Alex Smith's season -- and probably his career in Kansas City -- ended on Saturday night with a devastating playoff loss. Even though he was one of the NFL's top passers this season, he likely will be traded because of too many empty Januarys and because his young understudy, Patrick Mahomes, is viewed as a budding star.
The New York Jets, mulling several quarterback options as they attempt to fix a 40-year-old problem, could be one of his suitors. There are some things to like about Smith, who would be ideal in John Morton's short-passing scheme, but he'd be a bad fit for reasons beyond X's and O's. It would be a mistake if the Jets target him as their quarterback savior.
Smith is a tweener, meaning he's better than your average Band-Aid but too old (34 next season) to be a long-term solution for a rebuilding franchise such as the Jets. Based on pure talent, yes, he'd be an upgrade, probably their best quarterback since Brett Favre in 2008 -- well, the pre-December Favre. But the Smith situation is complicated; it's not simply a talent thing.
Three reasons why the Jets should not target Smith:
1. Potential compensation: In 2013, the Chiefs acquired Smith from the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick in the 2013 draft and a conditional 2014 pick that turned into a second-rounder. Since then, Smith (50-26 as a starter) has done nothing to diminish his value, so you can be sure the Chiefs will be looking for something similar in a trade.
The Jets, it just so happens, own a pair of second-round picks in the upcoming draft but have so many needs that it would be a mistake to part with two premium picks for a 34-year-old player. If they're willing to deal picks, they should do it to move up for one of the top signal-callers in the draft -- a better long-term investment than trying to squeeze magic out of a recycled quarterback.
2. The contract: Smith isn't a free agent; he's signed for 2018 at $14.5 million in base pay. It would make no sense to surrender a high draft pick for a potential one-and-done player, so now you're talking about a contract extension in addition to the draft-pick compensation.
If you're going to shell out a three- or four-year contract with at least $30 million in guarantees for Smith ... heck, you might as well go all-in for Kirk Cousins. He'd cost a lot more, but he's four years younger than Smith and is a pending free agent, meaning they'd be able to keep their draft picks.
In his season-ending sit-down with reporters, acting owner Christopher Johnson made it clear he's not interested in quick fixes. As he said, "We'd never go all-in on something that would only last us a year or two."
To me, that's Smith.
3. His upside: We've seen the best of Smith, who never will play as efficiently as he did this season. He posted a league-high 104.7 passer rating with 26 touchdown passes, only five interceptions and 4,042 yards. If the Chiefs hadn't collapsed in the second half of the season, he'd be in the MVP conversation.
Clearly, Smith benefited from having three of the most explosive players in the league -- Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. It's the perfect situation for a quarterback. The Jets are ... um, imperfect. Their skill-position talent isn't anywhere close to that of the Chiefs, and it'll take some time before it gets there.
Lastly, it's hard to ignore Smith's career postseason record (2-5). Saturday night's loss to the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round wasn't his fault -- he played well enough to win -- but he hasn't been a championship-caliber quarterback throughout his career. He could get the Jets to a wild card, but they should have bigger dreams than that.
Smith is a good player. But not a good fit for the Jets.