The Washington Redskins are making major waves in the quarterback market ahead of Super Bowl LII and are trading for quarterback Alex Smith, according to a report from Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star.
It's a stunning and bold move by Washington, a full month before the NFL Combine and NFL free agency open up, and it drastically changes the landscape of the quarterback market in 2018.
The biggest domino here? The Redskins trading for Smith almost certainly means the end of the Kirk Cousins era in Washington.
Cousins, who has been scheduled for free agency each of the last two years, played under the franchise tag in the last two seasons, meaning he had just a one-year guaranteed deal. It was strongly believed the Redskins would either transition tag Cousins or franchise tag him, but now it looks like the quarterback will waltz into completely unimpeded free agency. There, as Ryan Wilson detailed. (For more on Cousins and Smith, .)
Here's an interesting quote to remember from Cousins out of Super Bowl radio row today: "." Cousins was essentially saying he would be willing to play for a team that can compete over a team that can pay him the most money in free agency.
For the Chiefs, this means the start of the Patrick Mahomes era. It was expected Kansas City would move onto their 2017 first-round pick during the 2018 season, because of the investment into Mahomes, the upside of Mahomes and the out they had in Smith's contract to free up some space.
Trading Smith now frees up a $17 million chunk of cap space for the Chiefs heading into the offseason. It was always likely Smith was headed elsewhere: he would have had no dead money on his contract in 2018 if released, and the Chiefs made it clear throughout the 2017 season they were planning to move on to Mahomes this offseason.
This will likely be viewed as a "bridge" situation with Smith, who is now 33 years old. But according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Redskins and Smith have reached an agreement on a four-year extension, meaning he gets the extension and commitment from the Redskins that Cousins could never get. Reports peg Smith's deal as averaging $23.5 million per year with $70 million guaranteed. Whew.
Washington has the freedom to draft and develop someone either in the 2018 NFL Draft or even later; it feels unlikely Smith plays the full length of his deal with the Redskins, but weirder things have happened. It's a nice landing spot for Smith, though, even if he can't control his own destiny and pick where he ends up. Jay Gruden is a good coach and Smith is a good quarterback for his system. The Redskins have the trio of Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson, who form a nice nucleus to build around.
Multiple reports indicate the Redskins gave up a third-round pick for Smith and a player to be named later, which is a pretty rare instance in the NFL. Any trade cannot be officially completed until March 14 when the new league year begins.
There are certainly worse places to land -- while on radio row at the Super Bowl, Smith was asked about playing for the Browns, where his old boss John Dorsey is now GM, So he's probably pretty happy that he isn't landing in Cleveland. The reality for Smith is it would be difficult on the open market to pry a massive deal from a team at his age and with his ceiling (Smith is a very accurate passer, but has not been able to take the top off on the Chiefs offense, although he did drastically improve his passing down the field in 2017).
Now he's in a good spot, in a different conference from the Chiefs, who received picks in exchange for a player they were not going to be using anyway. The Redskins have a long-ish term solution-type thing for the quarterback position. Kirk Cousins gets to saunter unimpeded into free agency where he will perhaps sign the richest contract in football history. It mostly qualifies as a win for everyone involved, although it's easy to imagine Skins fans getting hot and bothered over this one.