The prime directive of new Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey is to solve the team’s longstanding problem of being unable to find a viable starting quarterback. He said so upon being introduced in December, and the sentiment was also echoed by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
The prevailing opinion is that Cleveland will use one of their many draft assets—potentially the No. 1 or No. 4-overall picks in Round 1—to address the position. And while that may still be the case, there may also be a veteran quarterback thrown into the mix. It appears the top target is the Kansas City Chiefs’ Alex Smith.
Smith, who is currently trying to lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl win, is heading into the final year of his four-year, $68 million deal with Kansas City. But while he may be the Chiefs’ best option at quarterback presently, Patrick Mahomes—selected in Round 1 of the 2017 draft—is the future. And barring the hoisting of a Lombardi Trophy a month from now, the Mahomes era may be mere months away. Smith would thus be a $16.9 million backup, unless the Chiefs can find a willing trade partner.
The Chiefs appear open to dealing Smith, according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, and the Browns would be high on the negotiating list. Rapoport noted that Dorsey was the Chiefs’ general manager when Kansas City successfully traded for Smith, then with the San Francisco 49ers, in March of 2013. And, for what it’s worth, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King concurs that Dorsey’s Browns would be the place to keep an eye on when it comes to Smith’s future home.
The #Chiefs are open to trading QB Alex Smith this offseason. Keep an eye on the #Browns & GM John Dorsey and the #AZCardinals, who called about Smith when the #49ers traded him: https://t.co/0rd4hhjGwh— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 6, 2018
Though Smith’s contract does not come cheaply, the Browns are still flush with salary cap cash that makes it easy to absorb the cost and put him into the quarterback competition that is doubtlessly on the horizon. Adding Smith would not preclude the Browns from drafting a young successor-slash-challenger, nor would it necessitate the end of DeShone Kizer’s tenure in Cleveland, either.
At the very least, Smith could be a 2018 stopgap, with the ultimate decision about a second contract coming in 2019. He’s a stable, talented player whose calling card is limiting turnovers (ahem, Kizer) and his presence would buy time for any potential “quarterback of the future” the Browns may add in April. The Browns bringing on Smith makes all the football sense in the world. The Dorsey connection only serves to strengthen the odds that Smith could come to Cleveland this offseason.