kirk cousins

Redskins' trade helps Eagles

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Redskins' trade helps Eagles

The Eagles are far too busy with Super Bowl stuff to be worried about next season, but in the meantime, at least one of their NFC East rivals is refusing to go into rebuilding mode.

Although, if that means trading for Alex Smith, the Redskins may want to reconsider.

According to reports, Washington reached an agreement to acquire Smith late Tuesday evening. The Redskins will send a 2018 third-round draft pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs in exchange for a three-time Pro Bowler. The 34-year-old quarterback is also expected to sign a contract extension worth $23.5 million annually and over $70 million guaranteed.

All of which boils down to a complete overreaction to Kirk Cousins’ inevitable departure in free agency.

Cousins has a 26-31-1 record as an NFL signal caller. He’s coming off his worst year as a full-time starter in terms of completion percentage (64.3%), passing yards (4,093), yards per attempt (7.6) and interceptions (13). Frankly, I always understood the Redskins’ reluctance to pay top dollar for Cousins, and don’t believe finally deciding to move on is the worst idea in the world.

But letting Cousins walk, only to TRADE for and replace him with a similarly-talented-yet-older version of the same player makes little sense. If the goal is to keep the team competitive, this deal may very well achieve that. If the goal is to overtake the Eagles — much less the Cowboys or Giants — for division supremacy and eventually win a Super Bowl, Smith hardly seems capable of providing Washington that spark.

Let’s be realistic and blunt: Smith is roughly the same caliber of quarterback as Cousins.

Smith accounts for below-average arm strength with pinpoint accuracy and near flawless decision-making. What the 12-year veteran lacks throwing a football, he makes up for with scrambling. Most of all, he won games in Kansas City, with a 51-30 record in five seasons, during which time he completed 65.1 percent of passes for 7.2 yards per attempt with 102 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. To be honest, I might take Smith over Cousins.

Of course, Smith won a lot of those games because he was the caretaker of a talented team, typically built on running the football and a stout defense. When the Chiefs needed him to be more than a game manager, he wasn’t. Smith was 1-4 in the playoffs for Kansas City. None of this retelling even touches on his time with the 49ers.

Long story short and spoiler alert wrapped into one, this is not the move to put the Redskins over the top in 2018. Probably not 2019, either. Likely never. Most people would feel confident in saying that.

Maybe Washington intends to draft and groom a quarterback, just as the Chiefs did, which is the reason Smith was available in the first place. If that’s the case, the price of a mid-round pick and a capable slot corner for a proven tutor might look modest down the road. The Redskins select No. 13, and that doesn’t sound like the most terrible idea — the fact that teams can always sign transition QBs in free agency notwithstanding.

Except, if the concept is any further out of the box than Smith once again playing the role of placeholder, just in a different locale, then the Redskins' front office has cemented the franchise’s spot in the bottom half of the NFC East for the foreseeable future. Barring major upgrades at multiple positions, they won’t be a legitimate Super Bowl threat for several years to come, at the very least — and that’s if they don’t miss on the quarterback.

A third-round pick and a young, respectable defensive back may not seem like a steep price to pay. Yet, considering how little the swap appears to have improved Washington’s team, it seems fair to ask: Why bother?

An offseason should not and cannot be judged by one decision alone, but the Redskins appear further from winning a championship of any kind today than they did yesterday. And, no, that’s not because Cousins is gone.

It’s because Washington’s front office appears so desperate to replace a middle-of-the-road quarterback with another middle-of-the-road quarterback. Needless to say, the 2018 draft will be interesting to follow — in a few weeks, once Eagles fans begin to care.

Eagles rival shakes up its QB situation with big trade

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Eagles rival shakes up its QB situation with big trade

WASHINGTON -- Two people with direct knowledge of the trade say the Kansas City Chiefs have agreed to deal quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins.

The people spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday night on condition of anonymity because the move can't be completed until the start of the new league year in March. One person tells the AP the Redskins have agreed to a four-year extension with Smith, who had one year left on his contract.

Smith, who turns 34 in May, spent the past five seasons with the Chiefs, leading them to the playoffs four times while throwing for 102 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. He carries a $17 million salary-cap hit for 2018.

The trade spells the end of Kirk Cousins' tumultuous tenure with the Redskins after back-to-back seasons on the franchise tag.

Jaguars: QB Bortles recovering from wrist surgery
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had surgery on his right wrist last week to fix a problem that kept him on the injury report all season.

The team confirmed the surgery Tuesday. ESPN first reported the surgery.

Bortles dealt with the issue in his throwing wrist throughout the season. He appeared on the injury report every week but did not miss a practice or a game.

Jacksonville picked up the fifth-year option in Bortles' rookie contract last year, guaranteeing him $19 million in 2018 if he's on Jacksonville's roster the first day of the league year in March. The Jaguars are prohibited from cutting Bortles if he's hurt or recovering from an injury.

Bortles completed 60 percent of his passes in 2017, with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also was sacked a career-low 24 times.

Panthers: All-Pro center Kalil to retire after 2018 season
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Panthers say two-time All-Pro center Ryan Kalil plans to retire after the 2018 season when his contract expires.

Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond confirmed the news on Tuesday.

