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.