When Alex Smith was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs about a week ago, two teams were happy.
The San Francisco 49ers were pleased. They already have their young starting quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, and they traded away their back-up for some solid draft picks. The NFL Draft is always a great time for teams to get better through some young and fresh talent.
As for the Kansas City Chiefs, they have to be delighted. After dealing with quarterback issues over the past several seasons, they have now found their guy. Alex Smith is a veteran quarterback who will pair up nicely with new head coach Andy Reid.
But if there’s one team that should be upset about the trade: the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders, to say the least, are a struggling franchise. Carson Palmer isn’t sure what his future with the team is, defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was recently arrested, and Taiwan Jones is set to make the transformation from running back to cornerback.
There are plenty of questions lurking on the team, many of them unanswered.
With Oakland competing in the AFC West, it’s very hard for anyone to choose them to win the division. The Denver Broncos rule the division which also includes the Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers.
Denver, as long as they have Peyton Manning, will always be favored to win the AFC West. Always. And the Chargers may not be an elite football team, but Philip Rivers runs that show and they are very well respected across the league.
That leaves the bottom two teams- the Raiders and the Chiefs, to compete in a division that many people don’t even know they are in. Before Alex Smith was dealt to Kansas City, it seemed like the Raiders could make a push and be the third best team in their division. But now, it’s a whole new story.
With Smith now on the Chiefs, it shakes up a lot of things in the AFC West.
Smith will be paired up with elite wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who just signed a five-year contract that is worth over $56 million. That duo will be a force to be reckoned with during the season, and I don’t think any defense is looking forward to playing them. Throw in Jamaal Charles and his quickness and versatility, and you are looking at one dangerous offense. Their defense could use some improvement, but maybe the Chiefs will use their first overall pick in this year’s draft to bolster their struggling defensive squad.
It will be hard for the Oakland Raiders, who are just as much a mess on offense as defense, to compete with the Chiefs. Terrelle Pryor will be competing for the starting quarterback job, and even if he wins it, will have a large task ahead of him. The young and inexperienced group of Raiders receivers need to stay healthy for them to even have a slight chance of winning games next season. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, and Jacoby Ford all dealt with injuries last year.
Darren McFadden has got to get it going as well. When healthy, he is definitely a better running back than Jamaal Charles, but the key words there are “when healthy”. McFadden, as well as back-up running back Mike Goodson, suffered a high ankle sprain last season that forced him to sit out for much of the year.
My point is, with Alex Smith moving to Kansas City, it puts the Raiders at the bottom of their division, a place that they don’t want to be, but a place that they are familiar with. If they want to get out of the hole that they have dug themselves into, they need to make a big trade, draft some fresh talent in the draft, or just simply install a new game plan.