Kalil becomes the second long-time Panthers player to announce he is retiring after next season. Outside linebacker Thomas Davis told NFL.com earlier this month the 2018 season will be his last.

Kalil, who turns 33 in March, was plagued by neck and shoulder injuries the last two seasons that limited him to 14 games. He had hoped to play more after the Panthers signed his younger brother Matt Kalil to play left tackle last offseason.

Kalil has started 129 games during his 11 seasons with the Panthers and been to five Pro Bowls. He was named All-Pro in 2013 and 2015.

Ravens: Harbaugh to serve as guest analyst during Super Bowl
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh is serving as an analyst during NBC's Super Bowl coverage.

Harbaugh will provide insights during the pregame, halftime and post-game shows of Sunday's matchup between the Eagles and Patriots.

It will be the second time Harbaugh has been a guest Super Bowl analyst for NBC. He provided analysis during the Patriots' Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks to cap the 2014 season.

NBC will announce the rest of its coverage details later this week.

Why a coaching job won't hinge on Eagles-Cowboys

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Why a coaching job won't hinge on Eagles-Cowboys

DALLAS -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says coach Jason Garrett will return for an eighth full season after Dallas missed the playoffs in a year marred by the six-game suspension of star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Jones said on his radio show Tuesday that Garrett's job "is not an issue here at all" while suggesting that there could be changes to the coaching staff with several contracts expiring. Garrett has two years left on a five-year deal signed after Dallas won the NFC East in 2014.

The Cowboys (8-7), who finish the season Sunday at division champion Philadelphia, lost their first three games without Elliott before winning three straight to stay in the race. Dallas lost a playoff elimination game to Seattle last weekend in the return of last year's NFL rushing leader.

Garrett has made the playoffs twice in seven seasons. He is 67-55 including the postseason and half the 2010 season, when he took over after Wade Phillips was fired (see full story).

Patriots: Team signs longtime Steelers LB Harrison
James Harrison is no longer the odd man out or the oldest man in the locker room.

The ex-Steelers star signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots on Tuesday, three days after his unceremonious departure from Pittsburgh.

The 39-year-old linebacker posted a photo on Instagram showing himself with 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady in New England's locker room, writing that he finally has "a teammate that's older than me!"

The AFC North champion Steelers released the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker and 2008 NFL defensive player of the year on Saturday to make room for right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who is returning from a suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing substance policy.

"We make the decisions we feel give us the very best chance to win," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday when asked why the team didn't release a different player to make room for Gilbert. "We needed the people we kept. We needed to activate Marcus Gilbert. Really, it's nothing more than that."

A day before, Tomlin had said following Pittsburgh's 34-6 win over Houston that clinched a first-round playoff bye that difficult decisions such as this are "just life in football" (see full story).

Redskins: Cousins to start in season finale
WASHINGTON -- Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that quarterback Kirk Cousins would start Sunday's season finale at the New York Giants despite the potential of an injury and no postseason ramifications involved.

"There's no thought to that at all," Gruden said on a conference call two days after the Redskins' 27-11 win over the Denver Broncos.

"Kirk wants to finish out the season. Got to get us back to 8-8. I think finishing on a three-game winning streak is important to a lot of people here. Finishing strong is what we've been preaching here the last 2 to 3 weeks."

Whether Cousins plays for the Redskins in 2018 and beyond is one of the NFL's major offseason questions.

Cousins has played the past two seasons on the franchise tag. The Redskins could go that route again unless the sides agree on a long-term contract or the organization allows Cousins to test free agency. Cousins needs 65 yards against New York to reach 4,000 for a third consecutive season.

Cousins, who has 27 touchdown passes on the season, started all 47 games since taking over as the starter in 2015.

With a win, the Redskins (7-8) would finish with a non-losing season for the third consecutive year under Gruden. Washington has only reached the playoffs once (2015) during the coach's four seasons.

Cardinals: Arians denies report he’s leaving team
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says a report that he and the franchise have agreed to part ways after this season is untrue, labeling it "fake news."

An article in Pro Football Weekly cited "multiple sources" as saying the split would come next week at the end of Arians' fifth season as the team's head coach.

But Arians said on Tuesday that no decision on future seasons has been made. The 65-year-old coach said he'd never met the article's author or knows where any supposed meetings on the subject took place.

Arians can become the winningest coach in Cardinals history with his 50th victory at Seattle in the season finale on Sunday.

Arians is 49-32-1 in five seasons with the Cardinals, including the postseason. They are 7-8 this season.

Packers: Fired food worker charged in Lambeau car rampage
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A fired food service worker is charged with ramming other vehicles at Lambeau Field in Green Bay last week.

Forty-year-old Chay Vang was charged Tuesday with two felony counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and five misdemeanor counts of damage to property. USA Today Network-Wisconsin reports Vang's cash bond was set at $10,000.

According to the complaint, Vang was working for Delaware North at Lambeau Field when he got into a fight with a 25-year-old co-worker during a Green Bay Packers game on Dec. 3.

The complaint says Delaware North investigated and fired Vang. The former co-worker was getting out of his car in the employee parking lot last Friday when Vang allegedly drove into the car and repeatedly smashed it.

Five vehicles were damaged. Vang told police he rammed the car because "he wanted justice" and no one was listening to him.