Until this afternoon, most in the NFL world assumed that the rumored trade that would see the San Francisco 49ers ship quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs was all but a done deal.
Not so fast, say the Arizona Cardinals. (Maybe.)
Reports have emerged this afternoon that the Cardinals have jumped into the trade discussion and may be making a strong push to acquire Smith from their divisional rivals.
Despite losing his job to Colin Kaepernick in the latter portion of the 2012 NFL season and standing on the sidelines as his teammates went all the way to the Super Bowl, Smith is suddenly a bit of a hot commodity among quarterback-needy NFL teams. Truthfully, that probably has more to do with the weak quarterback class in the 2013 NFL Draft than it does with what Smith brings in terms of on-field attributes.
Many would call Smith the definition of a game manager with limited upside, but such a player can apparently look pretty appealing to franchises with depth charts as barren at the quarterback position as the Chiefs and Cardinals.
In Kansas City, new head coach Andy Reid holds the No. 1 pick in the draft and has Matt Cassel on his roster. Cassel is certainly done in KC and it looks like the Chiefs aren’t thrilled at the prospect of drafting a player like West Virginia’s Geno Smith first overall. Perhaps a more reasonable (and value-based) plan of attack for the franchise would be to acquire Smith, draft an offensive lineman (probably Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel) with the No. 1 pick and then draft and develop a quarterback for the future in a later round.
In Arizona, new head coach Bruce Arians’ Cardinals look to be interested in precisely the same strategy, though their draft slot — No. 7 — doesn’t offer quite as much flexibility. The Cardinals could go back to Kevin Kolb as their starter in 2013, but they absolutely must bring in some competition for him. Smith would provide that competition — and would almost certainly win the starting job.
Of course, all of this presumes that the Cardinals actually have any interest in Smith.
The 49ers probably don’t love the idea of doing a deal with an NFC West rival and these late-breaking rumors of the Cardinals’ jumping into the fray might be nothing more than a smokescreen from the 49ers. The fact that a deal hasn’t been done with the Chiefs already suggests that the two sides can’t agree on compensation and the belief that the another team is about to swoop in and get the man they want could be just what it takes for the Chiefs to finally meet the 49ers’ asking price.