The Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a four-year contract extension with quarterback Alex Smith, the team announced Sunday.
The deal is worth $17 million a season, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Star.
The agreement, which includes $45 million in guaranteed money, is a significant development for the Chiefs, who no longer will be faced with the possibility of losing Smith — whom they dealt two second-round picks for a little more than a year ago — to free agency.
“It was a priority of ours to get this deal done and keep Alex in a Chiefs uniform long-term,” general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. “Alex is a proven leader on and off the field. He is a special individual with a lot of ability, and we are fortunate to have him here.”
Smith, 30, had one year left on a contract that was set to pay him $7.5 million this season. But thanks to the extension, which was negotiated by agent Tom Condon, Smith will receive $30 million up front in 2014.
The extension will expire after the 2018 season.
Had the two sides failed to reach an agreement before next offseason, the Chiefs could have retained his services by franchising him next offseason.
However, star outside linebacker Justin Houston is also on in the last year of his contract, and with teams allowed to use the tag on only one player per offseason, the Chiefs might have been forced to choose between Smith and Houston — a no-win proposition.
This, however, is no longer a concern. Smith is just the latest quarterback to reach a new deal, as Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton agreed to a six-year extension with $25 million in guarantees, while San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick agreed to a six-year extension with $13 million in guarantees.
Smith’s deal puts him more in line with Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, who received nearly $42 million in guarantees in 2013, and Dallas’ Tony Romo, who received $55 milion in guarantees in 2013.
“John and his staff along with Tom and his group have worked hard to get this deal done,” coach Andy Reid said in a statement.
And now the Chiefs will retain a quarterback who threw for a career-best 3,313 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, his first in Kansas City.
Smith was also particularly effective down the stretch, throwing 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions during a five-game span from mid-November to mid-December. That included a perfect 158.3 passer rating in a five-touchdown performance at Oakland.
Smith finished the season by setting playoff-game franchise records with 46 attempts, 30 completions, 378 yards and four touchdowns in last season’s 45-44 first-round playoff loss at Indianapolis.
The Chiefs’ first-team offense has not continued that continuity during the preseason, as it has failed to score a touchdown in 16 preseason possessions.
Smith, for his part, completed 31 of 51 passes (60.8 percent) for 286 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions in three exhibition games.
But his offensive line has been in a state of upheaval, thanks in large part to the recent four-game suspension of starting right tackle Donald Stephenson, and the unit is still trying to mesh after losing three starters to free agency.
According to Pro Football Focus, Smith was pressured on 37 percent of his snaps during the preseason, compared to 34 percent last season.
“That’s your job as a quarterback,” Smith said. “Sometimes they’re going to bring more than we’ve got and you’ve got to stand in there and make throws.”
It also didn’t help that star running back Jamaal Charles, who played such a significant role in the Chiefs’ success last season, missed much of the preseason with a foot injury.
Smith, however, isn’t making any excuses.
“The 11 guys that we have have to find a way to make a play work and then make a series work and to win a game, in that progression,” Smith said. “For me, (I have) to keep those guys energized to keep them going, staying positive looking forward.”
It may be a little easier for Smith to do that now with his contract situation out of the way.
The Chiefs — and particularly Reid, who has championed Smith since they acquired him — are clearly happy about that.
“Alex is a smart, talented football player that has adapted well to our offensive scheme,” Reid said. “He also, obviously, has had a tremendous amount of success as a quarterback in this league. We as a team are very happy to have Alex as our quarterback moving forward.”