Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Jan 2018

Redskins Will Trade for Smith, Sign Him to Extension

The Washington Redskins have agreed to trade for Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith, and will sign him to a four-year extension with $71 million in guarantees.

This obviously means Kirk Cousins will be allowed to hit free agency, and that Patrick Mahomes will be the starting quarterback for Kansas City in 2018.

UPDATE: Adam Schefter reports that Washington's half of the trade is a 2018 third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller, who was a third-round pick in the 2016 draft. Fuller has played 29 games in his two seasons as a professional, starting 12, and had four interceptions this year. He had the second-most pass defeats of any cornerback in our defensive numbers, and fourth-most total defeats, while allowing a middling 7.5 yards per pass target. His pass stop rate also ranked fourth. He immediately goes into the mix for a starting role on the Chiefs defense, possibly as the slot cornerback, and might well be their second-best corner.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 30 Jan 2018

92 comments, Last at 08 Feb 2018, 12:21am by RickD


by Cythammer :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:08am

Well, that doesn't seem like an optimal outcome for Alex Smith's career. It seemed possible he would end up playing for a strong contender like the Jags or somewhere else with a significant upside, instead he ends up playing for an infamously dysfunctional franchise in a tough division.

For the Chiefs moving onto Mahomes is probably smart but I still bet they are significantly worse next year on offense. A completely inexperienced QB is as unlikely to be as effective as Smith was this season.

by jackiel :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 1:24am

$18 mm per year in guaranteed money at this stage in his career doesn’t seem like a bad outcome for smith. This feels like an ownership driven deal since I’m not sure that smith can take the redskins to heights that cousins couldn’t take them.

Move makes sense for chiefs even if Mahomes isn’t better than average next year given the cost savings. They can use the extra money to improve at other positions.

by serutan :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:37am

So does this mean the end of the Blake Bortles Experience,
given the Jags can now go after Cousins?
Was wr

by Cythammer :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 1:11am

They are said to be planning to keep Bortles next year. Apparently the situation is complicated by the fact that he just had wrist surgery. If he can't pass a medical then he couldn't be cut.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 4:31pm

They just got a few minutes from the Super Bowl with Bortles, and I really wonder how far they'd be willing to go in an incredibly-expensive billing war with Denver, Arizona, and maybe a few other teams. I would bet Jacksonville backs out of the Cousins sweepstakes and instead shoots for a rung down on the QB ladder, and aims at a guy like McCarron or the loser of the Bradford/Bridgewater/Keenum group. If you can get one of those guys for a "low" contract for around $20m/year as opposed to maybe heading up to $28-29m for Cousins, it's much easier to swallow the cost for more competence than you'd get from Bortles.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 5:04pm

With that defence, being in the AFC South and it being the first year under Marrone, you've got to think that the Jags is an attractive place to play. They can afford to go in with a lowball offer to Cousins.

To think that Tony Romo could have gone there last year but then decided to retire as they were rightly perceived as a losing organisation.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 3:47am

the only way I understand this from the Skins perspective is if Jay Gruden is going to be fired if he doesn't make the playoffs. This move at best is a lateral move. I know it was low cost, but it feels superfluous and delays the long term building strategy they are going after with letting Cousins walk.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:37pm

You're assuming a Dan Snyder team will ever seriously have a long term building strategy.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 2:55pm

He gave Shanny 4 out of the 5 years he promised. That's sort of long, right?

by RickD :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 12:14am

The last two of those four were excruciating.

by Bryan Knowles :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 4:40am

It's a very good deal for the Chiefs, considering they essentially had to move on from Smith with so much invested in Mahomes. We'll see how Mahomes pans out, but this is a very solid trade for Kansas City ignoring that fact -- they don't have a first-round pick this year, so this lets them fill their biggest single need by giving away an asset they had little use for, AND get an extra draft pick in the process. Good work.

For Washington, this only makes sense if they believe the years of messing around with Cousins made a long-term deal impossible. It doesn't even remove QB from their list of needs, just downgrades it -- Smith's turning 34, so he's not a long-term solution at the position. So it's not really a terrible decision from a NOW standpoint; it's a terrible situation they've placed themselves in thanks to terrible decisions made in the past.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 5:02am

Seems to me this trade is an attempt to save face by the Washington ownership/FO.

