The Washington Redskins have traded with the Kansas City Chiefs to acquire veteran quarterback Alex Smith. The move settles the question of whether or not they will try to keep Kirk Cousins, who will now be one of the hottest names in the 2018 free agent market.
Washington will send a 2018 third-round pick and third-year cornerback Kendall Fuller to Kansas City as part of the deal. Fuller was drafted in the third round in 2016. He has started six games for Washington in each of the last two seasons and had four interceptions in 2017.
Washington faced the dilemma of having to either sign Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal, give him a $34 million franchise tag, or let him walk. They have clearly been unwilling to commit to him as their future and could not justify that massive one-year salary.
Cousins was franchised in 2016 and 2017, which is why the 2018 number is so high.
Over the last three seasons with Kirk Cousins as their starter, Washington has finished 9-7, 8-7-1, and 7-9 and only made the playoffs in 2015. They also won the NFC East that year, but thanks largely to Tony Romo's injury in Dallas and rebuilding efforts by the Eagles and Giants.
Cousins lost his last four starts against the Cowboys and is only 1-5 against them over the last three seasons.
It's hard to pin the mediocrity on Kirk, though. He's been in Top-10 in passer rating all three seasons despite changes in offensive coordinators and the players around him. Moves such as drafting Josh Doctson in the first round and signing Terrelle Pryor has a free agent have not produced a go-to receiver for Washington. Tight end Jordan Reed's inability to stay health has also limited the passing game.
Washington will now use the veteran Alex Smith as a band-aid, but they may have a hard time competing in the NFC East. Dallas, New York, and Philadelphia all have continuity on their side with Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, and Eli Manning returning as starters next year.
Smith was expendable in Kansas City after they drafted Patrick Mahomes tenth overall last year.
How long Washington will stick with Alex, and not make their own move towards the future, remains to be seen. From the Cowboys fan's perspective, this move feels like something that keeps them in a holding pattern for the next few seasons.
We have enough to worry about with the rising power in Philadelphia. The longer that Washington wants to keep treading water, the better.