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Irv Smith Jr. Explains Selling Point That Drew Him to KC Chiefs in Free Agency

Similar to free agent acquisitions of the recent past, all it took was one part of the Chiefs to pique Irv Smith Jr.'s interest.

Over the past half-decade, no NFL franchise has been more successful than the Kansas City Chiefs. A large part of that is due to contributions from star players like Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chris Jones, but they aren't the only ones. Year over year, Kansas City's role players have also chipped in to form winning programs.

Linebacker Drue Tranquill recently signed a three-year deal to re-up with the team and spoke extensively about the Chiefs' winning culture. It played a massive role in his initial decision to join the team and return long-term.

Apparently, that culture is growing more and more obvious to prospective free agents. Tight end Irv Smith Jr. was introduced to the media on Thursday and when asked about why he chose Kansas City, winning was at the top of the list. 

"Ultimately, looking at different teams, with the success that Kansas City's had obviously with Mahomes and being a part of [things with] Travis Kelce and Coach (Andy) Reid..." Smith began. "The culture they've built here is a winning culture. It's something that I've been around winners my whole life. I just felt like for me, it was the best opportunity, the best fit and somewhere I can succeed and just showcase my ability." 

For Smith, he's experienced a mix of winning and adversity throughout his career thus far. During his time with the Alabama Crimson Tide in college, he helped win a pair of conference titles and one College Football Playoff National Championship. Two of the Minnesota Vikings clubs he was on made the playoffs, although they didn't advance past the Divisional Round. Last year's Cincinnati Bengals were coming off a trip to the AFC Championship Game, although quarterback Joe Burrow's injury saw them win just nine games in 2023-24. 

That Cincinnati franchise is the only one to stake claim among AFC clubs to have success against the Chiefs in the playoffs recently. With Burrow slated to be healthy for the upcoming season, the rivalry with Kansas City is expected to be back in full force. Smith, now on the other side of it, is glad to be the hunted rather than the hunter. 

"Obviously, with Kansas City, the success they've had through the years... [to] a lot of these teams, that's the top dog," Smith said. "That's who they're trying to come after. When you are that top dog, you just have more of the [mentality of] you've been there, you've done that, you've won those big games, and you've got that confidence. You're not guessing. A lot of these teams, they might have beat them once throughout the years, one every 10 years or something, however many times but when you have that pedigree of winning consistently, it brings that confidence to your team."

When the Chiefs sign free agents, championship DNA is something they take into account. It's been displayed with many of their signings in recent years, including Tranquill and safety Mike Edwards an offseason ago. The team's hope is Smith can bring a similar mindset and set of experiences to the club. Despite being primed for a tertiary tight end role in Kansas City, the newcomer thinks his background prepared him for the most demanding environment of his career.

"It's crucial," Smith said. "The standard is set. When I went to Alabama, I knew what that standard was and coming to Chiefs Kingdom, I know what the standard is. I don't take it lightly and it's something that when it came down to this decision-making process, I wanted this opportunity. It was something that I wasn't shying away from. I'm attacking it."