Timing of Smith contract is added bonus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Alex Smith tried to put up a brave front as the summer dragged along without a contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs. Smith steadfastly maintained he was focused on preparing for the upcoming season and not on the negotiations.

Smith did an admirable sales job there, but still nobody believed him. And on Monday, less than 24 hours after putting his name on a four-year contract extension, Smith acknowledged his unsettled long-term situation had, in his word, “clutter’’ on his mind.

"I was really hoping it would get done before [the season],’’ Smith said. "I didn’t want to go into the regular season with that. As much as you don’t think about those types of things consciously, subconsciously you can’t help it. It sits in the back of your head that you’re playing for a contract. Sometimes it can be just an added distraction.’’

So it isn’t just a good move on the part of the Chiefs to lock up their quarterback for another four seasons after the end of this one. The timing works well, too.

Smith is getting paid well enough this year at $8 million to overlook any hassles he might have with his team over contract negotiations. Yet Smith made some uncharacteristic plays in his most recent preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, forcing two passes in the red zone, each winding up as an interception.

Maybe his contract situation was weighing on him there. Maybe he was just having a bad day. But if the Chiefs have put his mind at ease and he can be a better player for it this season, so much the better.

"It’s nice that it was a two-way street,’’ Smith said. "I wanted to be here and to have that reciprocated and to put it on paper ... it’s great.

"That kind of clutter is gone from your head and you can focus in and get ready for this week 1.’’