air. In 2012, he ranked 14th. Cassel was 36th in 2011 and 20th in 2012. In addition, Smith has an absurdly good record against big blitzes, even when he was poor otherwise. For some reason, he was slightly worse against big blitzes in his breakout 2011 season, but if we look at 2009-2012 combined, we find Smith with 5.9 net yards per play against 3-5 pass rushers but 7.6 net yards per play against 6+ pass rushers. For 2012, those numbers are 5.7 and 11.2, respectively.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 27 Feb 2013

108 comments, Last at 15 Mar 2013, 5:43am by Mr Shush


by Jimmy :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 1:13pm

If I had fifteen picks I would trade as many of them back to next season as possible in order to have the ammunition to move to the top of the draft and take Clowney.

Presumably it is a third in 2014 which turns into a second if they make the playoffs.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 1:13pm

Nice! Now we'll see what Alex Smith is really worth. I think I said a 4th in the other thread, but it looks like it will be more than that.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Zach (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 1:17pm

I wonder if this will have any effect on the market (if there is much of one) for Matt Flynn.

by galactic_dev :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:15pm

Poor Matt Flynn will just have to make his millions while holding a clipboard for Shorty. If he couldn't beat out a short rookie QB in training camp, he's probably not going to get lots of offers from other teams.

by Zach (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 9:08pm

Um, a short rookie QB who tied the rookie record for TD passes, ranked 8th in DYAR and 6th in DVOA. That's almost as silly as holding it against him that he could beat out Aaron Rodgers...

by RickD :: Fri, 03/01/2013 - 10:48am

Yes, I would have thought the "couldn't beat out a short rookie"! argument died several months ago. That Wilson kid is pretty good.

by caw :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 1:20pm

Sounds like a 2nd this year and a conditional pick next year. I expected Smith to be traded for a 3rd or 4th, so clearly I know nothing.

by nat :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 1:48pm

A minor nitpick for Aaron:
If you are going to compare Alex Smith to Matt Cassel at his best, you need to use his 2010 season, not 2008. You know, the year he got to the playoffs, was a Pro Bowl alternate, and had his best FO stats.

It's clear you are aware of the 2010 season, since you cut off the comparison at two years instead of three. And since this article is about a trade involving the Chiefs, it makes even more sense to talk about 2010. Plus, 2010 is more recent and thus more relevant, anyway.

Not every article has to be about the Patriots, you know.

by Aaron Schatz :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:28pm

This is the kind of comment that discourages me from ever trying to quickly write up a little bit of analysis to share with readers.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:46pm

I get it, but since you're interacting with all kinds of readers, it's bound to happen. On the other hand, many of us enjoy those bits of analysis very much, as pieces of a bigger puzzle that you guys aren't expected to solve in one go.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 3:16pm

It does raise the question of how important is coaching and schemes that fit your Quarterback to their success. I noticed Chad Henne was modestly effective in Miami (Dvoa hovering arund 0) and absolutely dreadful in Jacksonville. Does this give hope that Gabbert isn't completely done or that scrap heap guys like Henne or Cassel could potentially with the right system at least get you replacement level output? Is it actually possible to figure out "system" QBs from non-system QBs?

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 3:32pm

I think its a combination of scheme and the talent around you. Miami last year had Brandon Marshall with a MUCH better offensive line.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 3:51pm

I wouldn't say a much better offensive line. They had Colombo at RT, the equivalent of hole in the zone for OL.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Will :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 7:51pm

If he was the equivalent to "hole in the zone", what did the Cardinals have at tackle last year? Extra pass rushers?


by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 8:40pm

That was way more serious than tackle hole in the zone (hole in the line?).
It was a hole in the space-time continuum.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by turbohappy :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:59am

The tackle equivalent of Jason David on the Saints.

by td (not verified) :: Fri, 03/01/2013 - 2:00am

i can't express how much worse guy whimper was than anybody miami had. columbo might have been washed up, but whimper never belonged in the nfl

by LA Charger (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:08pm

Oh boo-hoo Aaron. This is a for-profit site. You're not doing this as a public service.

