In a shocking move Tuesday, the Kansas City Chiefs sent quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins, a move that blows the minds of many across the NFL and sends Redskins QB Kirk Cousins into free agency.
There has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding Smith’s long-term standing with the Chiefs after the team traded up to draft rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes No. 10 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. No one knew for sure what the team planned to do, as Smith still had one year left on his deal with the Chiefs. And while no one is really ‘shocked’ that the Chiefs decided to move on from Smith, the abruptness and manner in which they moved him surprised even his teammates.
“Actually, I was at dinner when I found out,” said Chiefs standout rookie running back Kareem Hunt. “I kind of just stopped eating. I was a little bit in shock. You know, Alex is such a great leader, a great quarterback, and he’s a competitor. Loves to win. He’s a guy you want on your team, and after a great season like this, it’s kind of heartbreaking to see him go.”
Hunt had nothing but great things to say about Smith, who has already signed four-year, $94 million extension with the Washington Redskins, including an insane $71 million guaranteed.
“I can say this: the Redskins are getting a quarterback who’s going to go out there and compete,” said Hunt. “He’s going to want to win more than anybody. I’ve seen Alex do some thing when he ran the football, just diving for the extra yard, diving over people, trying to get the last inches, get the first down. You know, you don’t get that out of many quarterbacks like Alex. Especially being 33.”
The Chiefs aren’t left with nothing, either. In return for the veteran quarterback, the Kansas City receives a third-round draft pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. Additionally, they have a QB ready to go in Mahomes. And while Hunt and others on the team are sad to see their leader leave, they feel confident in Mahomes and his ability to pick up where Smith left off.
“I know what we’re getting from Mahomes, and that’s my best friend on the team,” said Hunt of his draft classmate. “We came in together, went to rookie mini-camp together, and we always talked about we got to be the future, me and him. Just seeing Mahomes step up in that last game he played in, he did a great job. And just—the guy’s got a strong arm and can make plays at any time and definitely having a guy to come in and start now in him, I just can’t wait to see what he brings to the table.”
So, the Chiefs have their guy, and the Redskins have their guy. Where does that leave Kirk Cousins? Just this week, Cousins was joking about how he would gladly play under a franchise tag again for the Redskins if they didn’t offer him enough money in a long-term deal.
Well, Washington is tired of negotiating, so now he’ll have to look for that payday somewhere else.
Cousins has said in the past that he would be willing to play for the Cleveland Browns, and the Browns have the most cap space in the NFL this offseason (which means he’ll have no problem becoming the highest-paid player of all-time with them), but they also offer no chance of winning. Instead, Cousins might look for a team that desperately needs a QB to add to a decent defense and overall franchise, much like the Denver Broncos.
Broncos players might be able to see the future, as they started recruiting Cousins after their Week 16 loss to the Redskins.
“In my opinion, we’ve already drafted a quarterback, first round a couple years ago. So we’ve tried that,” said Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, speaking on John Elway’s strategy to get the team back to the top of the AFC in the post-Peyton Manning era. “I think he’s going to get a free-agent quarterback. I think he’s going to go spend some money and fix the position, you know, because it’s kind of a toss-up with these rookie quarterbacks. You never know.”
Washington beat Denver 27-11, and Cousins clearly impressed a few of the Super Bowl champion defensive players.
“I mean, there’s a couple guys other there,” continued Marshall. “You know, we played against a guy in Week 16 that was pretty good. There’s a couple guys out there.”
As Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller put it bluntly: “Kirk could take us over the edge.”
The Broncos will need to come up with a nice chunk of change to bring Cousins in, but they really want him. Your players have spoken, Elway, the ball is in your court now.
On Sunday ESPN reported that the Redskins were considering placing their franchise tag on Cousins so they can trade him to recoup a portion of the compensation that’s going for Alex Smith to Kansas City. This would prevent the quarterback from being a true unrestricted free agent so that he wouldn’t be able to go wherever he wanted. Once again, the team is causing some NFL shakeup as this move could impact other NFL teams approach to free agency and the draft.
Cousins would have been the NFL’s top available free agent drawing interest from Arizona, Denver, the New York Jets and any other team in need of a great quarterback, but that tag would put a halt to this. The Redskins want to have a say where he goes, but Cousins could put the team into a challenging spot.
Washington wouldn’t be able to trade him until he signed the franchise tag, and with this power, Cousins could delay signing for however long he wanted which would force the team to count his $34.5 million against their salary cap.
Keep watching as Washington will be deciding on this move over the next few weeks as teams can being designation franchise players beginning Feb. 20.
Cousins could make this work in his favor if the Redskins try to control his next move.