This was bound to happen. The San Francisco 49ers are too smart to let Alex Smith go to a division rival.
However, the Arizona Cardinals should not be upset or dwell on a quarterback that is still largely unproven on an NFL level. Yes, Smith did enjoy his best stretch over the final two years with San Francisco, and the Cardinals may not have a better option, but now they can spend their money on somebody that is closer to a guarantee.
Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid can work miracles with quarterbacks, so the Chiefs were the better suitor anyway.
Now, the Cardinals are getting closer to putting all their eggs into the Kevin Kolb basket. He was their only choice during the 2012 season to win games simply because nobody else could do it at the quarterback position. Now, with a little extra spending money, where do the Cardinals go from here?
One option is sit on the team they have, plus the draft, and wait until next season to see if there are any other players they want to spend money on. If WR Larry Fitzgerald has another unlikely season like 2012, the Cardinals might want to consider restructuring his contract to free up even more room. The team could also go the way the Seattle Seahawks and 49ers went with the philosophy “defense wins championships”.
It works pretty well, but I would already pick the Cardinals defense over about 20 other teams. So, they have to focus on offense. They should not go wild with their spending during free agency, but they should pick up the best running back available, best offensive lineman without spending too much and add some depth on defense.
The most important project for Bruce Arians and the new coaching staff is the NFL Draft. The team can fix a lot of their problems in the first two rounds and if they are able to stay healthy, don’t be surprised if they make a late season push for a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.
It’s still a long way away, but the Cardinals are only a few pieces short of a good football team.
Follow Kase Brammer on Twitter @KBlive33