There was some justified criticism of your data set chosen (with some extra mustard about the Patriots, but your skin isn't THAT think is it?) - as some who criticizes others' use of statistics with more than undercurrent of arrogance, you should be able to take a (justified) punch now and then.

by JonFrum :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:16pm

Gotta agree - the gee whiz, poor little me act doesn't cut it when you've shown yourself willing to throw rocks at others. If you can't take a poke now and then, you're in the wrong business.

by countertorque :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 1:46pm


by RickD :: Fri, 03/01/2013 - 10:59am

You really think "Not everything has to be about the Patriots" counts as a (justified) punch?

by nat :: Fri, 03/01/2013 - 8:08pm

It was a shorthand way of calling him out for forcing the data to fit the equation "Smith + Harbaugh = Cassel + Belichick & McDaniels" by treating Cassel's best year as if it didn't exist. Because "Smith + Harbaugh = Cassel + Belichick & McDaniels" is sexier than "Smith + Harbaugh = Cassel some years but not others", but less true.

So, yes, it was justified, if you don't take the hyperbole of "not everything" literally.

But really, Aaron doesn't deserve a ton of grief for trolling his own board in this mild way, just a nitpick, which he got, to say "we saw what you tried to sneak in there, Aaron." I like it that he drops his usual rigor and tries to provoke now and then. He probably needn't take umbrage when we catch him at it. But it's no big deal if he does.

by nat :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:30pm

Sorry. I didn't mean to be harsh. Don't be discouraged.

But, yes, I do mean that you'd have been better off leaving the Belichick year out of the discussion. Not because it didn't happen, but because it's a distraction. And because a lot of fans have completely forgotten that 2008 was only Cassel's second-best year as a pro.

Ah, well. I did say it was a nitpick. It's not a big deal.

by fb29 :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 5:16pm

But also the kind of comment that reinforces that you need to read Aaron's posts and the comments

by BroncosGuyAgain :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 9:04pm

He prefaces the comment as a "minor nitpick" for goodnessakes. And his criticism is fair, objective and reasonable (albeit with a gratuitous Patriots cheapshot). Maybe you should be discouraged. This post seems to imply that your quick analysis is an extraordinary gift bestowed upon the readers. Perhaps the thankless, slobbering masses under-appreciate your efforts with an irrational expectation of quality. How unlucky for you.

by nat :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:15pm

Wow, that's a lot of comments cascading off my nitpick and Aaron's response.

Jeez, guys. It was just a small nitpick and just a minor kvetch in return. I kinda like it that Aaron sometimes posts like a commenter rather than the site author. He doesn't deserve this much grief for doing so, even if I disagree with his specific complaint.

As for the topic, I'd say that 2008 and 2010 together show that Cassel is capable of playing at Smith's level. That Cassel can't maintain his performance close to that level has always been a mystery to me. Were those years flukes, or are the flukes 2009, 11, and 12? Was he on track to be a solidly middling QB and then lose his focus somehow? Was he badly coached? Was he impaired by injury? Or is he just bad?

There is some risk that Smith's past performance is also a fluke. But it looks like the Chiefs are pretty much done with giving Cassel the benefit of the doubt. We'll see how long Smith lasts.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:53pm

You make your living doing this. Show some pride and do your work well.

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 7:06pm

He does do his work well.

He does not necessarily vet each and every offhand analysis comment he gives off the cuff in describing a news story on the "blog" section of the website for the possibility of misinterpretation or better statistical comparison. That would be silly.

If Smith is really as good as he was last year before he was benched, then this is a steal. 70% completions is not nothing, and his YPA was almost identical to Kaepernick's. He put up more DYAR in half a season than Flacco, Luck, Dalton, or Rivers did all year. He was on course for Eli Manning/Russell Wilson territory.

Now, we can argue about how good Smith will be in Kansas City, behind a less solid offensive line and arguably with weaker receivers. But KC had nothing at the position. Matt Cassell 2010 never showed his face once last season. And Alex Smith is a better chance at good quarterback play - especially in a WCO - than anything available at #34 this year.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:04pm

I was wondering what team would be stupid enough to trade for a QB who was going to be cut by his team anyway.

I guess we now know the answer.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:14pm

No reason the 9ers had to cut Smith. Kaep + Smith is still a lot less them most teams spend on their QBs.

by Jerry :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 7:10pm

There's no guarantee that he signs with Kansas City if the Niners release him. If the Chiefs think his remaining contract is a better deal for them than what they'd have to pay on the open market, it's worth the draft picks. (Of course, Smith's performance will ultimately determine whether or not it's a good trade.)

by RickD :: Fri, 03/01/2013 - 11:04am

Why would the 49ers cut Smith when they could trade him?

There was obviously going to be a market for his services. You could trade a draft pick for him or you could cross your fingers and hope everybody else is as cheap as you are.

