Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith will head to the Pro Bowl in place of Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
This marks the second straight year Smith has made the Pro Bowl, which takes place Jan. 28 in Orlando.
Smith, 33, was originally named a Pro Bowl alternate behind Rivers, New England’s Tom Brady and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger after a season in which Smith set career-highs in passing yards (4,042), touchdowns (26) and passer rating (104.7).
Smith’s passer rating was higher than both Rivers’ (96.0) and Roethlisberger’s (93.4), and Smith officially gets the nod now that Rivers — who threw for more yards (4,515) and touchdowns (28) than Smith despite twice losing to him head-to-head — won’t be playing in the game.
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Smith is set to enter the final year of his contract with the Chiefs, in which he’ll have a cap number of $20.6 million.
The Chiefs can save $17 million by releasing or trading him, should they choose to turn to impressive rookie Patrick Mahomes as their starter at quarterback. But it’s something that couldn’t conceivably be done until the first day of the new league year, which begins at 3 p.m. on March 14.