The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Tennessee Titans, 22-21, in Saturday's AFC wild-card playoff game with quarterback Alex Smith under center -- one of the game's most underrated players despite holding the league's top quarterback rating.
And yet, the Chiefs are open to trading Smith this offseason, sources said, thanks in part to one of the most fervent quarterback markets in recent memory.
Kansas City won't actively seek out trade partners, but they will listen. There is a real chance Smith, who's set to make $17 million next season, will be dealt for the second time in his career. When asked by reporters Saturday if he wanted to return to Kansas City next season, Smith said, "Yeah, are you kidding me?"
Mahomes is the heir apparent and the reason the team believes it can make a smooth transition from Smith. The rookie's play during Week 17 impressed team brass, going 22 of 35 for 284 yards with an interception in his first game.
When Smith was traded from the San Francisco 49ers to the Chiefs in 2013, it wound up being for a price of two second-round picks. Smith could fetch more this time -- in part because of his recent success.
In addition, there are more than a handful of teams who need quarterbacks. If Kirk Cousins sticks with the Washington Redskins, Smith would be the top signal-caller available. Among the potential suitors: New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals inquired about Smith when the Niners traded him, sources said, and the Broncos are already considering it. Browns general manager John Dorsey's first move when he took over in Kansas City was to trade for Smith. Could history repeat itself?
Either way, expect Smith to be in the spotlight this offseason.
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