This is a competitive league. Expecting a starting-level QB to be cut sounds like wishful thinking.

by zenbitz :: Fri, 03/01/2013 - 3:05pm

You are assuming the conclusion. But in this case, the correct conclusion, so I'll let it slide. Also, the assumption was not that he would NOT be traded, but that he wouldn't be traded for *much*.

There were really not many teams that are desperate for a starting-level QB for which a trade made sense:

1) Chiefs (obviously) - but if they liked Geno better than Alex then this trade doesn't get done.
2) Eagles - had already resigned Vick
3) Cardinals - have the Komparable (save 2012) Kolb and are in the division so less likely to work a deal (either way)
4) Jets - are capscrewed by Sanchez
5+) Browns, Jags, Bills, Vikes -- all have young guys they kinda like who are likely to be passable, or are so bad everywhere that a cromulent QB like Smith doesn't really get them near 8-8.

Between all those teams, it's not shocking that one of them was worried enough about the other guys not to make a move. I think what it might have come down to was that the Chiefs didn't want to get in a bidding war with the Cards... but I'd have thought the Niners not wanting him to end up on the Cards would drive his price down, not up.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:13pm

Another big difference between Cassell and Smith is that Smith has had a lot more playing time than Cassell did when the Chiefs traded for him. The've got to have a lot better idea what they're getting.

by Dan in Philly (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:17pm

When Chip Kelly said re-signing Vick was due in part to there being not a lot of other good QB options out there, this is what he had in mind - Vick for a year, or Smith for his contract less the picks.

by Carlos :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:21pm

a poor team working hard just to stand still. Smith is an upgrade on Cassell how?

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 3:42pm

My thought as well. I do think Smith is a little bit better, but still mediocre. It's unlikely (though not impossible) that he's going to morph into a franchise QB at this point in his career. Feels like treading water to me.

And what they gave up for him fits perfectly with the treading water mindset -- not small enough that you're just taking a flyer, but not big enough that you're really committing to him. Leaves a lot of room to hem and haw and create a QB controversy. I predict that next year at this time, KC will still be looking for a franchise QB.

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 6:31pm

I think Alex Smith is a lot more mobile than Cassel, otherwise, not that much difference.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:29pm

How? By 2012 stats, better completion percentage, lower interception rate, better QBR, better YPA. Practically the only way Smith isn't a better QB is sack rate.

That's how.

by AnonymousLee (not verified) :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:50pm

Unless Harbaugh also got traded, I wouldn't count on the 2011-2012 Alex Smith showing up. Too bad the chiefs decided to relearn the lesson of matt Cassel

by commissionerleaf :: Fri, 03/01/2013 - 6:31pm

Andy Reid has a pretty good track record developing quarterbacks. Even if you include Michael Vick, his performance in Philadelphia - as a passer - was light years ahead of his performance in Atlanta. At an age when most quarterbacks decline (especially running quarterbacks), and after having been out of football.

by bravehoptoad :: Fri, 03/01/2013 - 6:36pm

2nd half 2010 Alex Smith was almost as good, and that was with the Singletary/Raye handicap.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:25pm

Can you provide a link for the 49ers draft pick tally, Aaron? It's starting to bother me that FO staff consistently quote 14 as the number of 49er draft picks, while everywhere I look on the net I see 11. What is this all about?

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by jimbohead :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:27pm

The niners expect 3 compensatory picks for free agents leaving in the 2012 offseason, I believe. Here's a fansite link.


by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:29pm

Thanks, jimbo.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:28pm

Ok, I've found an explanation elsewhere about 14 being an "expected" number of picks after awarding compensatory picks. I wasn't aware compensatory picks could be tallied so precisely.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Dean :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:50pm

I am absolutely astonished at the return the 49ers got for Smith. As promised a few weeks ago, a big tip of the hat to the 49ers Front Office for getting so much in return.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 6:14pm

OK, Dean's gone first, bless him. The others can line up to chow some crow here, you know who you are ;-)

(Most of the folks I was arguing with were suggesting that Smith was worthless because a- he was getting cut anyway, which didn't make sense as long as at least two teams wanted him or b- worthless as a confirmed average quarterback teams as teams would only trade for upside, which ignores that he is at least proven to be average and so less risky or suggests that every team that has traded for a qb is utterly deluded in thinking they're getting a top five player.)

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 7:30pm

Yup, it seems like you were right! I do reserve the right to beat the Chief's horse until it's dead, and then some, if Smith doesn't live up to the price that was paid. But that still won't change the fact that you were right.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 7:33pm

I am more curious to ask Karl, in a vaccum, is smith worth the first pick in the 2nd round? We can all agree he's not out of the league bad, but seriously, pick 34 good?

