After K.C. brass traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes in the first round, Smith knew the score. The 33-year-old quarterback said before the season during an interview on In Depth with Graham Bensinger, he understands the expectation is that he'll be playing elsewhere next year. Smith added that's how he's always operated.
"Yeah, you know, for sure it absolutely does, without a doubt," Smith said when asked if he felt like 2017 was his last season in K.C. "And I only say that because, that was exactly my mindset when I got traded here was no different. Like this could be my only year here right? I just think you become a veteran. Structurally the contracts -- the guarantees are less and that's just the reality, right. Like you got to prove yourself year in and year out and if you can't get the job done, every team's gonna go try to find somebody else they can, right? I mean that's the reality of the deal.
"I mean, I don't care who you are. I mean that's the thing, right? You cease to be this developmental project -- a rookie guy that's on a rookie contract that maybe has years to grow. You're a veteran. You're expected to perform and play at a certain level. And if you don't, the team isn't going to just keep going [on same path]. They're gonna try and find somebody else that can. And so, no different this year than every year. That's just been the way it is. I don't think that's a bad thing either."
Unlike Brett Favre, who repeatedly said it wasn't his job to help teach a young Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, Smith said his personality is such that he'll help the rookie or any other quarterback on the team, even if that means hurting his own chances to keep his job.
Smith was asked if it's difficult to see his team use a pick on a quarterback who wouldn't see the field this year instead of a player that might help the Chiefs get over the playoff hump this season.
"Yeah, it was hard. I mean, I knew we were potentially gonna take a quarterback," Smith said of the Mahomes pick. "We hadn't really spent a lot of draft capital on a quarterback since I've been here. So definitely knew it was a possibility. Like you said, though, I had a lot of expectations for us. We have a lot of expectations in it for winning now -- like win now. We got this window of opportunity and let's take advantage.
"Yeah, here was a draft pick that potentially maybe could have contributed, who now I'm hoping sits for a while, you know? That's the reality of it. So, yeah, like it's a tough pill to swallow a little. Man, we could have added this or this or this position, or this player. But I do think, regardless, for one, it's out of our control. That's not our job, we're not personnel guys, we don't get paid to do that. We get paid to go out there and execute plays and win games. And the other thing, and I truly believe this, I think is sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make. Sometimes the biggest moves were just bringing guys back. I do think the bulk of our team is back. That's the reality. As flashy as draft picks are, the reality of them helping out in Year One anyway, is not necessarily the case. That's not the reality."
The reality for Smith is that he likely has one season to push the Chiefs as far as possible. He's also auditioning for other potential landing spots this offseason. In a league with a dearth of starting-caliber signal-callers, Smith will have a job next year. He knows it likely won't be wearing the same helmet he currently dons.