Somehow, just five days before the Super Bowl and during the State of the Union address of all things, the NFL found a way to surprise everybody.
According to a report from Tereza A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star, the Kansas City Chiefs will trade quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins. The deal cannot be complete until the start of the new league year on March 14, and compensation isn’t currently known, but specifics are in place, per Paylor’s report.
Smith has a cap hit of $20.6 million for 2018, and the deal will reportedly save the Chiefs $17 million. NFL insider Ian Rapoport has reported that it will involve both draft picks and another player.
This is a multi-faceted move on a number of different levels. On the Chiefs end, they will most certainly be going with first-round draft pick Patrick Mahomes as their starting QB in 2018. For the Redskins, they will probably be letting current QB Kirk Cousins walk in free agency.
Smith has been generally a competent signal caller since arriving in Kansas City via trade from the San Francisco 49ers in 2013. He had a career season in 2017, throwing for 4,042 yards, 26 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions.
However, while the Chiefs had made the playoffs in four of Smith’s six seasons at the helm, they’ve won just a single postseason game. The team consciously drafted Mahomes last offseason to potentially push Smith, who responded with his best year as a pro.
But they lost once again in the wildcard round to the Tennessee Titans, through no fault of his. Considering that Mahomes looked decent in his relief start during the final game of the regular season, perhaps the Chiefs feel the time is now to make a change.
Meanwhile, Cousins has been the starter in Washington for the last three years, also displaying reliability at QB. While 2017 wasn’t as fruitful for him as 2016, he still threw for over 4,000 yards and notched 27 touchdown passes.
The Redskins, however, have gotten cold feet about actually paying Cousins long term. They’ve applied the franchise tag to him twice the past two years, and he made it known that he wanted an actual deal sooner rather than later. He’s expected to be the top QB on the free agent market, with several QB needy teams set to vie for his services.
With that in mind, the Redskins evidently decided that they’d rather find a QB for next season immediately so Cousins can prepare to embark on his free agent tour. Smith has similar production to him as well, meaning they won’t downgrade with this deal.