Smith was mostly coy about what comes next. When asked plainly by Patrick where he believes he will be playing in the upcoming season, Smith said that “I got absolutely nothing for you,” in way of intel. He did note that he still has one more year under contract with the Chiefs, and that he’d love to take another shot a Super Bowl run with the team he’s been with since 2012. But he’s also aware of the business of football—”I’ve been through this before, the trade deal,” referencing the move that brought him to Kansas City after seven seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. Still, Smith offered that “I wish I was in control of this thing.”
That’s where the Cleveland Browns come in. The Browns have been linked to Smith for numerous reasons, ranging from their need to add a veteran quarterback to the room, their over $100 million in salary cap space which allows them to add Smith’s $20.3 million cap hit in 2018 should they so choose as well as the connection between Smith and current Browns general manager John Dorsey. But Smith doesn’t seem to be as enthused about a potential arrival in Cleveland as many Browns fans are.
Patrick asked Smith if he would be “open to Cleveland” should they come forward as the leading trade partner with the Chiefs. While Smith first said that he hasn’t thought about it, Patrick pressed further and Smith—in a roundabout way that fit well with the jocular tone of the interview—didn’t seem all that enthusiastic about heading to the Browns. “They’ve got nowhere to go but up,” said Smith, adding, “1-31 over the last two years just sounds amazing.”
Ultimately, it appears that Smith would prefer to stay in Kansas City, though that’s not the most likely outcome given Smith’s cap hit versus the Chiefs’ cap space, as well as the presence of Patrick Mahomes, whom the Chiefs drafted in the first round last year expressly to serve as Smith’s heir. Barring that, a proven contender would be next on his list. “You would love to go to a place, if [a trade] is the case, if you’re going somewhere... you want to go somewhere you’d have a chance to have success,” said Smith.
Though the decision isn’t going to be up to Smith, it appears that if he is going to be the hero quarterback for the Browns in 2018, he’ll be a reluctant one.