Josh McDaniels had an agreement in principle to coach the Colts. He bailed out of it to stay with the Patriots.
The Redskins and Chiefs have an agreement in principle for Kansas City to send Alex Smith to Washington in exchange for a third-round pick and Kendall Fuller. And Smith has agreed in principle to a four-year contract extension with the Redskins.
Could someone in the Smith deal pull a McDaniels and bail out?
The short answer to the question is yes. As the old business adage goes, verbal contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. NFL rules prohibited McDaniels from actually signing a contract with the Colts prior to the end of the Super Bowl. The rules also don’t permit trades to be officially consummated prior to the start of the league year, which is at 4 p.m. on March 14. Since Smith can’t be traded yet he can’t sign a contract extension with the Redskins.
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Just like McDaniels had a change of heart, the Chiefs or the Redskins or Smith could have second thoughts and bail out of the deal.
It’s unlikely because of the reputations that would be at stake. The only individual who faces a massive loss of trust in the McDaniels situation is McDaniels himself. If he ever is hired as a head coach outside of New England, teams will be very cautious about dealing with him. The reputation of Bob LaMonte, McDaniels’ agent, may take a hit but he has a large stable of coaches and executives among his clients, including Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan, so he will be bruised but will survive.
But a couple of individuals with damaged reputations is one thing. An NFL team backing out of a deal would be far more damaging. McDaniels can just stay with the Patriots and he’ll be fine. If the Chiefs find a better offer for Smith and call off the deal, they will have a difficult time dealing with the 31 teams in the NFL. And, unlike McDaniels, they have to deal with the 31 other teams throughout the year on a variety of matters. A loss of trust would be damaging at best, crippling at worst. The Redskins would face the same issues if they decided to back out of the trade.
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Either the Redskins or Smith could bail on the contract extension. If the team did, they would face the same loss of trust that they would if they called off the trade. Smith might be able to survive if he called it off. He just needs to find one team to sign him to what likely will be the last contract of his career. Although agent Tom Condon, named the second most powerful agent in sports, would be able to survive he likely would do everything in his power to convince Smith to honor his verbal commitment.
But if any of the parties find that the reasons for bailing out are compelling enough to accept the damage that would come from doing so, it could happen. The chances are slim but it’s one of those never say never situations.
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.