The Kansas City Chiefs traded quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins for a third-round draft pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller on Tuesday. The deal will not technically go through until March, at the beginning of the 2018-2019 NFL season.
National media outlets immediately began praising Chiefs’ general manager Brett Veach for robbing Washington of a good pick and a very good player for a decent quarterback. Upon further inspection, that opinion may not hold up.
Smith was one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks last season, he led the league with a QBR of 104.7. QBR is a combination of completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown passes per attempt and interceptions per attempt. (Note: this is NOT ESPN’s bogus Total QBR stat.)
He had a better TD-Interception ratio than the Patriot’s Tom Brady, widely regarded as the best quarterback in the league last season.
The idea that Smith is merely an average quarterback is absolutely incorrect. He may not be elite, but he is definitely one of the top players at the position in the NFL.
So, here’s what is happening in Kansas City: Veach has mortgaged the next several years on the arm of an unproven player going into his second season.
Sure, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is an exciting prospect, he’s been compared to a young Brett Farve, but I also see a lot of free-agent and NFL bust Johnny Manziel in him.
Mahomes has a very strong arm, but he has a tendency to just throw the ball up and hope for a miracle. That tendency made for some pretty impressive college highlights, but that likely will now work in the faster, smarter NFL.
Mahomes made his first career start against the Denver Broncos in the last game of the regular season this year. He went 22-35 for 284 yards and an interception. That interception was an example of the “prayer throw” that I referenced earlier.
Ultimately, the only people who really know if Mahomes is ready for a full NFL season are the Chiefs’ coaching staff and Mahomes himself.
The really disturbing part of this trade is that it comes in the middle of Kansas City’s opportunity to compete.
Running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill are both still on cheap rookie contracts and tight end Travis Kelce is in the height of his prime. This is precisely the wrong time to make a move for the future, unless Mahomes can compete right away.
Veach is wasting a couple years of this window on a project quarterback, and with how grueling the sport can be, we can’t be certain that those weapons will be around if and when Mahomes is good enough to make a Super Bowl push.
I think that in five years, when Smith’s new contract extension expires, we can really get an idea of how good of a trade this is. Mahomes will have time to adjust, Fuller will have a chance to extend his success, Smith will have just and we’ll see four seasons of the Chiefs’ draft pick.
Until then, let’s pump the breaks on the praise and be cautiously optimistic about the Chief’s future. We could be walking blindly into the same position as the Cleveland Browns.
Nathan Enserro is a sophomore in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.