On Tuesday night, a report stole attention away from the seemingly never-ending Super Bowl news cycle. According to multiple sources, Alex Smith will be traded to Washington in exchange for slot corner Kendall Fuller and a 3rd round pick.
This news came as a shock to many, especially given that it happened before the official start of the offseason. There’s a lot to sort out regarding the fallout from the deal. So let’s get into it.
Ideal Situation for Kansas City
After trading up to select Patrick Mahomes in the first round of last year’s draft, it was no secret that Alex Smith’s days in Kansas City were numbered. Speculation about his 2018 destination followed him all season long. But, the Chiefs didn’t exactly have all the leverage in the world.
Yes, the quarterback position is always in demand in this league. But, a 33-year-old going into the final year of his contract is not the most desirable target on the market. Yes, there was reportedly competition in acquiring Smith’s services. But, if the price was too steep, there was no pressure to make this deal.
Washington holds the 13th overall selection in the NFL Draft this spring. If they were ready to move on from Kirk Cousins, they could have done so by drafting the best quarterback available to them in the draft. Sit him behind Colt McCoy for a year or two, and then play him when he’s ready.
Instead, you give up a 3rd round pick and a blossoming young defender at a key position. A player that graded out as the best slot corner in the league last season.
CB Kendall Fuller allowed a 55.0 passer rating when covering the slot in 2017. The LOWEST mark in the NFL this season!
(min. 150 snaps in slot coverage)
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 31, 2018
Positives for Washington?
While the critics will harp on the Redskins front office for yet another “bad move”, there is a positive side to this deal for them. First, the cost to keep Cousins would be over $30 million a year, whether they used the franchise tag or signed him long term. That type of deal would severely hamper their ability to build a competitive roster in the future.
They already have the contracts of Trent Williams, Josh Norman, Ryan Kerrigan, and Jordan Reed locked up through 2020. Each player has a cap hit of at least $10 million over the next three seasons. With Cousins on the books, they would not have a whole lot of room to work the free agent market.
With more and more teams relying on free agency to build contenders, Washington has the freedom to follow suit. They free up between $5 and $7 million in cap space. Additionally, they can still get a compensatory pick (as high as a 3rd rounder in 2019) for losing Cousins in free agency.
On top of that, Alex Smith is coming off of the best year of his career. In his age-33 season, Smith threw for a career-high 4042 yards and career-best 26 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions. He excelled as a facilitator of Kansas City’s efficient offense, leading them to the AFC West title for the second straight year.
Head coach Jay Gruden, who’s had an up-and-down career in Washington, may have gotten the guy he needs to lead his offense. While Cousins is viewed as a more prolific passer, he’s turned the ball over quite a bit. Smith, on the other hand, has proven to be very careful with the football throughout his career.
Overall, this deal is a lot less lopsided than it appears at first glance. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments.