Would Alex Smith be opposed to playing in Cleveland in 2018?
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns have been linked to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith for a while, but what if Smith does not want to play in Cleveland?
The Cleveland Browns need a new starting quarterback for the 2018 season and, as fortune would have it, the team has a variety of options at its disposal.
The club could make it rain for Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency, handing a soon-to-be 30-year-old with zero playoff wins the richest contract in league history.
The Browns could also fill the void during the 2018 NFL Draft as they hold the No. 1 and No. 4 overall selections. With five possible quarterbacks in the discussion, there is nothing stopping the Browns from selecting the quarterback they want, if only that quarterback exists in this year’s draft class.
The final option is to swing a trade with a team looking to move on from a veteran quarterback because they have a younger, and cheaper, replacement waiting in the wings. (OK, keeping DeShone Kizer as the starter is technically an option, but not one the Browns are likely to consider.)
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That is where the Kansas City Chiefs and Alex Smith come into the picture.
Smith has been the starting quarterback in Kansas City for the past five seasons, throwing for 17,608 yards, 102 touchdowns and just 33 interceptions. He is entering the final year of his contract and is due to count for $20.6 million in cap space, according to spotrac.com, a number that is problematic for a Chiefs team that is $14 million and change over the projected salary cap for next season.
The Chiefs acquired Smith in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 and the architect of that deal was then-Kansas City general manager, who now holds the same position with the Browns.
Because of that connection, Smith and the Browns have been linked almost from the moment Dorsey was hired in December. The Browns need a quarterback, the Chiefs can save $17 million in cap space by trading Smith and they have Patrick Mahomes ready to go at quarterback.
Sounds like a perfect match, yes? Well, maybe not in the eyes of Smith, who was asked what he thought about coming to Cleveland by host Dan Patrick on his radio show on Tuesday:
"“I haven’t even thought about that. They’ve got nowhere to go but up. 1-31 over the last 2 years just sounds amazing.”"
Smith went on to add that, if he had a choice in the matter, he would want to go somewhere where success was an option, but also admitted that he has no control over the situation.
That puts the Browns and Smith in an interesting situation. If a trade was the on table, the fact that Dorsey wanted to trade for Smith twice would have to be a comforting thought for Smith. The Browns also have a solid offensive line, just hired a competent offensive coordinator in Todd Haley, and should be adding some nice pieces to the offense in free agency and the draft.
The downside is that the Browns still have Hue “1-31” Jackson as the head coach and may not be ready to win as quickly as Smith, who will turn 34 in May, would prefer. There is also the question on whether or not the Chiefs would trade Smith to the Browns if he truly did not want to come to Cleveland.
Next: Browns offensive line: Stay or go in 2018?
It is also speculation at this point, of course, and the reality is the Chiefs may be willing to find a way to make it work with Smith for one last season in Kansas City.
Which means, for the Browns, it is always good to have options.