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 7:37pm

Yup, you were right, and we were wrong.

But not as wrong as I think the Chiefs front office are . . .

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 4:29am

That's remarkably polite of you all, I was only kidding.

My view on Smith is that he's about average. When his supporting players and coaches were bad, he was bad and when they were good so was Smith.

Historically a 2nd round pick becomes a starter about 30% of the time, surely it's worth it to trade even a high second for a relatively proven average starter at the most vital position in the game?

However, I don't think the niners would have been able to do this trade in either of the previous two years when decent rookie qb prospects were much thicker on the ground.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 5:40am

I think for any team that isn't loaded at almost every other position, in the long run it's better to take a longer shot at upgrading from below average to actively very good than a higher probability of upgrading from below average to average, especially as the rookie would be a lot cheaper in cap terms. Only slightly worse QBs than Smith (Kyle Orton?) come a lot cheaper in terms of picks and salary.

The Chase Daniel acquisition, on the other hand, I like. I think that guy has a real chance of being very useful in the right system (which Reid's may well be) and doesn't cost much at all.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:31pm

Why? Smith was a good starting quarterback. That's not worth a second round pick?

by RickD :: Fri, 03/01/2013 - 11:15am

I wonder who is supposed to be available in the 2nd round that could start at QB this year.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 5:43am

There may well not have been a long term solution at quarterback available this year full stop. That's a very good reason to allocate your resources elsewhere for now, let Daniel and Cassel compete for the starting job, draft someone later on who you think might have a chance of developing, and return to the problem next year when the market may be friendlier.

by zenbitz :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:55pm

but who was the second team? Cardinals? That might SUPRESS his value to the Chiefs because they know that the Niners don't want to let him fall to Arizona.

Browns I guess.

by rewdog10 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 2:57pm

I'm assuming the 49ers are going to trade some of these picks to move up in the draft. LaMichael James and the WR they took in the first round barely even saw the field last year.

by Go pats (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 3:13pm

James came on at the end of the year so I think they are ok with him but the wr Jenkins, well lets see what happens. They need to worry about getting a good DL to take over from Justin smith and more defensive depth as well as help in the secondary.

by ChuckC (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 3:14pm

James did fine as the secondary RB once Kendall Hunter got hurt. Once Gore wears down, I could see Hunter and James being the two primary ballcarriers without a terrible dropoff.

Jenkins... well he has a lot of work to do.

by dryheat :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 3:33pm

I don't know what their cap situation is, but Darrelle Revis could sure help this team. They should offer the Jets the Chiefs pick and maybe a 6th.

by Box :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 4:40am

They don´t have the cap space to extend him if they don´t let a lot of other good players go the next few years so it would be an expensive rental. And I think he has said that he would hold out without a new deal.
Niners will be better of getting a couple of good corners in the draft and develop them.

by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 3:08pm

I'm surprised that Andy Reid was comfortable trading a second-round pick for a QB, given that he has screwed over the Dolphins, Redskins, and Cardinals on the other side of similar trades over the years.

by BJR :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:01pm

As usual, these things do not occur in a vacuum. The Chiefs simply had to find a starting QB this offseason and any team in that situation is likely to have to pay above market value. So they've probably paid too much, but they haven't completely mortgaged their future, and they've got a player who might be able to provide the level of play they need to compete for a playoff spot with an otherwise decent roster in a fairly weak division/conference. And the options available to them this offseason were severely limited. The Chiefs must be cursing their luck that they were the worst team in the league last season rather than the season before.

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 3:34pm

I am simply baffled by this trade. Maybe 2nd rounder IS the going price for a mediocre to average starter, but that's basically what Smith is. How soon did people overlook that giants game this year, when the 49ers fell behind. Smith instantly three three picks because the team couldn't run the ball and he had to carry them back.

Sure, Smith is an upgrade over Quinn and (possibly) Cassell, but how much? In the end, hes got a pretty low ceiling and thats why the 49ers moved to Kap even though Smith's numbers looked pretty good. They knew, apparently Reid does not.

by Box :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 4:42am

How can you use just one game to judge him. He did fairly well against the Saints in the playoffs last year playing from behind.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:35pm

10th in DVOA and 7th in QBR. That's pretty high for a "low" ceiling.

by Anonymous Jones :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 3:46pm

Seems like a lot of people think a high second rounder is too much for a QB with a rating over 90 the last two years and a reasonable contract?

