Andy Reid has had his eyes on Alex Smith for a while

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Andy Reid only has eyes for Alex Smith, not Nick Foles. (USATSI)
Reid eyed Smith, not Foles, once he got the KC job. (USATSI)

PHOENIX -- Poor Andy Reid. The guy shows up to the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday, which happens to be his birthday, and he has to sit down and chat with a crew of Philadelphia beat writers.

No offense to the Philly media (who are wonderful guys), but it's hard to imagine that Reid wanted to spend his birthday answering questions about Nick Foles. He did anyway, though. And it became abundantly clear that Foles was never in play for the Chiefs -- not just because he wasn't available but because Reid only had eyes for 49ers backup Alex Smith.

"[The Eagles] weren't in a position where they were going to let [Foles] go," Reid said. "That really never was part of the discussion. We kind of had our sights set on Alex and that's the route we went."

There was no question in Reid's mind that acquiring a quarterback was the first -- and most important -- order of business for the Chiefs as they embarked on a new era.

"It's like a writer without a pen. There's a problem," Reid said. "You've got to make sure that you've got that position taken care of."

And while Reid said that he thought former Chiefs starter Matt Cassel will end up becoming a starter elsewhere in the league (a debatable but kind assessment), he also believed that "a change needed to take place" and that's where Smith came into play.

"I'd always kind of had my eye on Alex, as [GM John] Dorsey did, and we were able to get that thing done," Reid said.

Reid and Dorsey didn't play around when it came to acquiring Smith, giving up as much as a pair of second-round picks (with the 2013 pick being No. 34 overall) to nab a guy they believe can turn around the fortunes of the franchise, which has stumbled since trading for their last "franchise guy" in Cassel.

Smith provides a fascinating contrast to Cassel, though. He's a former No. 1 overall pick (Cassel went undrafted), he started right away and struggled for several years to start his career -- Cassel rode the pine before having immediate success as a starter -- and finally matured into a capable quarterback. (Cassel took a nosedive with KC.)

The only similarity is the startling number of offensive coordinators each quarterback's dealt with, and that's something that Reid thinks, at least for Smith, helped the quarterback's maturation process.

"I think stability is an important thing for quarterbacks," Reid said. "And if you look at all the things that took place in [Smith's] life, NFL life early, that's a wild ride. For him to come out, look at how many quarterbacks have been ruined going through that situation, and he came out on top. That's a tribute to him."

Equally important for Reid in evaluating Smith seemed to be the way the quarterback handled losing his starting job in the middle of the season last year, thanks only to the fact that he suffered an injury.

"You watch the way he handled this last situation. He handled it with class. He bit his tongue, which is a hard thing to do," Reid said. "And you just figure guys are trying every which way to pull it out of him -- and the guys doing it are professionals, so they're doing it to the best of their ability, and he maintained his dignity but at the same time put himself in a position where he ended up with a pretty good job."

It's not Smith's last year that's been worth watching, however. Reid indicated since Smith came out of Utah that he's considered the quarterback a legit talent, and that belief was only furthered by the Eagles managing to play the 49ers several different times when Smith and Reid were on opposite sidelines.

"For whatever reason, we had played them for several years, so you could see that whole maturation process take place with him. I've seen him go through these lows, then pull himself out and get his career going the right way," Reid said.

But would Reid, whose been known to make some unexpected decisions with regards to quarterbacks in the draft, consider taking another signal caller with the Chiefs' No. 1-overall pick?

Conventional wisdom screams absolutely not, but Reid refused to rule out the possibility of Kansas City making a play for West Virginia's Geno Smith.

"That doesn't mean Geno is out of the water," Reid said. "I'm going to keep my eyes open on everybody. I think Geno is a good quarterback. We'll just see how it all goes, get this workout thing going."

I'd be willing to put a reasonable wager down that Reid's "interest" in adding another quarterback named Smith to his roster is more about trying to trade out of the No. 1 pick (he claims the Chiefs have gotten calls from "a couple of teams" so far) than it is actually about drafting Geno.

Burning the No. 1 and No. 34 picks in a draft to land two quarterbacks is crazy, even for a quarterback-hungry coach like Reid. And besides, with the way he's fawning over Alex, it's hard to imagine him having eyes for anyone else at this point.

 
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