The Kansas City Chiefs could not beat Andrew Luck in the playoffs last season. They will have to overcome another strong-armed quarterback, Jay Cutler, to succeed in contract negotiations with their own starter, Alex Smith.
That is because the deal Cutler signed with the Chicago Bears in January set some financial guideposts on a course the Chiefs presumably do not want to follow too closely.
On the surface, this should be a straightforward negotiation for Kansas City. The Chiefs are credible when they say they value Smith. They traded two second-round choices to acquire him after all. Nothing I heard from coach Andy Reid or anyone else during a recent visit to Chiefs headquarters suggested the team was wavering.
Smith, having learned early in his career that money does not ensure professional happiness, is not the type to make unreasonable demands. Re-signing Smith was never particularly problematic during his career with the San Francisco 49ers -- not in 2011, when all parties initially figured a fresh start was in their best interests, and not in 2012, after the team investigated Peyton Manning's availability.
But the Cutler deal presents challenges for the Chiefs as they potentially pursue a contract extension with Smith.
Smith’s likely asking price
Smith and Cutler both have first-round draft pedigrees. Both know what it’s like to bounce from one offensive scheme to another with supporting casts of varying quality. Smith is 30. Cutler is 31. Both learned new systems under offensive-minded head coaches in 2013. If you look at their conventional stats over the past three seasons, Smith can make a case that he is worth Cutler money: