Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith hands the ball off during NFL football training camp Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 in St. Joseph, Mo. (AP Photo/St. Joseph News-Press, Jessica Stewart)
ST. JOSEPH, MO --(CBS Sports) The negotiations between the Chiefs and quarterback Alex Smith are ongoing, with the dialogue maintaining on a regular basis and the team looking for creative ways to secure him for the future, according to several sources. To this point, however, they haven't been able to bridge a few gaps, but the Chiefs are willing to cut into their considerable cap space to strike a deal, and there are no plans to stop exchanging proposals.
Smith has said he would cut off negotiations if they became a distraction, but that's unlikely to be the case here. Smith is as smart as they come, and he has a power agent, Tom Condon, handling the business of the negotiations. Talks have remained cordial between Condon and general manager John Dorsey and there is an interest on both sides to find common group … that's just particularly tricky at the quarterback position.
There is a top tier of quarterbacks making $18M a year or more, and then a pretty steep drop to guys in the $10M range, and then a bunch more in the $5-7M range who are bridge starters (which is the kind of contract Smith was on with the 49ers when the Chiefs traded for him before the 2013 season). Smith likely merits something between those tiers, but, should he lead a team not overloaded with proven pass catchers back to the playoffs, he could boost his earning potential in a free-agent class that's likely to be short on established starters.
And, with Andy Reid so adept at developing quarterbacks, the Chiefs wouldn't want to overspend on Smith and potentially be stuck with him at some point while a youngster is ready to challenge for his job (Smith got surpassed by Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and Reid traded Donovan McNabb to make room for Kevin Kolb; it happens). Hence the conundrum. There may be a happy medium here, despite it all, and the sides are certainly working at it.
The Chiefs have also reopened a dialogue with Justin Houston, who was mulling a holdout at one point. And Houston is a priority for them as well, sources said, but I don't have high expectations anything gets done before the season.
The sides have not been close financially and Houston is at a point where playing out the season and banking on big stats -- and big money -- could make the most sense. The Chiefs have only one franchise tag to use, and obviously this Smith situation could conceivably play out in a manner in which it gets earmarked for him. Regardless, the Chiefs would love to have both players under contract beyond 2014 when the season begins, but I'm not sure how feasible that will prove to be.