Stop the quarterback shopping. The Redskins have their man. But they are paying a pretty big price.
The Redskins have dealt for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. To get him, they gave up a third-round pick in the 2018 draft and a player to be named later.
With the Alex Smith deal, which can’t be completed until the league year starts on March 14, the Redskins are out of the quarterback market for the next few years, at least as far as the starter is concerned. They will move on from Kirk Cousins, their starter for the last three years, and go with Smith, who will turn 34 in May.
The Redskins didn’t want to pay Cousins, but they are going to pay Smith. He was in the last year of his contract and he will make $17 million in the 2018 season. According to reports, he has agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $23.5 million per year with $71 million guaranteed. As always, it is best to wait for the details of the contract to come out before judging what the impact will be.
That is a hefty price to pay for a quarterback who has been solid but not spectacular over a career that has spanned 12 seasons. He spent the first seven years in San Francisco after they made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft. He never really got traction as the starter there and after Colin Kaepernick broke out and led San Francisco to the Super Bowl, Smith was traded to the Chiefs. He has made the Pro Bowl three times in his four seasons there.
Now Smith comes to a Redskins team that has had trouble breaking out of the middle of the NFL pack despite some solid quarterback play from Cousins. Smith has led the Chiefs to 11-win seasons in three of his five years there.
Where does this leave the Redskins and Cousins, who had just became the first quarterback ever to finish two straight season playing on the franchise tag? Certainly going their separate ways. There was plenty of speculation that the Redskins would try to put a tag on Cousins and trade him. With Smith in hand it would be very difficult for them to apply a tag without eating up most of their remaining salary cap space of about $35 million after counting in Smith’s current deal.
So, are the Redskins better off or worse off after getting Smith and moving on from Cousins? We won’t know for sure until the season starts, and the games begin. Smith certainly is a good quarterback. But, as Scot McCloughan said of Cousins, he’s not special. If we are to believe the chatter that has persisted for the last year or so that Cousins does not want to stay with the Redskins, they made the best they could out of the situation.