The Washington Redskins look to have made a preemptive strike in a transaction that could reshape the NFL offseason, pulling the trigger on a trade for Kansas City Chiefs starting quarterback Alex Smith, Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star reports.
It’s unknown what the Chiefs will receive for trading Smith, who has now been traded twice in his career, but this figures to be a seminal moment given the quarterback market.
This figures to point Kirk Cousins to free agency, and the impending unrestricted free agent stands to be the best quarterback available on the market since Peyton Manning in 2012. Washington applied the franchise tag to Cousins in 2016 and ’17, and commenced lengthy negotiating processes, and was reportedly considering using it a third time, but that would have resulted in an untenable $34.5 million salary. Instead, Smith and a $20 million cap number is going to the nation’s capital.
Smith played with the Chiefs for five seasons, leading them to four AFC playoff brackets in that span. But Kansas City’s postseason woes largely continued, with the team going 1-4 in the Smith era. The Chiefs also traded their 2018 first-round pick to move up and draft Patrick Mahomes at No. 10 overall last April. K.C. was expected to unload Smith this offseason because of Mahomes’ presence and Smith’s deal clearing $17M off the Chiefs’ payroll. Considering the Chiefs were projected to be nearly $10M over the 2018 cap, this move will provide relief.
No trade can take place until the new league year opens on March 14, but Cousins will be tied to the Redskins for more than a month now as he prepares for the final season of his contract. Smith is coming off his best season as a pro, surpassing 4,000 passing yards for the first time and tossing a career-high 26 touchdown passes.
Cousins started for the Redskins for the past three full seasons, unseating Robert Griffin III. He has delivered franchise-record setting work over the past two years, with his 2016 yardage total (4,917 air yards) and 29 passing TDs in 2015 representing Washington records.
Now, he looks to be headed toward free agency. Teams like the Jets, Broncos, Cardinals, Bills and Browns stand to await and create a bidding war for the rare franchise-level quarterback that reaches the market.
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