Look we get it, we get it: You want a divorce. Now. Yesterday, if possible.
You saw the wounded duck that left Alex Smith’s arm in the Twin Cities during a fourth-quarter comeback that fell short. And speaking of falling short, there was No. 11’s next offering. Mercy.
It may not seem conceivable, cruel even, for Kansas City Chiefs fans to get hammered with any more undesirable news at the moment. Not after 1-5 and a campaign that looks completely off the rails. Not after a freak injury ended Jamaal Charles’ season before he could try and save it. Not after Jeremy Maclin, the club’s only front-line veteran wide receiver, stuck in limbo as he recovers from a concussion.
Well, here’s some gruel to go with the cruel, baby: $7.1 million.
As in, that’s the cap hit the Chiefs would take by cutting Smith in 2016.
At least according to the fun little calculator provided by the folks over at OverTheCap.com, who list the dead money owed to the Chiefs’ quarterback at staggering $24.9 million as of next year. (Current dead money: an even more staggering $40.4 million.)
“Dead money,” in layman’s terms, is money from a player’s contract that continues to count against a team’s salary cap after said player is no longer on the roster. It’s not just a barometer of a particular team’s investment — it’s a benchmark of just how hard it could be to excise that player (and contract) immediately from the program.
The Chiefs have three players who are projected to account for more than $10 million in dead money in 2016, if cut: Smith, outside linebacker Justin Houston ($16.4 million) and wideout Jeremy Maclin ($19.35 million). In a salary-cap universe, long-term, big-money investments are precious. And, for better or worse, those are the three horses general manager John Dorsey has hitched his wagon to for at least the next 15 months. A June 1 cut of the Chiefs’ signal-caller would actually add $100,000 to the 2016 cap but still would leave $17.7 million in dead money.
To put it another way: In the short term, you’re stuck with him, kids.
So, yes, you could draft his replacement next spring. But instead of the wanderlust for, say, current Cal quarterback Jared Goff — a tall, smart California kid (not unlike Smith) whose college stats aren’t exactly hurt by playing in a Mike Leach-style passing system — maybe the Chiefs should invest a first round pick next spring by upgrading the toys Smith is going to be able to play with. Such as, say, left tackle. Or a valid No. 2 receiver. Or insurance/cover for either Charles or tight end Travis Kelce.
If the first six weeks have proven anything, it’s that No. 11 needs the help. And that the shopping list has rarely been longer.