By agreeing to trade Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins, the Kansas City Chiefs handed the franchise over to Patrick Mahomes.
Scrambling out to his right with Von Miller in hot pursuit, the Kansas City quarterback kept his eyes downfield. Moments before being flattened, the ball was flung from his prodigious right hand and placed perfectly between a triangle of defenders. The ball, which traveled 27 yards, was good for a first down on the eventual game-winning drive.
This snapshot was simply one play from Patrick Mahomes’ only start with the Chiefs in his rookie year, a meaningless Week 17 affair against the Broncos. Mahomes’ numbers were solid if not overwhelming, going for 284 yards on 22-of-35 passing with zero touchdowns and an interception.
Still, stats only say so much. There is no proper numerical representation for what Mahomes can do when the play breaks down, one of his myriad traits that had Chiefs general manager Brett Veach comfortable with trading veteran Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins on Tuesday night.
Mahomes is only 22 years old and be all accounts, a raw talent that head coach Andy Reid is attempting to mold into a superstar. The early returns are good on the Texas native, who plays with equal parts recklessness and poise.
Kansas City reached the postseason in four of the five years Smith was under center, winning the AFC West in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. Still, the offense to often went in fits with Smith at the helm, vacillating between brilliance and boredom.
With Mahomes, boredom won’t be the issues. The Chiefs are going to play an exciting brand of wide-open football with the youngster at the controls, throwing to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, and handing off to Kareem Hunt, the NFL’s leading rusher. Kansas City is going to stretch the field and take chances, for better or worse.
As everyone knows, the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing in hopes of a different result. Kansas City is certainly shaking up the status quo, going with its own quarterback for the first time in decades. After ions of retreads and fliers, the Chiefs traded up and doubled down, hoping Mahomes can lead them to the promised land for the first time since 1969.
Whether or not Mahomes is up to the challenge remains a mystery. The arm is there, but can he avoid the crushing turnovers without giving up his innate ability to make plays from nothing?
For the Chiefs, the time has come to find out. With Smith being dealt, the team frees up a whopping $17 million in cap space. When Veach is done going through the roster, Kansas City is likely to wind up with $30-35 million to spend in free agency, giving it the ammunition to fix its defense and take another run at that elusive ring.
Now, Mahomes steps to the fore, hoping to deliver with the weight of an entire city bearing down on his broad shoulders. Smith is gone, and so is the final vestige of an uncertainty heading into OTAs.
The Chiefs are ready to unleash Mahomes. The time has come in Kansas City.