Washington Redskins

Michael Bennett's strong message to NFC East QBs

Michael Bennett's strong message to NFC East QBs

It wasn't quite a WWE throwdown message, but Michael Bennett definitely put NFC East quarterbacks on notice during his introductory press conference at the NovaCare Complex on Monday afternoon.

He's coming for them.

And so are the rest of his defensive line teammates.

"I know Eli Manning is probably watching this and thinking, like, yes I'm coming," said Bennett, whom the Eagles acquired in a trade with the Seahawks. "I know Dak (Prescott) is watching this like, 'Yeah, he's coming.' Yeah, I am.

"And Alex Smith, he knows he can't run from me. I told him at the Pro Bowl. So it's definitely going to be a great season and it's going to be fun to chase quarterbacks. I just know third down it's just going to be ... and second down and first down, it's just going to be fun."

When Bennett, 32, named all three of the starting quarterbacks from the NFC East, he was actually answering a question about comparing the defensive schemes from Seattle and Philadelphia. Bennett began by saying that he played with some great players in Seattle, before saying he doesn't think there's a tight end in the NFL that can block him.

From there, he started to name the QBs.

Manning in New York. Prescott in Dallas. And recently-acquired Smith in Washington. They'll all be seeing Bennett twice this season.

Bennett is basically replacing Vinny Curry on the Eagles' defensive line, and Haloti Ngata is basically replacing Beau Allen. While Curry and Allen are younger, many think Bennett and Ngata are improvements in the short-term, which means the strength of the Eagles' defense from 2017 is even stronger in 2018.

While Curry had just three sacks in 2017 and has gone over the four-sack mark just once in his six-year career, Bennett has had at least five sacks in all of those last six seasons. Bennett has 48 sacks since 2012 and has been a Pro Bowler in each of his last three seasons.

While there was a report that surfaced saying Seattle was trying to part ways with socially active players, Bennett said he didn't give it much credence. His relationship with Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll goes beyond football and he knows Seattle was just trying to unload him to get something back in return; it's part of the business.

It seems likely that in Philly, Bennett will get a chance to play both inside and outside. His versatility was used in a similar fashion in Seattle, but he also played a ton of snaps, which he won't have to do in the Eagles' rotation. It should keep him fresh.

And it will probably keep opposing quarterbacks up at night.

Redskins' trade helps Eagles

usa-alex-smith-chiefs.jpg
USA Today Images

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

uspresswire-chiefs-alex-smith.jpg
USA Today Images

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.