[contracts, not players, are the assets traded, of course]

I guess we can all assign value in our own little vacuums, but generally people in established markets look to comps to generate a baseline on which to judge.

So...Carson Palmer trade to Oakland...1st rounder and another pick the next year (2d rounder, unless upgraded to another 1st) for a player that hadn't had a QB rating over 87 in over four years and who was at the very least fully compensated (much higher raw numbers and higher guarantees than for Smith).

So...Kevin Kolb trade to Arizona...2d rounder and DRC for a player with little track record (and even less success) in order to sign the player to a contract with $21MM in guarantees.

So...Matt Flynn signing in Seattle...$10MM in guarantees for a QB who had basically played one (very good) game the year before. [not a trade, but an indication of the type of value you have to surrender in order to entice (even an inexperienced) free agent]

I guess it's just me, but the comps seem to indicate that it was the Chiefs, not the 49ers, that got the better of this deal.

Of course, the response is probably going to be that I've just highlighted the stupidest trades, but that's not really an adequate counterargument to anyone who understands the "winner's curse." The market value for assets like these are always established by the most aggressive (sometimes stupidest) bidder. The way I see it, the Chiefs were lucky someone didn't make a bid like we have seen in the past and now have a QB with confidence, an impressive, improving stat line, and a very reasonable contract.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:00pm

It's not that you highlighted the stupidest trades. In the other thread there already was this exact same discussion, and the reply was that all those players you mentioned were believed to have a big upside. It's hard to see the upside to Smith -if anything, he should play worse with a diminished supporting cast.

Btw, is anyone else seeing the text rendered here on the site as from an old typing machine? You know, with blank spots in some letters where the ink didn't take well? It's pretty odd.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Dean :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:02pm

This is where people who care way too much about the internet will start judging your choice of web browser.

(and to answer your question, no, mine looks normal)

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:03pm

Whoa! I took a screenshot so you guys could see, and the text fixed itself! Really, really odd. I'm on Firefox, by the way.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 7:07pm

Of the trades you highlighted... Noah hit it on the head...the others had much higher upside potential. Cassel was a first year starter in NE and looked crazy good in the 2nd half of the year. Flynn looked good in limited snaps and Kolb did as well(though you had probably squint to see it). Smith is more or less a known quantity at this point. Sure, there COULD be some upside, but its hardly in the same ballpark as flynn or cassell looked in their debuts.

Finally- only the carson palmer trade was horrendously stupid. The raiders should never have made that trade and the only reason they did was because Hugh Jackson was so desperate to make the playoffs after Campbell got hurt. That was just a mindbogglingly horrible trade.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 7:34pm

Actually, many people -i.e., some people, a few people, or at least one person whose name I don't recall- thought Carson Palmer was one of the better QBs in the league at the time.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by theslothook :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 8:58pm

Sure, I don't think Palmer is that bad. Certainly nowhere near as bad as I think his numbers would say he is right now in oakland. The real issue was what they gave up for someone who was on the downside of his career with injury issues. Far cry from trading 2 first rounders for what was then a 3 yrd pro in Jay Cutler who had just made the probowl.

by Dean :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:00pm

Except that Alex Smith does not exist in a vacuum either. He had 90+ passer ratings throwing 18 times/game on 10 yard hooks to Vernon Davis.

Is he REALLY the guy to throw 35 bombs/game in an Andy Reid offense? The offense isn't going to flow through a running back anymore.

by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 6:03pm

Uh, the Chiefs have a pretty good running back. And not too long ago, Reid was one of the foremost short-pass aficionados in the league - that only changed when he got Vick and Desean Jackson.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 7:41pm

The Chiefs do indeed have a pretty good running back. But how much is Andy Reid going to give him the ball?

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 3:33am

I have two words for you my friend. They are Bryan. And Westbrook.

The point is that Jamaal Charles is a great Andy Reid back. All he needs is a consistently effective quarterback before the snap who can hit curls and slants and the occasional seam route.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 5:35am

I'm ready to be proved wrong, but I don't think Charles is or ever will be on Westbrook's level as a receiver. And Westbrook never got the volume of handoffs he probably should have.

by Box :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 4:45am

Reid prefers the WC with mostly shorter throws witch probably is one reason he thinks he can win with Alex.

by zenbitz :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:15pm

I guess the surprising thing (to me) isn't Smiths value in picks (which I can see is technically a high 2nd rounder) but rather that there was any value at all.

But my assumption was simply that that the Niners would cut him March 12th rather than pay his $8M cap hit.

