ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- News of quarterback Andy Dalton's contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals broke during Kansas City Chiefs training camp practice on Monday and it traveled fast. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, looking for a similar extension, was briefed on the Dalton news, if not the details, shortly after practice concluded.
"I just found out walking off the field just to give me a heads up because I would probably be asked about it," Smith said. "I’ve got nothing for you now. I don’t know anything about it. I’m focused out here on camp, getting better. We’ve got a game on Thursday and it happens to be against [the Bengals]."
That’s a small-world story, much like the world of starting quarterback contracts. One has an impact on the next, and Dalton’s deal will have its effect on Smith’s. So will contract extensions recently signed by Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears and Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers.
Dalton’s contract is reportedly worth $115 million over six years with incentives. That number is in line with what Cutler and Kaepernick received.
The market is being set, whether the Chiefs agree with it or not. This is the cost of doing business now in the NFL’s quarterback world.
This is where the Chiefs will likely have to go if they want to extend the contract of Smith, who is in the final season of his existing deal. Dalton’s deal is the going rate for a quarterback, and Smith is entirely in line if he uses it as a starting point for his asking price.
It won’t necessarily hurt the Chiefs to wait on a new contract for Smith. He won’t necessarily be any more expensive in March, when his contract expires, than he is now.
But whether the Chiefs wait until then or not, they’d better be prepared to pay Smith at least the way the Bengals did Dalton.