Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith still isn’t assured of what his future holds beyond the upcoming season.
But Smith, who has one year left on his contract, wants to sign an extension and continue his career in Kansas City.
“I’d love to have it done,” Smith said in a phone interview on Thursday. “I love Kansas City, I love the coaching staff, the players. … But when you’re talking about this many years and that type of deal, you want it done right. You want both sides happy, and you want it to be something that is going to last and you can play out. A lot of things go into it.
“With that, there’s still plenty of time. I still have a whole year left. And who knows what will happen?”
Smith said his representatives had discussions with Chiefs general manager John Dorsey until this month, when the league goes dormant before camp, which starts for Chiefs quarterbacks and rookies Monday in St. Joseph.
“This time of year, the whole NFL is put on hold because this is the little time coaches and general managers have off, just like the rest of us,” said Smith, speaking from Lake Tahoe, Nev., where he is competing in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship.
“We’ve continued talks, had open conversation, but no news to report.”
The Chiefs, with about $9.4 million of salary cap space available, are facing a quandary with Smith, 30, and outside linebacker Justin Houston, 25, entering the final years of their contracts before they can become unrestricted free agents.
It’s possible the team could sign one of them to a long-term deal and use the franchise tag on the other next spring. This season, the franchise tender was $16.2 million for quarterbacks and $11.4 million for linebackers. Smith is due $7.5 million this year, while Houston, who would earn $1.4 million, did not report to the Chiefs’ voluntary offseason program or mandatory minicamp.
The Chiefs cleared about $7.5 million in salary cap room that can be used to sign either Smith or Houston when they released cornerback Brandon Flowers last month, but Smith didn’t look at it that way.
“Someone told me that, and that’s not what I thought,” Smith said with a laugh. “I thought, ‘Oh man, we lost a good corner.’ I wasn’t thinking about it from a money perspective. Here’s a guy who has started virtually every game for us last year, so now we have to replace him.”
Smith, acquired from San Francisco in a March 2013 trade, was 11-4 as a starter for the Chiefs last season and led the team to the playoffs a year after they went 2-14, tied for the worst record in the league.
He is 30-9-1 as a starter in the last three seasons, having led San Francisco to the NFC championship game in 2011 and helping the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 before coming to Kansas City, where he established career bests with 308 completions, 508 attempts, 3,313 yards and 23 touchdowns with just seven interceptions.
Quarterbacks such as Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler, who are all in the $18 million-a-year range, don’t have near the track record Smith does.
“We’re getting pretty close to where I’m not thinking about any of that,” Smith said. “But certainly when you’re talking about comparables and what the marketplace is for a quarterback, certainly you’re looking at that, and I feel like my body of work of the last three, four years is right up there with a lot of those guys. No question, when you’re trying to put a value on something like that, you look at a lot of stuff.
“But real soon come Sunday, all that stuff is going to get turned off for me.”
Smith said it can be difficult to compartmentalize worrying about his contract and studying his playbook.
“When I talk to management, we talk about that, and that’s great, and then flush it, and we focus on football and doing what we have to do to help us win,” he said.
Smith said if a contract extension isn’t wrapped up by the start of the season, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done before next March.
“You’re talking about until next March when free agency would potentially start,” Smith said. “It’s a long time between now and then for something to get hashed out.
“Just knowing John (Dorsey) and (head coach) Andy (Reid) … they’re flexible and pragmatic guys,” Smith said. “I don’t think anyone is going to be too hard-headed, and we’re trying to get it done the best way we can.”