In a blockbuster move, the Washington Redskins acquired Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith late Tuesday night on January 30. The details of the trade are as follows:
Washington Redskins receive: QB Alex Smith
Kansas City Chiefs receive: CB Kendall Fuller, Draft Pick #78 (3rd Round)
First, for the Redskins, this is a clear indication that they are not satisfied with the current crop of quarterbacks in the draft (or, at least, those that would have been available with their 13th overall pick). In trading for Alex Smith, they punt on making a long-term decision at quarterback for at least another year or two.
Smith is a solid quarterback – he has led a team to the playoffs in both the NFC and the AFC, he was an early MVP favorite before cooling off around midseason, and he has been around the block a few times. Redskins coach Jay Gruden will utilize Smith’s great accuracy and prolific touch to move the ball down the field. It is likely that the addition of Smith alone will not give the Redskins enough firepower to win the division against a stacked Eagles team and a Cowboys team that feels disrespected.
On the flip side, the Kansas City Chiefs are committing to go all-in with Patrick Mahomes here. Mahomes, going into his second year, has tremendous arm talent and was a favorite of ours in last year’s class out of Texas Tech. Andy Reid will be able to get everything possible out of Mahomes. Smith was a tremendous bridge from spending a first-round pick on a quarterback to starting him in Year Two.
The Chiefs get a solid cornerback in Kendall Fuller – it remains to be seen how they will use him, but he could certainly figure into a defensive scheme that utilizes his ability as a slot corner. The third round pick is really the boon here, as Kansas City is going to continue stockpiling young talent as they build around a young quarterback, running back, and No. 1 wide receiver. It is an exciting time to be a Chiefs fan.
The person most directly affected by this move is incumbent Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. Along with being younger, the probability is that Cousins is better than Smith. Washington did not have great faith in Cousins, declining to extend him past a one-year “franchise tag” deal each of the last two years. Re-upping Cousins on a franchise tag for the third year in a row would have been financially unfeasible for Washington, requiring a one-year deal of $34.5 million.
Cousins will likely find himself traded or released in short order. There are a few logical fits for him, including the Cleveland Browns, given his Midwestern roots and Midwestern choice of college (Michigan State). Speaking of Cousins’ Spartan days, another former Michigan State football man is now the head coach of a quarterback-needy team: Pat Shurmur with the New York Giants. It is unlikely that the Redskins will trade within the division, but this could be a possibility if Cousins hits free agency.
Depending on what happens with Drew Brees, Cousins appears to be the best quarterback on the market this offseason. If Jimmy Garoppolo garnered a second-round draft pick for just a few games of good play, it is entirely possible that Cousins’ asking price is a first-round pick and then some. The New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and Jacksonville Jaguars are also in the running for Cousins’ services, while the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings are dark horses.