Now they can just let Cousins go and they don't have to face up to getting their butts squeezed in contract negotiations. In their heads, they won because they got a playoff QB. What the rest of us see is the huge mess that surrounds this.

Save even more face by releasing details of the trade early in SB week and by the time the SB is over, it's old news.

by BJR :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 6:32am

I'll choose to reserve judgment from the Chiefs' perspective. Smith is just coming off a season where he threw for over 1000 DYAR; trading away a guy like that, well, I doubt it has happened too often before. 34 is not old for a QB in this era, and Smith has no significant injury history.

We have no idea what Mahomes will be, other than that Andy Reid has hand-picked him. The move up to select him seemed extremely aggressive at the time, for a perennial playoff team with obvious needs on defense. It seems even more risky now that they clearly always intended to move on from Smith, regardless of what he produced in the meantime. Reid gets some benefit of doubt because of his history developing QBs, but boy is he going to look foolish if Mahomes does not pan out.

Edit: lets also not forget that the Chiefs had Nick Foles as backup two years ago! Smith, with Foles as backup, is not the type of QB situation that the majority of NFL teams are desperate to move on from.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:01am

I think there's some reason to question how much of his undeniably excellent production Smith was actually responsible for. "Alex Smith suddenly took a huge step forward at age 34" strikes me as a much less plausible explanation than "the Chiefs have put together a supporting cast that can make a solid but unremarkable QB produce like a world-beater.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:31am

It's not quite that sudden. Smith has been 450-1000 DYAR since about 2011, including his abbreviated 2012 season. He's consistently a top-half starting QB.

He's gotten better under Reid, but his breakthrough was under Harbaugh (or away from Nolan/Singletary).

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:52am

34 is old for a QB in this era if said quarterback isn't going to be a first ballot hall of famer.

The contract runs from 34-38. The list of QBS who didn't decline significantly at some point in that age range is basically Brady, P. Manning, Favre, and Brees.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:49am

Moon, Gannon, Simms, Testaverde, Beuerlein...

Gannon won an MVP at 37. He actually had a higher career AV at 34 and older than under 34.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:00am

I wouldn't consider any of those guys "this era" frankly.

We had massive changes to the offensive environment from 2004-2010. Average passing offense went up by roughly 800 yards.

Gannon won an MVP at 37 and then looked terrible for 7 games at 38, and got hurt. At 39 he got hurt and retired.

Rivers is about the only one in that link who is a positive. Roethlisberger is still too young (35).

by Richie :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 2:05pm

Some other non-HOF who had good seasons at age 34+: Hasselbeck (40, 36), Kerry Collins (38, 36), Jeff Garcia (38, 37), Jon Kitna (38), Brad Johnson (37, 35), Mark Brunell (36), Trent Green (35, 34), Shaun Hill (34), Tony Romo (34), Josh McCown (38, 36, 34), Carson Palmer (38, 37, 36, 35, 34).

Of course, most of those are guys you wouldn't want to be committing $71M to. Or maybe the only reason they didn't seem worthy of that commitment and mostly weren't being counted on as multi-year starters is because of their age. Maybe if Cleveland (for instance) had ignored McCown's age in 2015 and fully committed to him, the Browns would have more than 5 wins in the past 3 seasons.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 3:08pm

Yes, let's look at it from the Chief's perspective. Smith is just coming off a season where he threw for over 1000 DYAR; that means he's extraordinarily likely to regress next year.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:10pm

You make it sound as if it would be better if he were coming off a down season...

by MC2 :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 7:57pm

From the Redskins' perspective, it would have been better, since they could have paid less. Smith's career year was great for the Chiefs, allowing them to sell high, and, of course, for Smith, allowing him to get a bigger extension.

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 02/02/2018 - 1:09am

Exactly. Wash is well known for paying for past performance, because if a guy got 1,000 DYAR last year, obviously that's normal for him forever!

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:43am

It's a very good deal for the Chiefs, considering they essentially had to move on from Smith with so much invested in Mahomes.

This is simply a statement without evidence. The Chiefs aren't especially profligate in terms of QB spending. Mahomes' cap hit is like $3M; these aren't the days of old rookie contracts.
His cap hit is on the order of Hoyer's, or Foles's, or Bridgewater's. Do those teams have "so much invested" in those backups?

by SandyRiver :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:40am

"So much invested" probably refers more to draft capital than dollars.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:54am

I realize. And I get how the economics can favor starting a slightly worse guy who is much cheaper, but you need to be extremely confident you get more net bang from the cash savings than from what you would have gotten from a better starter.

