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Clark Hunt: Alex Smith will be Chiefs' starter in 2017

The Kansas City Chiefs have been fielding persistent questions about their quarterback situation since mid-January.

With Alex Smith under center, the Chiefs' .793 winning percentage is the NFL's best since the middle of the 2015 season. That salient fact has done little, however, to discourage rampant rumor and innuendo that Kansas City is a potential landing spot as Tony Romo's next team.

In the immediate aftermath of their season-ending playoff loss to the Steelers, coach Andy Reid assured reporters he could still win with Smith. When it was pointed out two weeks later that the comments weren't exactly a ringing endorsement, Reid left little room for equivocation.

"Alex is our quarterback -- there's no question about that or anything else," Reid told the Kansas City Star in late January. "I surely didn't want to insinuate that (was not the case) at all."

Earlier this month, general manager John Dorsey echoed Reid's sentiment on Smith's standing with the organization.

"We've said all along he is the starter -- I don't know what more you want to say," Dorsey said. "He's led this franchise to three playoff seasons out of four, which is pretty good in my eyes."

Chairman Clark Hunt is the latest to weigh in, confirming to the Kansas City Star over the weekend that Smith is entrenched as the franchise quarterback.

"I would just reiterate what Andy has said several times throughout the offseason," Hunt explained, "which is he's very happy with Alex and Alex is going to be our starter going into 2017."

Smith isn't without his shortcomings. In particular, his inability to stretch the field vertically is a competitive disadvantage against the AFC's superpowers such as the Steelers and Patriots.

That said, the Chiefs are in better shape at quarterback than any other team linked to Romo.

"I am bullish on Alex Smith because ... there are only eight or 10 franchise guys in the league," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said Monday on a conference call, "and if Alex Smith isn't one of them, he's kind of a notch below, and that's better than most of the other teams around the league. I could name you half the league that needs a quality starting quarterback.

"So I believe the Chiefs are ahead of most of the teams. I think you've got to be careful for what you wish for, because it may come true."

The question the Chiefs have to ask is whether it's worth alienating or losing Smith to flirt with a 37-year-old quarterback who could be one hit away from retirement.

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