So, either the Niners were going to keep him as a back up or managed to convince the Chiefs that they would. Or his FA price is really much > than $8M/year (which would also be surprising).

by QW (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:13pm

Poor KC. Giving up a #2 is incredible, much less a super high #2 for a QB who only had OK seasons while being protected with SB talent around him and 1 of if not the Best coach in the League.

The goal of every team should be to win the SB. What are the odds of KC building a team as good as SF around him anywhere in the near future (and even that wasnt enough to win the SB)? Additionally, it isnt like this is 1991 Favre who had least had lots of time for growth and potential when he was traded.

I can't imagine why KC would go for Smith over Flynn. Maybe Smith is safer (very debatable) but has much less upside than Flynn and is also 1 year older than Flynn. (Have a hard time believing SEA is wanting more than this for Flynn and would require a #1).

I am willing to give Reid the benefit of the doubt since his track record with QBs is very good, but i'll be stunned if he is any type of long term solution

by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 5:07pm

From the general consensus on Seahawks fan sites, not only would they have happily sent Flynn for #34 (not needing an additional 2014 pick), they would have sent Flynn and #56 (Seahawks' 2nd rounder) for it. But maybe the front office sees it differently, or maybe Andy Reid thinks Flynn is a big step down (or worse fit) from Smith.

by Tino (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 8:12pm

Seattle already used up all its QB-trading luck when they fleeced the Bears for a high 1st round pick in exchange for Rick Mirer.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 6:18pm

Teams have at least one other goal, to produce a good enough team to keep people interested to aid in selling tickets, jerseys and other team merchandise so that the owner can grow hugely rich and help to raise a thoroughly spoiled brood of snot-nosed brats.

by QW (not verified) :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 8:05pm

This trade doesn't seem to be accomplishing this either. Chiefs fans are enraged at the trade. look at some of the chiefs main websites, their fans sare melting down

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:41pm

Smiths recent seasons were much better than OK. Click the little "Statistics" link at the top of this page.

Okay, I'm game. How in the world is it debatable that Flynn would be a safer pick than Smith? The guy's started 2 games. Smith has started 77. Which do you think scouts will have a more reliable read on?

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 7:47pm

QW didn't say Flynn was safer, he said Smith is safer but Flynn has more upside. You see, the thing with all the stats that point to how good Smith is, is that they don't account for the fact that he usually threw the ball in very controlled situations. Being ahead most of the time and with the benefit of a strong running game and a strong defense allowed Smith to throw from a very advantageous position. It reminds me of something Waldman said in his article about Matt Barkley: there's QBs who can follow the script, and there's QBs who can improvise when the going gets tough. So far, Smith hasn't shown he can do the latter. And all indications are he'll have to if he wants to succeed in KC.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by bravehoptoad :: Fri, 03/01/2013 - 6:40pm

What does this mean to you?

Maybe Smith is safer (very debatable)....

That is NOT saying that Smith is safer and Flynn has more upside. That's saying that it's debatable whether Smith is safer or not.

Smith had good numbers in the later half of 2010, as well, when he wasn't ahead very often and the running game stunk. So, there's some indications that contradict you.

Besides, I have a hunch that Reid will be nearly as good at working with the limitations of his QB as Harbaugh was.

by MrBismarck :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 4:31pm

"Smith has an absurdly good record against big blitzes"

Does anyone need to send a big blitz to get to the QB in KC?

by Sifter :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 5:09pm

I predicted a lower value for Smith too...

I'm going to look at this trade from the 'glass half full' viewpoint for KC. The fact they traded for a solid veteran with limited upside (contrast with Flynn for example), tells me that Reid thinks KC isn't in bad shape. That corresponds with my examination of the rosters this offseason. KC doesn't seem to have the egregious holes that Oakland or Jacksonville has, they even have a bit of cap space to potentially keep most of their free agents. Sure, KC still has a few holes, every team does, but I would say there are definitely less holes than usual for a team picking #1. Makes you wonder what the hell Romeo was doing last year.

by Steve in WI :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 12:01pm

Yeah...it definitely seems like the Chiefs shouldn't have been a 2-14 team. I think they're decent enough that it's not crazy to go with a solid but not great QB for the time being, use the #1 pick on another position, and try to get a QB with a higher ceiling sometime down the road.

by Mike B. In Va :: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 5:12pm

You know, I can actually see this as a good thing, as long as they're smart enough to take a quality QB in next year's draft. Cassell is previous-administration toxic at this point, and Smith is at least as good.