Was San Diego better off with Rivers than Brees? Would Arizona have been better with Leinart than Warner? Should the Seahawks have started Flynn over Wilson?

by Pat :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:32pm

They did just get a quality player and a decent draft pick, too. So it's not like they just tossed Smith for the cost savings alone.

But I agree with you that the "the Chiefs had so much invested in Mahomes" was a bad statement. The right thing to say is that they had to move on from Smith because they believe Mahomes was a good investment in the first place.

by dank067 :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 1:40pm

Exactly. If Mahomes is as good as they hope he will be they'll probably be paying him more than they would have paid Smith (had they extended him) as early as 2020—and be very happy to be doing so. Especially since they'll then have Mahomes locked up well beyond whatever point in time Smith stops being an effective QB. It's a risk, and they may be miscalculating, but they're definitely looking at a bigger picture than just the 2018 salary cap.

To go back to one of the examples above, when the Chargers acquired Rivers in the 2004 draft and subsequently let Brees walk after 2005, they certainly believed Rivers would still be the better QB in the long term. (Rivers was also scheduled to make a ton of money in the back half of his rookie contract so they didn't even really realize any additional value by going with him anyway...)

by Eddo :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:32pm

Sure, but that's the sunk cost fallacy.

by Pat :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:46pm

No, not exactly. The Chiefs going with Mahomes if they knew *nothing about him whatsoever* because they spent a lot of draft capital (or money, or whatever) would be a mistake based on a sunk cost fallacy.

But saying they need to move on to Mahomes because they've invested so much *and they think he's ready* isn't a sunk cost fallacy, it's just a desire to see a return on investment. The longer they wait with Mahomes, the less value they get on his low-cost rookie contract.

by Eddo :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 1:42pm

The "think he's ready" part is absolutely not a sunk cost fallacy. The "invested so much" part absolutely *is* sunk cost fallacy.

All that should matter is if they think he's ready.

by Pat :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 3:14pm

While it shouldn't matter how much they invested in him, it does matter how much they *expect* of him. And they only invested that much because of their expectations, and their expectations can drive whether or not they want to start him. Don't really care about whether or not a 7th rounder is ready, because you don't expect much.

So a better way to say it is probably "they had to move on from Smith because they expect so much of Mahomes." But again, the draft investment implies the expectation, so, it's really not that different.

by Richie :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 2:09pm

There's also the possibility that they know enough about Mahomes to think that he will be a better QB than Smith as soon as 2018.

by Steve in WI :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 2:15pm

I would argue that the rookie contract years of a QB you expect to be a franchise QB are the most valuable asset an NFL team has, and one of those is already gone for Mahomes. Right now, you simply cannot trade up and use two first round picks on a QB and sit him for two years. It doesn't make any sense.

Based on the draft capital invested in Mahomes, the commitment to him was made back on draft day. If he sucks, people are getting fired. Keeping Smith another year isn't going to change that.

by billprudden :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 8:20am

1) I see Smith and Cousins as having very similar net effects.

2) 71m over first 3 years is 23.67m per. Market rates, and very similar to what they could have had Cousins for long-term.

3) So either (a) they think Smith will be better over next 3 years than Cousins or (b) they hate his fucking guts.

4) Either way, starting, inexpensive, young CB better / hate?

by Never Surrender :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:31am

I think you're deceiving yourself if you think Cousins would have signed for anything close to what the Skins are giving Smith. Let's wait and see what deal he fetches on the open market: whatever he signs for, it would have taken an even bigger offer from the Redskins to retain him.

by billprudden :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:13pm

Yes, if in fact Jets / Broncos / Browns or somebody offers him 20% more, and the Skins knew it was coming, then this begins to make more sense.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:36pm

Its not going to be 20% more than Smith.

The last handful of better than average quarterbacks in Cousin's rough age range got roughly 22-27m per year, 4-5 years. None of them were free agents - none of them had anywhere near the leverage Cousins has.

5 years 125 is the absolute baseline (Carr, Stafford, Luck, etc), and 5/135 is what Stafford got. Most likely we'll see something like 28-29m per year, and 6 years for 6/175.

