Quarterback Alex Smith has a new home, as sources tell The Star that the Chiefs have reached agreement to trade their veteran starter of the last five seasons to Washington.
The Chiefs will receive a 2018 third-round pick and promising young cornerback Kendall Fuller in exchange, a source confirmed, though any trade involving Smith can’t be completed until the first day of the new league year, which begins at 3 p.m. on March 14. But the sources say the deal is in place and will definitely proceed.
Fuller, 22, was a third-round pick for Washington in 2016. He’s coming off a season in which he recorded 55 tackles, 10 passes defensed and four interceptions and emerged as one of the NFL’s best slot defenders.
Smith, 33, is coming off a stellar season in which he set career-highs in passing yards (4,042), touchdowns (26) and passer rating (104.7), throwing just five interceptions.
But Smith was entering the final year of his contract with the Chiefs, and he has a cap number of $20.6 million for 2018. By trading him, the club stands to save $15.6 million.
The deal also clears the way for 2017 first-round draft pick Patrick Mahomes to become the Chiefs’ new starting quarterback. Mahomes’ regular-season NFL debut, a 27-24 win over the Denver Broncos on Dec. 31, was a success.
Mahomes completed 22 of 35 passes for 284 yards with an interception in that game and showed poise while leading the Chiefs’ game-winning drive.
“I think he’s got what it takes, man,” Denver cornerback Aqib Talib said at the Pro Bowl. “He’s got a super strong arm, he can make all the throws. He made great reads in our game. I know we had a simple game plan on defense, but he made great reads and took control of the game.”
Talib said the Broncos were intent on blitzing Mahomes and playing man defense. But Mahomes made them pay.
“He just needs to keep at it, keep on studying, because this league is year-to-year, and you can be super-high one year and super down the next,” Talib said.
Indeed. But word has already spread around the league about Mahomes’ prodigious talent ahead of his debut as the Chiefs’ full-time starter.
“Patrick, everything I hear, he’s gonna be great,” Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said. “They love him in Kansas City.”
Hall of Famer receiver Cris Collinsworth agreed.
“(I heard) he’s like a secret weapon,” Collinsworth said.
Smith posted a 50-26 record as a starter since arriving in Kansas City from San Francisco for two second-round picks in 2013. He has made two straight Pro Bowl appearances.
Smith’s contract extension with Washington will be four years for $94 million, with $71 million in guaranteed money, according to a source with knowledge of the deal.
Adding Fuller is a win for the Chiefs, who had issues at the cornerback position opposite Marcus Peters in 2017. Opponents regularly avoided Peters and attacked a contingent of rotating corners that included Terrance Mitchell, Phillip Gaines, Steven Nelson and aging veteran Darrelle Revis.
Fuller still has two years left on his rookie deal and will count for just $647,500 against the Chiefs’ cap in 2018 and $750,000 in 2019. That, when combined with the projected cap number of $711,960 for the third-round pick they’ll receive from Washington, brings the club’s total cap savings on the deal to approximately $15.6 million.