Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) on the sidelines during the second quarter of the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Smith could get franchised if 'talks stay stagnant'

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Kansas City Chiefs franchise quarterback Alex Smith did a very good job last season of leading an offense that contained Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, and not much else. Donnie Avery wasn’t exactly a legitimate WR2, and Bowe is ideally WR2 instead of a No. 1 guy. Smith averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt and continues to carry the “game manager” tag as an insult, but he did do a great job of sitting back and not making critical mistakes. He finished his first season as the Chiefs QB with 23 touchdowns compared to just seven interceptions, as he did a solid job of moving the chains. The Chiefs disappointingly only made one significant upgrade at the skill positions by drafting De’Anthony Thomas, and that wasn’t a big enough move for a team starving for talented pass-catchers. Of course, the biggest addition for the Chiefs is a return from injury, as athletic “move” TE Travis Kelce was unable to play last season after initially being expected to make a significant impact as a rookie out of Cincinnati.

Right now, most of the talk surrounding Smith centers on questions regarding how long he’ll be in Kansas City, because he’s in need of an extension with his contract set to run out after this season. It’s not impossible for the Chiefs to walk away from Smith, but it would be highly unlikely. Not only is he a solid starting quarterback coming off of a season in which he helped lead the team to a big bounce-back, but teams also don’t leave themselves with an uncertain situation at quarterback when they can feasibly avoid it.

Unfortunately, talks between Smith and the Chiefs have been incredibly slow to this point, which has raised some more questions this offseason. I’m sure the Chiefs would like to extend both Smith and star outside linebacker Justin Houston, who did not attend OTAs yesterday and will also hit free agency in 2015, but they haven’t engaged in fierce talks with either (they’ve seemingly had more talks with Houston, though, even if they have a bigger need at QB).

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that there is unsurprisingly a higher chance of the Chiefs extending Smith closer to training camp than in late May, but the most interesting part of his report occurs when he states that the Chiefs are willing to slap the franchise tag on Smith if they can’t agree to an extension (per Rapoport, “if talks stay stagnant”). This isn’t surprising news either, but it’s important; it means that the Chiefs believe in Smith and will take strong measures to keep him around. Clark Hunt stated earlier this offseason that he wants to extend Smith, and I highly doubt that goal has changed. What is more murky, however, is the gap in perceived cost. How much do the Chiefs think Smith is worth, and how much does he think he’s worth?

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