The Chiefs are a little more than a week away from their first preseason game, and they still have no contract extension in place with quarterback Alex Smith.
Last week, a source told The Star that there were “significant differences” between the team and player as it relates to a new contract, and there are no indications that has changed.
But talks have continued between the two sides.
“I mean, there’s communication going on,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said during his news conference Monday. “Like I told you before, that’s the important thing.
“Alex is a good football player, he’s great for this football team and we’re lucky to have him here.”
Smith, 30, is set to make $7.5 million this season before he becomes a free agent in 2015. He’s coming off a career year in which he threw for 3,313 yards with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions and led the Chiefs to an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance.
One could argue that Smith’s performance, particularly over his final six games last season — including the playoffs — when he threw for 1,542 yards with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions, justified the heavy price of two second-round picks they had to give up to acquire him from San Francisco.
But to keep him around, the Chiefs will have to pony up, assuming Smith is seeking a deal within the range of the contracts Dallas’ Tony Romo, Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford signed, which were around $18 million per year.
If the Chiefs and Smith can’t agree to a deal, they could always let him play out the season and place a franchise tag on him next season. A starting quarterback with an uncertain contract situation always has the potential to become a distraction, though Reid said he doesn’t believe Smith would let a lack of a new deal affect him.
“I don’t think so, I don’t think so,” Reid said. “Alex, he’s been around. He knows how it works.”
It’s not even August yet, and the regular season is still more than a month away. That means that while the Aug. 7 preseason opener looms, there’s still plenty of time for both sides to come to an agreement before the games really matter, as long as the lines of communication remain open — which they are, at least for now.
“They’re working through it so we’ll see what happens,” Reid said. “These things take (time). You know how the game goes. Alex isn’t worried about it and I’m not not worried about it. We just go play.”