He's good, he's young, and he's a free agent. That never happens with QBs.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 4:22pm

I think the odds are somewhere in the neighborhood of 100% Cousins signs the richest contract in NFL history. Potentially good QB draft class aside, there are a load of teams needing a QB, and simple market economics is going to drive his price higher and higher. If Stafford gets $27m/year while still under contract, Cousins is getting more than that.

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 4:50pm

My question is - should they? Someone showed below the Flacco contract and what a poison pill it has been for the Ravens. Could Cousins be the next Joe Flacco except without the superbowl ring to providing the pre-justification?

The real issue it seems to me is a classic agency problem. In the nba - coaches can go on 4 year losing streaks and not be fired. In the nfl, that is simply unheard of. If you aren't in the playoffs in three years, you are fired. So qb needy teams will spend on Cousins because their staffs will be gone. But that doesn't mean its worth the cost.

This, I think, goes back to the whole moneyball approach. If a team really did want to build a contender - the right way is to do what the browns did(up until Haslam lied and stepped in) and hoard valuable draft picks.

by Travis :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 5:00pm

In the nba - coaches can go on 4 year losing streaks and not be fired. In the nfl, that is simply unheard of.

This isn't true in the NBA other than for Brent Brown and the Sixers, who intentionally tanked for years. In general, NBA coaching spans are shorter than in the NFL.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 5:13pm

It doesn't matter whether or not you should, it's just what you need to do. Yes, you can go into the season with someone who's never been notably good, and you get Case Keenum Magic. Or you get Josh McCown or Denver's platoon of sadness or Blaine Gabbert, which is far more likely. Your choices are either (A) paying a lot of money for the likelihood of QB competence (B) hoping for QB competence. (B) sometimes happens, but it usually doesn't, as there tends to be a reason career backups are career backups.

The Flacco contract was weird, because Flacco peaked in four games right before that contract, and they won it all. It was a largely impossible situation for Baltimore, and it's not like they had any other choices in that case. Also, I thought he signed that extension before he hit the market; Cousins is going to play multiple teams off each other.

So, yeah, I think some team should make Kirk Cousins the highest-paid player ever, because he gives you a chance to have good enough QB play you can win. He won't carry you, but when do those guys ever hit free agency?

by Richie :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 7:54pm

I think everybody expected the Flacco contract to be bad for the Ravens. I wonder if even they expected it.

Cousins is better than Flacco. Basically, Cousins in his worst season (probably this year) is as good as Flacco's best season (probably 2014).

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 8:34pm

I never expected Flacco to be this awful. He's like a bottom third, blake bortles level qb.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:58pm

"Bottom third" is a pretty generous description of most of Bortles' career.

by Richie :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 7:46pm

Is there a precedent for a 30-year-old free agent QB of Cousins' caliber on the open market? Brees was under 30 and Peyton Manning was over 30, but they were both injury risks.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 11:49am

Guys who were exactly 30?

Nearest I can come it Brad Johnson to the Redskins in 1999 and Rich Gannon to the Chiefs in 1993. They would face each other in a Super Bowl, but neither with those teams.

by Travis :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 1:42pm

Neil O'Donnell was coming off his age-29 season (and a Super Bowl start) when he signed with the Jets in 1996.

by Richie :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 2:16pm

I just meant guys under about 30 years old. (Cousins will technically be 30 once the season starts.)

Interesting and probably not surprising that neither of your examples, nor Kirk Cousins, were originally drafted in the first 2 rounds.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 3:47pm

Former 1st rounder Daunte Culpepper was 28 when he left the Vikings for the Dolphins as a free agent. Of course like Brees that year he was injured so there were doubts about whether he'd recover. He didn't, Brees did.

8th round pick Trent Green left Washington at age 28 after a breakout year, headed to the Rams, broke a leg in preseason and got supplanted by Kurt Warner. Then it was onto a decent career with the Chiefs.

