The biggest story in the AFC West heading into the new league year will be to see where the Kansas City Chiefs find their new starting quarterback.
We may have an answer soon. Quarterbacks have worked out at the NFL combine and the NFL league season starts March 12. The Chiefs can either then trade for a veteran or sign one. Let’s look at the options as the Andy Reid era in Kansas City begins with a big decision:
CURRENT NFL PLAYERS
I am listing these players first because even though the Chiefs have the No. 1 pick, I think they are leaning toward pursuing a veteran.
Alex Smith, San Francisco:
Why he fits: Several recent reports have identified the Chiefs as Smith’s greatest pursuer. Getting the former 49ers’ starter will probably require a trade instead of waiting for him to be cut. I think it may be worth it since he may be the best fit of all of the available quarterbacks this year. He is not perfect, but he could be a good bridge quarterback for a year or two while the Chiefs wait for a better option. Smith has shown he can be a part of a quality team. He is smart and he has played winning football. With good coaching and a solid unit around him, I think Smith can help the Chiefs win games.
Why he doesn’t fit: He is not going to wow anyone and is probably not a long-term answer. He also probably reminds too many people of outgoing Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel. Smith also can’t win games alone on a regular basis.
Nick Foles, Philadelphia:
Why he fits: Reid drafted him in the third round last year and made him his starter. There has been a report that stated the Chiefs have asked about Foles. I think it is worth Reid’s time to pursue him. They made good headway together last year and it could be interesting to see the relationship continue. If Foles can develop, he can be a long-term answer. How many other veterans on this list can that be said about?
Why he doesn’t fit: As of now, the Eagles are maintaining he is not available. But that could change since he doesn’t seem like a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. If the Chiefs’ compensation package is tempting, I can see the Eagles letting go of Foles. It wouldn't be smart to keep a quarterback who doesn’t fit a system instead of getting an additional draft pick to go after a player who does.
Matt Flynn, Seattle
Why he fits: Flynn is a West Coast offense quarterback who came from Green Bay. He was there with new Kansas City general manager John Dorsey. Flynn doesn’t fit anymore in Seattle, but he can develop into a decent player. If the price tag and Flynn’s salary are right (both should be), it could be worth giving Flynn a flier as a backup option to Smith and Foles. It’s not a great year for quarterbacks. Sometimes, teams have to take chances. This would be a low-risk chance and he fits the team's needs.
Why he doesn’t fit: There is a chance the Chiefs may have to go find another quarterback next year if Flynn is acquired.
Summary: This isn’t a great list and there are no guarantees everyone on this list will be available. Palmer’s availability will be a longshot. Guys like Mallett and Weeden could be intriguing because they both have a chance to develop even though Weeden is already 29.
Geno Smith, West Virginia:
Why he fits: I put Smith on the favorite list along with Alex Smith, Foles and Flynn. I’m not sure Smith will be worthy of the No. 1 pick, but there are some things to like about his game. Many scouts think he’d be a nice fit for Reid’s offense. He has all the tools and he is a good pocket passer who can get out and run. Of this entire rookie class, he looks like the best quarterback.
Why he doesn’t fit: He’s no sure thing and nothing sets a franchise back like blowing the No.1 pick. Geno Smith comes with risks.
Summary: I could see the Chiefs getting a veteran, adding a top player elsewhere in the draft and then taking a quarterback at No. 34 or No. 65 to develop. I think Barkley, Wilson, Bray and Manuel could all particularly interest the Chiefs. None of them may be the answer, but it could be worth getting them in the system and to try to develop them in a year where there is no such thing as a guarantee.