But one issue still hangs over the franchise. It's an issue that must be resolved sooner rather than later.
Smith will never win a QB beauty pageant. He will never win you your fantasy league.
You can be in position to win a championship with Alex Smith under center. His accuracy, his leadership, his production and his poise led Kansas City to the playoffs last season, his first with the Chiefs. Smith joined a team that was a mess -- the absolute worst in the league -- and teamed up with Reid to immediately turn it around. This cannot be pooh-poohed.
And most importantly, over this 40-game stretch, Smith posted a record of 30-9-1. He's a winner, plain and simple. In fact, since 2011, just three quarterbacks have notched more wins than Smith: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Pretty good company to keep, eh? Among signal-callers with at least 30 starts during this span, Smith ranks 10th in QB rating (92.5).
How about the postseason?
I'm glad you asked.
In three career playoff games, Alex Smith has nine touchdown passes and zero picks. Remember when he outgunned Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints in January 2012? Three touchdown passes (including the game winner), one thrilling touchdown run and a postseason triumph no Niners fan will ever forget. While the injury-riddled Chiefs lost a barnburner to the Colts on Wild Card Weekend this past January, it certainly wasn't the quarterback's fault -- Smith accounted for 435 yards of total offense and four touchdown passes.
The early stretches of Smith's NFL career were sabotaged by offensive-coordinator instability and clueless head coaching (see: Mike Singletary). In the past three years, he's done nothing but prove himself in every situation. Still, Smith doesn't get enough credit, which boggles my mind -- and, frankly, saddens me.
So then it gets down to a question of worth ...
Next to Smith, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has a vastly superior arm. Cutler looks the part. But his résumé pales in comparison to Smith's when you look at wins and losses, picks and playoff efficiency. In a related story, Jay Cutler just received a seven-year deal worth $126 million -- with $54 million guaranteed.
Please don't misinterpret me: I believe Cutler is worth every single penny when you look into the crystal ball and project his future with Chicago coach Marc Trestman. I lobbied for a long-term pact last December. And in March, I explained why the Cutler-led Bears are primed to reach their full potential. This is a marriage that just makes sense.
That said, Smith -- who, at 30, is a full year younger than Cutler -- deserves the same level of appreciation, based upon precedent and the future.
When Reid got the K.C. gig, he targeted Smith to be his gunslinger. And the Chiefs didn't mess around, trading a pair of valuable draft picks to obtain him last offseason. I immediately loved this deal.
Breer: To pay or not to pay?
Smith and Reid share the same vision on offense. The former is a perfect guy to run the latter's system. And the educated guess is that everyone involved knows it.
So ... let's make a deal!
Sure, this is probably a game of chicken between the two sides to see who blinks. Here's the simple truth: Smith needs Reid, Reid needs Smith and Kansas City needs them both.
There are two types of teams in the NFL: those that have a franchise quarterback and those that are searching for one. Kansas City has its guy. Lock him up. Attach him at the hip with Reid for the foreseeable future and win a lot of games.
That's what you do with a great quarterback, right?