Basically you just don't let QBs unless they're injured, past their prime or unproven. Really just shows what a mess Washington made of all this.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:04am

Smith strikes me as fitting the profile of QBs like Hasselbeck, Schaub and Pennington who have not aged particularly gracefully. Is there an example of a similar player producing at a high level in his late 30s?

by jtr :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:50am

Schaub's Pick Six Orgy happened at age 32, which strikes me as a very young age for a QB to collapse. Hasselbeck's last useful season was at age 36, which would be the second to last season of this Alex Smith deal. Pennington was ravaged by injuries so I'm not sure it's fair to include him, but his last healthy season was a very effective one at age 32. Jay Cutler's last good season was at age 32. Donovan McNabb was ok in his age 34 season for Washington, then pretty bad at 35 and out of the league at 36. Just a random selection of good-not-great QB's off the top of my head.
So it's probably pretty unlikely that Washington gets 4 good years out of Smith, but not unreasonable to think they could get about 2 decent seasons here. Still looks like a big loss compared to locking down Cousins' prime.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 7:56am

$71m in guaranteed money seems like a lot for a player who hopefully has a couple more years of being good but not great left in him...

by jtr :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:04am

Some random first impressions:
1) This is just the latest stage of Washington's long term bungling of the Cousins situation. They're throwing away a decent pick and a good player for the right to pay a market rate contract for a QB who is a little bit worse than Cousins. Somehow this is even a worse outcome than just paying Cousins.
2) I think KC's offense can be a lot of fun next year. They have some elite skill players in Kelce, Hill, and Hunt. If Reid lets Mahomes play his ballsy gunslinger brand of ball, that would be a hell of a lot of fun. If Reid thinks Mahomes still needs the training wheels, they can stick with the 1001-ways-to-throw-a-screen playbook at the start of the year and then ease in more of the intermediate and deep stuff through the season.
3) This makes Arizona the frontrunner in the Cousins sweepstakes I think. Washington and San Francisco had been the clear leaders last year, but they're obviously both set. Arizona is probably the closest to being a veteran QB away from contention. I could see the Jets as well, maybe Buffalo since they seem to hate Taylor's guts. Cleveland showed with the attempted McCarron trade that they are willing to go for a vet instead of a rookie, but we'll have to see if Cousins is willing to go somewhere he has a good chance to not win a half dozen games.

by billprudden :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:24am

Regarding your #3 - As crazy as this sounds, I'm not sure Cleveland's roster on May 1st will be that much worse than Arizona's, esp if Cleveland signs Cousins and uses draft picks 1 and 4 on position players. I certainly like Cleveland's OL better. The big difference for me between those two clubs is, so far, Arizona's willingness to spend up to the cap vs. Cleveland's desire to find its floor...

by ChrisS :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:57am

Another big difference is the quality of coaching, although how big this gap is with Arians retiring is somewhat of an an unknown.

by dryheat :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 2:50pm

This has Denver written all over it. Although Jacksonville is probably the best fit, given their defensive talent, run game, and no state tax. I'm not convinced they're keeping Bortles to start in 2018.

by jtr :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 2:54pm

You're right, I forgot about Denver. Elway would love to snap up a veteran QB to replace his sad gang of failed prospects. Plus he obviously loves all things Shannahan.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 3:16pm

Except Kyle. Ugh. Fucking Joseph

by johonny :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 3:27pm

Arizona seems to like people with Cousins MO. The Ravens might finally be ready for a new QB in town. The JETs failed to suck last year and might be shopping for talent at QB too.

by jtr :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 4:07pm

Ditching Flacco this offseason would actually RAISE his cap hit for 2018 from $24M to $28M. So they're committed to him for at least one more season. Come 2019 they could cut him if they're willing to eat $16M against the cap vs $26M if they keep him. But in the meantime, there's no way they can afford to have both Flacco and Cousins on their roster.

The Jets and Browns each have about eleventy gazillion dollars of cap space next year, so either one of them could give Cousins whatever he wants. Probably would make sense for either of those teams to heavily frontload his deal so they can eat up cap space now and have him cost less later when they're (presumably) more competitive.

Denver's cap space is in the mid-$20M's, and I think Arizona will end up in a similar place once Palmer's salary comes off the books due to retirement. So they'll each have room to sign Cousins but might need some creative accounting if they're going to sign anyone else this offseason. Buffalo would have $38M if they cut Taylor, which they would presumably do if they were close to a deal with Cousins.

by PatsFan :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:22am

I was wondering how the logistics of this work. KC can't actually trade him until March 14th when the New League Year starts. And they can't trade him until he's under contract.

But if KC signs him to that extension and trades him, doesn't that make the amortization of the guaranteed money accelerate and hit their cap?

He could presumably sign with KC for vet minimum, get traded, then have he and WAS tear that up and sign the 4-year deal. But that's very dangerous for the player.

Maybe a tag and trade?