The 2nd round pick hurts, but Smith is a better placeholder (and has more possible upside) in this situation.

Plus, this means he doesn't end up in Buffalo, where we already have a QB that can play decently when the talent around him is good. ;)

by MJK :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 12:03am

This is going to sound strange, but maybe KC is hoping that the closest comp for Smith isn't Palmer or Flynn or Cassel but... Brees.

Brees had a few mediocre-to-terrible years in San Diego, and suddenly looked good right after they drafted Rivers. The Chargers let him go, he went to the Saints because Miami was scared of his injury, and the Saints never looked back. It's true that he probalby had more upside than Smith, but he also had a huge potential downside in his injury.

And another thought on the upside thing... Smith is not a bad QB. He is a known quantity, and maybe we know he won't be the next Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but we pretty much know that he won't be the next Ryan Leaf or Jamarcus Russel, either. Only about a half dozen teams in the league can have elite QB's...the rest have to make due merely with good QB's...and even finding a "good" QB can be hard (ask the Raiders, Browns, Dolphins, Jaguars, etc., about that). Getting merely a "good" QB, which you pretty much know Smith is, in exchange for a 2nd round pick in a weak draft year is pretty decent.

For the record, the last 10 #34 picks:
Colby Fleener (TE)
Aaron Williams (DB)
Chris Cook (DB)
Patrick Chung (S)
Devin Thomas (WR)
Paul Posluszny (LB)
D'Qwell Jackson (LB)
Brodney Pool (DB)
Chris Snee (G)
Boss Bailey (LB)

One great player, about three decent players, and the rest were role-playing backups or worse. If I'm a team that needs a QB and there's no good prospects in the draft, then the only guys on that list that I would even think twice about trading straight up for Alex Smith are Posluszny, Jackson, and Snee...and I'd probably still pull the trigger for anyone but Posluszny.

by theslothook :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 1:50am

Is Smith a "good" qb at all though? What was the impression of Matt Cassel a few years ago. Certainly he wasn't a "bad" qb and look how quickly that flamed out. Again, I don't think we know what the true price of an average qb is. Maybe it is high 2nd round pick. The real issue is, are the chiefs deluding themselves into thinking they are now set at qb?

For the record, Alex Smith has proven he can excel on a team that has the best o line in football, good to great tight end, good to very good wide receiver in crabtree, and a great defense that not only keeps other teams off the scoreboard but also gets you excellent field position. Well...sure, if the chiefs can recreate those circumstances, then the Smith trade was a real winner. I personally think that sort of stuff is unsustainable for any team and given that, I don't feel smith is any different from matt cassel/kyle orton/jason campbell.

by greybeard :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:03am

I love how people re-write history.
In 2011 SF had one of the worst pass blocking OLine in the league with Chilo Rachal and terrible Davis. Crabtree was not not good then and injured for a while to top it off. There were no real second wide receiver, only a failed experiment with Edwards and for the first half of the season Vernon Davis did not have the command of the offense and was limited as a result which he said so in an interview. Smith played well that year, despite the team having a new coaching stuff after lockout. SF did not even have a good running game at that time.

Whether Smiths is a "good" QB or not, if you are not going to give him credit when his surrounding cast is good, then cut him some extremely huge slack for the previous 5 years when the surrounding cast was not good. Hell, the first three years of his career are some of the worst teams in the history of NFL.

by theslothook :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:47am

I watched a ton of 49er games in 2011. A few things to note: First of all, the Chilo Rachal only played 260 snaps, basically 1/3 the amount the other starters played. It was mostly done by the woeful snyder. Anthony davis may have been horrible as a rookie, but he was much better as a sophomore.

The rest of what you said is true to some extent, but exaggerated in others. Yes the 2nd wide receiver was a train wreck, but was the 49ers offensive line really as bad as you say it is? I don't think ti was ever cardinals, bears, or colts level bad.

And to make a further point, in the year when so many passing yardage records were being broken by record high number of pass attempts, the 49ers attempted the 2nd least pass attempts of any team in the league, save for the tim tebow led broncos. He also had one of the lowest deep pass percentages in the league in 2011- ranking 34 out 39 qbs and the 2nd lowest of any full time starter. They threw so little despite having a run game that was ranked 24th in dvoa. That to me says they were playing a game of hide the qb and win with defense, turnovers, and special teams. After all, there was a reason david akers broke the field goals made and attempted record that season.

by greybeard :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 3:15am

I watched all of the 49ers games since 2004 save 4 of them in 2007 when I was abroad. I watched all games, most of them twice, in 2011. Adam Snyder is an upgrade over Chilo Rachal but that speaks to how bad Chilo Rachal is. And Davis was Kwame Harris bad for most of the year, especially early on. I don't watch colts at all, and not much Bears and Cardinals. I don't know if 49ers Oline was that bad, but hey if they were 28th worst instead of 32nd worst that makes little difference.

