The following paragraph was written minutes after the final trade was announced:
I have seen countless bad deals in my 17 years as a Redskins fan. I’ve seen Washington give 100 million dollars to Albert Haynesworth. I’ve seen us run the infamous “swinging gate” play against the Giants in 2009. I’ve seen Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder treat the best GM Washington has had in a long time like trash. This trade made me the most frustrated I have ever been.
Needless to say, the sudden loss of Kendall Fuller hit me hard. Since then, I have calmed down and looked at the trade with a clear perspective. Here are my thoughts.
First off, the details. Washington received Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs. In return, they gave up a 3rd round pick in the 2018 draft and 22-year-old CB Kendall Fuller. They will also be resigning Smith, who would’ve been a UDFA after this upcoming season, to a four-year deal worth 94 million dollars with three years and 71 million guaranteed. This new deal means that he will be under the Redskins control for the next five years.
Second, the effect at QB. The best aspect is the gained stability at QB. The Kirk Cousins Fiasco has finally ended. It is clear now that the likelihood of resigning him was essentially zero.
Washington could have resigned Cousins to a 19 million per year deal in 2015, but they played the waiting game and handled the situation about as poorly as they could have. Without Cousins coming back, Washington addressed the gaping hole at QB prior to the league year began.
With no Cousins and QBs like Baker Mayfield rising up draft boards, the odds of veteran Colt McCoy starting were far too high.
By acquiring Smith, the Jay Gruden has (assuming Smith performs well and does not retire) a starting QB for the next five years. The former first overall pick should be an interesting fit in Washington. In the past, Jay Gruden has called out Kirk Cousins for not throwing deep enough, and Smith has a track record of being a conservative passer. Prior to last season, Smith finished 24th and 26th among QBs for air yards, as opposed to Cousins’ 10th and 1st.
Though Smith is often associated with dink and dunk passing, he displayed his ability to throw deep this year. According to PFF, he had the highest deep passer rating and 6th best big-play %. He has the potential to excel in Jay Gruden’s offense and could set career highs for himself.
With that said, Alex Smith is basically an older and worse version of Cousins. 2017 could be an anomaly. He has not thrown for over 3,550 yards in the rest of his 12-year career. Simply put, he was a game manager. While he rarely throws interceptions (INT% of 1.5 during the past five years with the Chiefs) he relied on his receivers ability to run after the catch.
The most worrisome part of the QB switch is age. Smith is going to be 34 at the start of next season and 38 at the end of his contract. Cousins is four years younger.
Next up, money. This year, the Redskins have Smith under contract for 17 million while Cousins could have earned upwards of 30 million. Due to this discrepancy, Washington has 37, as opposed to 24, million in cap space. After this year, Smith’s contract goes up to 23 million a year which will save the Redskins around 7 million per year.
Financially, this trade helps Washington. At least in the short term. More money means more free agent spending on positions other than QB. Once Smith’s new deal kicks in, the additional 7 million may not be worth the drop off in production and age. I expect Washington to be big spenders in free agency given Bruce Allen’s history and the cleared cap space.
Now onto the least talked about portion of the trade: Washington’s 2018 3rd round pick. While any pick is valuable, due to the inevitable loss of Kirk Cousins, Washington will likely gain a 3rd round pick back in the compensatory draft. The loss of this year’s pick still hurts. Washington has countless holes across the defense and they need every pick they can get.
We’ll conclude with Kendall Fuller. Bruce Allen dealing Fuller displays how desperate the team was to acquire a veteran QB before the season. The former Virginia Tech DB was a defensive stalwart last year. He was Bleacher Report’s top slot corner, PFF’s highest ranked Redskins player and 6th overall CB. He’ll be entering his third season at 23 years old on a rookie contract, which highlights how much potential he has.
I absolutely raved about Fuller coming out of college. I selected him in my annual “Redskins’ Ideal Draft” article, “Fuller plays with a high IQ, is physically tough, and also has been regarded as one of college football’s most coachable players.” Fuller possesses everything you want as a football player.
I hate trading Fuller away, there is no other way to put it. A young talent like him should be “untouchable” every offseason.
Losing Fuller changes the outlook of the offseason significantly. Until this point, many assumed UDFA Bashaud Breeland would not be returning. Countless rumors swirled around DC about him being a diva in the locker room and he has been inconsistent over the two seasons. Now, retaining him may be a necessity.
Fabian Moreau will have to step up. The second-year CB did not see the field much as a rookie but has high potential. Similar to Fuller, Moreau was expected to be a possible first-round pick but slipped due to an injury. If fully healthy, Moreau could make a positive impact for Washington in next season.
At the end of the day, the NFL is a QB’s league. You have to be willing to sell the farm for an above average QB, and Washington almost did that. In order to stay competitive, they needed to gain stability and talent at the helm. They may have achieved that goal. Only time will tell.