Just curious about how this all works.

by billprudden :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:25am

I think they've merely announced intent. No paperwork, nor $, for weeks.

by jtr :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:36am

I think KC could sign him to a contract with no signing bonus, which means they're not on the hook for any dead money once he leaves the roster. I don't think they would ever be on the hook for non-bonus guarantees that haven't paid yet. Then if Washington needs cap relief on the contract this season, they can restructure his deal to turn some of the year 1 salary into signing bonus to spread it out over the whole contract.

by apk3000 :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:17am

Alex Smith still has a year on his contract so I don't see an issue there. The Redskins are giving a four year deal extension to that deal (so five years total)

by PatsFan :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:40am

Ah! I thought he was a UFA.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 9:49am

The only way this makes sense to me is if "The Redskins won't give Cousins a long term deal" was really "Cousins wasn't interested in a long term deal from the Redskins".

This isn't a huge contract - but its a huge contract for an Alex Smith that will be 34 before it starts, and just had a year that seems like a big statistical outlier.

by Never Surrender :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:34am

It does all come down to the fact that Cousins did not want to be in Washington. He wasn't going to sign here for anything close to his market value.

by Coaldale Joe :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:30pm

That's probably the biggest problem the Washington franchise has, they need a captive QB because anyone with the right to choose where they play, would choose to play somewhere else. Unless, they cared more about cashing checks than winning.

Whether Smith is a captive is an arguable point, but since he is under contract for one year, and since the Chiefs were going to trade him, he has basically zero control on where he spends 2018. At his age, he stands to lose a LOT of money if he has a bad season either due to injury, age or just playing for a basket case team with a douche of an owner like Washington. So, I argue this trade makes him a captive because if he doesn't sign an extension he is shouldering an unacceptable amount of risk. It will be interesting to see though what he actual terms of the extension are, and how much is really guaranteed, etc.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:43pm

My guess at this point is that the trade is contingent upon extension terms.

by jtr :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:58am

One other thing to point out is that a lot of the value that Smith provides in the Reid offense comes from pre-snap reads. And Mahomes is uniquely well suited to pick up that part of the offense. The Texas Tech Air Raid scheme relies a ton on pre-snap reads, audibles, and run-pass options to get the team in the right play to attack the defense. So it's not a situation like, say, Brett Hundley at UCLA where the QB never had to make a more complicated decision than "is that guy open".

by jtr :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 2:08pm

Oh man, it just occurred to me that the Skins had signed Donovan McNabb for 5 years/$78M for his age 34 season. That's eerily similar to the 4 years/$71M we're hearing here. Who would have guessed that Dan Snyder never learns his lesson about expensive old free agents? I'm hoping Alex Smith goes Full Haynesworth just to spite him.

by billprudden :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 2:28pm

If Smith shows up to camp at 300 pounds, does Gruden just buy a plane ticket and be QB coach for his brother?

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 4:06pm

Why should he wait?

by DraftMan :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 10:33am

McNabb and Smith weren't FA signings, they're trades with an Andy Reid-coached team.

by jtr :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 4:23pm

Apparently Cleveland was asking after Smith this offseason too. Sounds like they're really hungry for a veteran QB. Given they're the Browns, I totally expect them to fail to land Cousins and get whoever ends up being the odd man out--Tyrod Taylor, Blake Bortles, or Paxton Semen.

by Steve B :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:05am

Or AJ McCarron. Or Sam Bradford.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 1:43am

See? PLENTY of great QB talent in the NFL

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:00pm

Taylor has experience operating a talentless-offense being actively undermined by the coaching staff.

He might actually be too good for Cleveland.

by Steve in WI :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 2:22pm

Although I am generally not a fan of paying Cousins the NFL-record contract he is likely to get, I think Cleveland is the rare place where it actually makes sense on one condition: that Cleveland has evaluated the QBs in this draft and decided they see greatness in any.

They have so much cap space that they can afford to overpay Cousins. As much as I consider him to be a guy who will probably never win a Super Bowl, he's still a good QB, so just installing that level of competence helps develop the rest of team on offense. And that would leave them with the 1st and 4th overall picks and no desire to draft a QB. If they could find someone willing to give up a ton to move up to #1, they could get a haul of valuable picks and still take an impact play at #4.