Also, who cares what passing records were broken that year. 49ers won 14 games with their style in 2011. They did what they worked for them not what was popular. Of the 4 losses they had 2 were in overtime and one was by 2 points .It would have be idiotic for them to throw more given that what they had was working for them (also especially with the Oline and WRs they had, Kyle Williams is not a household name because of his receiving skills).

None of these stats you quote capture what he did well. Not turn the ball over. Read the defenses well and choose the right plays. Keep the possession and keep the defense fresh.

by theslothook :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 5:15am

I live in the bay area and all of my friends are 49er fans so I end up watching most of their games very closely. Chilo Rachal was a horrible trainwreck and so was Davis as a rookie, but not as a 2nd year pro. I would say he was a marginal starter as a 2nd year pro, but not kwame harris bad. According to pff, the 49ers were the 26th ranked pass blocking o line. Poor yes, but not 28th in the league.

For the record, not turning the ball over can be a poor way to judge a qb. Obviously, if he makes riskless throws repeatedly, he isn't going to turn the ball over. But that also doesn't mean he's going to be gaining as many yards or accumulating as many points offensively. The fact that the 49er defense got the most turnovers and gave the offense routinely great field position should not reflect anything on Smith's performance. The stats I quote are meant to capture circumstance and perspective. He didn't turn the ball over because by nature he isn't forced to make risky throws. David Carr didn't turn the ball over, he just chose to be sacked and throw checkdowns the whole time. I'll give smith credit for correctly audibling, but really, I think you are in the minority if you think Smith is anything above average.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:45pm

Dude, missing the point. Smith has also proven he can do well on a team that had a merely okay o-line (2011), and quibbling about the quality of Adam Snyder isn't going to change that.

This is a stats site. You might try using some of those in your judgements.

by Joe T. :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 9:30am

Montana, Bono, Grbac, Smith...

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:29pm

S. DeBerg

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 12:25pm

I know it's a slow time for football news. But if this trade doesn't happen as speculated, there are going to be a whole lot of foolish-looking sports journalists.

by jimbohead :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 12:41pm

I think a lot of the sentiment that "we know who Alex Smith is, and he's solidly below average" over-weights his first 6 years in the league without fully understanding the context. He was awful as a rookie on the worst team in DVOA history, forced in by multiple injuries at the position, had one good year in 2006 under Norv Turner, was on IR from training camp the year Mike Martz was there, and otherwise had offensive coordinators named Jim Hostler, Jimmy Raye, and Mike Johnson. During this time, his head coaches were Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary. He was below average in 2005 and 2008-10 due to complete organizational failure, a situation that likely won't repeat itself with Reid.

At this point, we do know who he is. He's an above average QB with a solid grasp of most offenses, the ability to avoid turnovers, some mobility, and a decent arm. He needs to be managed to be effective, but he can be very effective. He is no Matt Cassel.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:28pm

Huge Fab of Cheisf getting Alex smith instead of Geno Smith.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 2:42pm

I know it's conventional stats but I seem to recall working out that in his entire 7-8 year career he's only had two 300-yd passing games. His best is 310yds. That's it in this league?

But on the flipside Andy Reid has generally done a good job of preparing and using QBs. The Cardinals saw enough from his offense to take Kolb, a few years earlier the Dolphins took AJ Feeley for a 2nd rounder, Vick became a better QB/passer in Philly than he was in Atlanta. So I think maybe Smith will work out for him.

by necessary (not verified) :: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 3:56pm

The Chiefs are not a big market team. They need to appease their fanbase to sell tickets and stay solvent. The environment in KC is toxic right now. Fans are rebelling. They are on he verge of having potential multi season ticket holders through in the towel.

They need some stabilization. It's too much, but its not so much more then what I'd consider fair that its that bad given the situation.

by wr (not verified) :: Fri, 03/01/2013 - 3:17am

The Chiefs fans need not worry. They now have the godlike Andy Reid in charge
(obviously his last few Philly years can be ignored),and he will turn Smith into
something better than Montana, Marino, and Unitas combined. If you don't
believe me, just ask the ESPN bobbleheads.