Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 1, 41 days before NFL free agency starts.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 29
—NFL Draft (4/26) 84
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 220

Why Fuller?

Some more thoughts about the Alex Smith deal:

—Why did the Redskins include Kendall Fuller in the trade? Because it was the only way the deal was going to get done. It’s not like the Redskins said, hey, how about we throw in Fuller? The Chiefs wanted him, the Redskins wanted Smith and that was the deal to which the parties agreed. It’s that simple.

—Some have wondered why a deal had to be made at all. With Patrick Mahomes waiting in the wings to take the starting quarterback job, Smith was a luxury the Chiefs could not afford. Before the trade, the Chiefs were about $9 million over the cap. Smith had to go and perhaps if the Redskins had waited it out they could have signed Smith for no compensation. But they would have remained in limbo at the position and the Chiefs could have dealt him to another team. In addition, there was no guarantee that they could have signed him if he had been cut.

—I don’t think that anyone argues that Smith and Cousins are comparable quarterbacks. They are in the “good” category, below the level of elite and special quarterbacks, but they also offer competence and stability that many other signal callers do not. The Redskins did not get a major upgrade to the team in the deal. Sometimes you have to make a trade not to get better but to prevent getting worse. This was one of those deals.


—The four-year, $94 million contract extension the Redskins will give Smith once the deal is finalized on March 14 also was needed to get the deal done. The Browns reportedly offered one of their second-round picks in exchange for Smith. However, they did not want to give Smith a contract extension of that length. They viewed Smith as more of a short-term fix to bridge the gap until the quarterback they plan to take in this year’s draft is ready. But Smith was not interested in that role, preferring to go somewhere that was committed to him for at least the next three or four years. The Chiefs accommodated him and now he will be wearing burgundy and gold this fall.

—Another reason why the Redskins had to make this trade was due to their unwillingness to face the strong possibility that Cousins was not going to sign a long-term deal. They should have known this since they put the franchise tag on him prior to the 2016 season. The only backup plan they came up with was 2016 sixth-round pick Nate Sudfeld, who didn’t impress anyone enough to earn a second season. The smart way to handle the situation would have been to spend a mid-round pick on a quarterback to develop. Had they done that, they might not have been such a desperate situation with only Colt McCoy under contract. In fact, you could argue that they should have started to plan for the future in 2014 when the future of Robert Griffin III started to turn cloudy. But they didn’t look to draft any insurance and they paid the price for being in a position of desperation.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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