Washington Redskins

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.

Washington enters offseason with more questions than QBs

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Washington enters offseason with more questions than QBs

very week this season we’ve taken a look at how the Eagles' NFC East rivals have been doing… and for the most part, it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, like listening to a great love song or eating a box of Cheez-Its. Alas, like that box of delicious cheesy crackers, our time enjoying the demise of the Giants, Cowboys, and Washington has come to an end. At least for this season.

Without further ado, here’s a look back at what happened, and what’ll be happening, in the NFC East. Our "savoring the Giants season" here, and Washington below. Come back for Dallas tomorrow.

Washington (7-9)

2017 Headline: “At Least We’re Not The Giants!”

What Happened: If the 2017 Giants were a slapstick comedy movie, 2017 Washington was like watching an overhyped sequel; some exciting bits but for the most part tremendously disappointing.

After nearly beating the Eagles in Week One, Washington actually started the season 3-2, including what was an extremely impressive (at the time) shallacking of the presumably-playoff-bound Oakland Raiders on Sunday Night Football. 

Then came a Monday Night Football game in Philly, where Washington got steamrolled by the Wentz Wagon 34-24. Jay Gruden’s squad would never really recover, dropping three of their next four to a bunch of teams that ended up making the playoffs. There was a stretch from late October till Thanksgiving where Washington could have put themselves squarely in the “IN THE HUNT” playoff graphic every football show likes to use. Instead they feel flat, like “Independence Day: Resurgence” or “Speed 2: Cruise Control.”

A lot went wrong for Washington this season, especially in the injury department, as the team looked like a M*A*S*H marathon where I was the only one laughing. Their most dynamic player, Chris Thompson, went down to injury. Their best offensive weapon last season, Jordan Reed, barely played at all. And their big offseason addition, Terrelle Pryor, never got in sync with QB Kirk Cousins and eventually was put on injured reserve when they couldn’t trade him back to the Browns. By the time the season was mercifully over, Washington had twenty separate guys on injured reserve, including offensive lineman Trent Williams, who essentially played the majority of the season on one leg.

The 2017 season may have been the grand finale in Washington for Cousins, whom Jay Gruden spit at on his way out. Blaming Cousins for the team going 7-9 is like blaming your basement flooding on the fact that its underground and completely ignoring a massive thunderstorm; the first part definitely didn’t help, but it’s not the main culprit. Gruden may regret being so mean to the only starting QB he’s ever coached when his team is forced to pay Sam Bradford $18 million this offseason.

Positive Spin: Well let’s start with the big one: Dan Snyder didn’t get into any trouble. Like, zero trouble. Sure, there was a little smoke suggesting he was the only ally to Jerry Jones when the Cowboys owner went toe-to-toe with Roger Goodell, but haven’t we all? No news is good news when it comes to the owner of the Washington Football Team, so props to Danny Boy for staying out of everything.

And regarding the QB, well… like a peanut butter sandwich or a movie starring Will Patton, there’s really nothing special about Kirk Cousins. And like the sandwich or Tom Hagan’s portrayer, Cousins definitely can flash brilliance, but it’s not something you really want to build around. So his departure can certainly be spun positively by Washington fans in need of a silver lining.

Had Washington made the playoffs again, or had they even put together a winning season, Snyder may have felt compelled to give the YOU LIKE THAT Vine some of that Matthew Stafford money. How well has that worked out for Detroit? The correct answer is: how well has *anything* worked out for Detroit?

Negative Spin: So Cousins isn’t the answer; where does the team go from here? It’s like telling me I can’t have a ChocoTaco for breakfast -- okay, we’ve established what we can’t have, but I’m still hungry and gotta eat.

It’s a similar spot to where the Iggles were when Chip Kelly declared Nick Foles his starting QB for the next 1,000 years; he (and we) knew Foles wasn’t the greatest option, but finding the greatest option at QB isn’t as easy as scarfing down a couple of early-morning ChocoTacos. 

When Cousins first starting stealing playing time from Robert Griffin III, he was an interception machine the likes of which hadn’t been seen before in modern NFL history. The 76ers Big Bella t-shirt gun had less off-target shots than this guy. And yet he developed into an above-average option, and what NFL history tells us is that it’s entirely possible for an above-average QB to win a Super Bowl. Just ask Brad Johnson, or Trent Dilfer, or Eli Manning.

If Washington had signed Cousins to a moderate extension a couple years ago, they could be spending this offseason trying to build up a suspect defense, rather than looking for ways to acquire the likes of Teddy Bridgewater or A.J. McCarron. Kirk wasn’t the final piece of the puzzle, but it’s fair to argue he could have been *a* piece of the puzzle.

Oh, and speaking of “the ones that got away,” this fanbase is going to regret letting Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan walk. Mark that one down.

What’s Next: A search for a quarterback. Remember two years ago when Howie Roseman made a flurry of Houdini-esque trades to move the Birds into position to draft Carson Wentz? That’s what Washington has got to be hopeful for, though most fans of the franchise are still suffering from football PTSD over the draft day trade for RG3. Of course, if they can’t swing something, Washington fans may start getting flashbacks of the 2011 year featuring Rex Grossman and John Beck (both of whom, rest assured, are currently available).