Armed with the extra picks they'd acquire from trading down, they would be well positioned to draft a QB they think will be better than Cousins next year, or the year after, even if Cousins immediately vaults them into the 5-6 win range where their own pick won't be top 5. The way guaranteed money in contracts is structured, I assume they could be rid of Cousins in as little as 3 years...or, if he plays about the same as he has been playing, surely someone would gladly trade for him in 2019, or 2020, or 2021.

All of that is moot if they think their stud franchise QB is in this draft...then take him #1 and see. But if they are unsold on the draft QBs, I think paying Cousins would be far, far better than thinking "we have to draft a QB this year no matter what."

by Sixknots :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 5:09pm

Cousins to Cleveland makes sense for the Browns. But does it make sense for Cousins? Sure, they can overpay him and they have the draft capital to put quality play makers around him. But why is their head coach employed? There has got to be some photos.

by Pen :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 6:14pm

Wouldn't you think Denver would be at the top of that list? They've needed a quality QB ever since Manning left and Cousins is the best quality to come along.

by Richie :: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 7:55pm

Jacksonville and Cleveland have needed a quality QB longer than Denver.

by jtr :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 9:46am

That doesn't really have anything to do with this though; this isn't the kidney transplant list. Denver's money is as good as anyone's, and they're certainly a more attractive destination than Cleveland.

Jacksonville is in a tough spot financially to upgrade at QB. Bortles is on his fifth year option in 2018, which means that on the March 14 (which is the first day of free agency), his $19M salary becomes guaranteed. So they either have to cut him at the start of free agency and gamble that they can snag an upgrade, or end up carrying two expensive QB's in 2018. They're currently showing about $16M in cap room, so unless they cut Bortles, they will have to do some creative accounting to snag a top free agent QB--some combination of restructuring the contracts of their top defenders and making the Cousins/Bradford/whoever contract very heavy on bonuses for the first season.

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 02/02/2018 - 1:08am

What team is waiting to snap up an FA Bortles for $19M/year though? That's not a terribly risky scenario IMO. What teams would give him $15M? There's possibly a few.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:01pm

Chicago has been waiting for 33 years.

by Richie :: Thu, 02/01/2018 - 2:18pm

Presumably, they think they have one now. At least they won't be trying to replace him yet.

by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 02/02/2018 - 1:48pm

Denver would have 40 million in cap room at most this year. It will be hard for them to compete with the contracts the Browns and the Jets could write. Also, the Jets have the lowest draft pick of the three, and therefore the most reason to sign Cousins. Yes, Cousins would prefer to sign with the Broncos in terms of winning a championship. Of course, that offensive line could get him killed, and the Browns actually have a good offensive line. And would you prefer to play for Hue Jackson or Vance Joseph? Todd Bowles doesn't look that bad compared to them right now. I agree, looks can be deceiving, but at least Bowles has won ten games in a season as a head coach.

by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 02/02/2018 - 1:44pm

An interesting article on Gang Green Nation commenting on the new Caponomics book (written by one of the Over The Cap writers):https://www.ganggreennation.com/2018/2/1/16959122/making-cousins-work
This piece, as well as several articles on OTC, point to the real reason the Patriots have contended year in year out for so long: Brady's cap number. He has always counted about 10 percent of the cap or less even though he's given them Hall of Fame quarterbacking. Without that, the Patriots don't sign Stephen Gilmore, and perhaps that 4 and 14 for Jacksonville goes a lot better for the Jaguars and horribly wrong for the Pats.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:40am

"The real reason" right you figured out the secret finally! Great work

Oh my god I hate the overthatcap people. I can't think of a single rational argument somebody's made after citing them.

by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 1:34pm

You're right, it took forever.

You are a Broncos fan, correct? Get back to me when they win the Super Bowl after signing Cousins. Peyton was different; he was possibly the GOAT coming off neck surgery, and so the Broncos got him at a relative discount.

But who are we kidding? The Jets will sign Cousins, not make the playoffs for the next ten years, and the Broncos will win another championship or two once Chad Kelly emerges as the next great late round quarterback.

by RickD :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 12:21am

Kendall Fuller was considered locally to be the best player in the secondary this year for the Redskins. PFF rated him as the 5th best CB in the NFL this season. And he's very young, esp. in comparison to Alex Smith.

Feels like a poor man's version of the Champ Bailey/Clinton Portis trade. If Fuller can rise to Bailey's level, this trade is a disaster. Fuller could be an All-Pro while I'm guessing Smith will be the Redskins QB about as long as Donovan McNabb was.