WASHINGTON — Leave it Dan Snyder to try and steal a division rival’s thunder during Super Bowl week.
While the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots take center stage in Minneapolis, the Washington Redskins owner and his underling Bruce Allen put in place a blockbuster deal to get Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs. On the surface, it looks like a good deal. But upon further review, it’s typical Redskins spending big for someone else’s trash while undervaluing their own young, homegrown talent.
Yes, Smith is coming off a season in which he set career highs in passing yards (4,042), touchdowns (26), and QB rating (104.7). But at age 34, Smith is basically an older version of the guy you’re getting rid of.
That’s right. Kirk Cousins and Smith have posted eerily similar numbers over the last three years. Neither has enjoyed any real playoff success. Yet, Smith is getting a four-year contract extension worth $94 million with $71 million in guarantees, while Cousins is getting shown the door.
The Redskins never really looked as if they wanted Cousins back, and by now, the feeling is mutual. So now Cousins gets his wish — a wide-open shot at the free agent market to get paid his market value — and the Washington team will likely get a compensatory draft pick that offsets the third-rounder they sent to Kansas City.
The biggest crime of all is that the Redskins have committed the sin they swore they wouldn’t do to keep Cousins — mortgaging their ability to build a competitive football team, particularly on defense, by overpaying a quarterback. Giving Smith such a lucrative extension without even knowing whether he’s as good a fit in Jay Gruden’s offense as Cousins is the kind of needless desperation that led to the team’s 2010 trade for Donovan McNabb, which, ironically, was another product of an Andy Reid’s wizardry with QBs.
Thus, the biggest issue of all is the team giving up one of the their brightest young defensive stars. If you’re not familiar with Kendall Fuller, he was the Redskins’ third-round pick in 2016. Were it not for concern over a knee injury, the Virginia Tech product easily would have been a first-rounder. He’s the Redskins’ second-best corner behind Josh Norman, and he’s certainly the future at that position considering he’s just 22 years old and has two more years on a cheap, rookie contract.
It’s also quite telling that Fuller’s teammates (and the man that drafted him) aren’t happy.
Forget for a moment that the Redskins are dealing one of their best young players and didn’t have the decency to tell him to his face. How do you make this deal and not offer up someone like Su’a Cravens, another 22 year-old with first-round talent that likely doesn’t have a future in Washington? That’s still a good deal for the Chiefs, considering everyone knows they want to move on from Smith to make room for Patrick Mahomes, who they traded up to get in the first round of last year’s draft.
I get that the Redskins aren’t in position to get one of the top-rated rookie passers in the NFL Draft. I get that entering 2018 with Colt McCoy under center won’t sell many tickets or win many games. But if the Redskins had spent the same money to extend Smith to lock Cousins up long term in 2016, this seemingly endless soap opera would have ended long ago — and they wouldn’t have had to carelessly use a rare, young, homegrown defensive stud as a trade garnish in a way that smacks of the infamous Champ Bailey-Clinton Portis trade of 2004.
That deal netted an AFC West team a top flight corner and brought the Redskins a productive offensive player on a team going nowhere. It’s amazing how history seems to keep repeating itself for Snyder’s Redskins.