17 Jul Kansas City Cashing Out Early
Patrick Mahomes beams with talent and upside. His oozing potential flashes regularly turning broken-plays into jaw-dropping touchdowns.
The perplexing part of the story isn’t with the player’s ability, but rather his destination. A perineal double-digit win team that has advanced to the final-eight of the NFL playoffs the previous two-seasons, Kansas City is on the precipice of knocking down that Super Bowl door.
Far be it for me to challenge the football acumen of Andy Reid – the man is a Hall of Fame coach and offensive genius which, in turn, only further contributes to my confusion. With a well-balanced team that finally uncovered two-players in an area the club desperately needed, (offensive game-breakers) it made sense to bolster the roster and narrow that gap with the New England Patriots.
Instead, Kansas City opted to draft a player who, by the Chiefs own admission, likely won’t see the field in 2017. Echoing those thoughts are the majority of draft-gurus that preferred Mahomes as a two-year project.
Daniel Jeremiah: “I love Mahomes’ upside and think he’s worth a second-round pick as a developmental quarterback… But it’s going to be a process, and it’s going to take some time before he’s ready to step onto an NFL field.”
Lance Zierlein: “He is going to drive his head coach crazy for the first couple of years and there is no getting around that. If it clicks for him and he’s coachable, I think he could become a special quarterback.”
While there are certainly instances where an established team could afford to invest its most substantial resources for the next two-seasons (first round draft choices), the Chiefs are not one of them.
Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Dee Ford, Marcus Peters – these are the makings of a core ready to carry the torch into the next era of Chiefs football. However, meshing that young skillset with veteran-players that produce on the field and in a leadership role is the quintessential recipe for a championship.
This organization-transforming move has the makings of creating a mutiny among players like Justin Houston, Eric Berry and, most prominently, Alex Smith. Smith will have zero part to do with teaching Mahomes how to take his job leaving the rookie solely reliant on drawing from coaching experience.
This move is not only the ultimate slap in the face to the quarterback that has performed at a high level for four years, but the team leaders that rely on quality quarterback play to achieve the ultimate goal of hoisting a Lombardi. That pipeline of young stars in Kansas City is put on hold for two years as the club will lean on free-agency and mid-round draft picks to provide immediate contributions.
Selecting a player with a high likelihood of becoming an immediate upgrade over the much-maligned Smith would’ve been a logical move. Staying at the 27th pick and sacrificing just one draft-selection to take Smith’s heir apparent is a logical move. Moving up the draft and reaching deep into the pocket to pay for it is a gamble – something the prominent franchises don’t do in this league.
Alex Smith takes a beating from most-anyone with a keyboard and a Twitter handle. The premature playoff exits of the previous two-years were placed squarely on his shoulders. While his performances in these games wasn’t up to snuff, the justification for drafting his replacement is simply a knee-jerk reaction.
Prior to the post-season, Smith played just four games that were significantly below the league median of the 2016 grading project. Seven of his 16 games were on par with the top-10 quarterbacks in the NFL and four of those games were on-par with the likes of Brady and Rodgers. His play was a catalyst in the Chiefs securing the AFC West and a first-round bye in the post-season.
Teams are willing to pay handsomely to secure a quarterback that can be dubbed the illustrious “franchise quarterback” title. Smith has played better than the majority of his peers for a number of years dating back to his days in San Francisco.
Mortgaging future draft picks for an organization that might be one or two players away from contending for a Super Bowl, while rostering a more-than-capable quarterback, will prove to be Andy Reid’s undoing in Kansas City.
Even if Mahomes pans out and is the player the Chiefs believe he is, the long-term approach wasn’t worth it. Kansas City effectively shortened the careers Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali by two years. Three of the organizations best players will surpass the prime of their careers moving passed the dreaded Mendoza-line of football, the 30-year-old mark.
The future of the Chiefs does figure to be bright with Mahomes, Kelce, Hill and Peters all young, potential-stars on cheap contracts. Subtracting Mahomes and adding an impact tailback or nose tackle would’ve pushed Kansas City much-closer to a Super Bowl.