The Washington Redskins took the easy way out and overpaid to do it.
Trading for Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith was more an admission of Washington’s refusal to negotiate with incumbent quarterback Kirk Cousins after botching contract talks the last two years. Better to start over with an older passer than give Cousins his rightful money that would serve as a daily reminder of past errors.
Indeed, the Redskins were so adamant over moving on from Cousins that they gave away emerging cornerback Kendall Fuller, plus a 2019 third-rounder for Smith. There was no reason to include Fuller in this deal. Maybe safety Su’a Cravens, since he probably won’t return to Washington, but has some value another team might harness.
Washington couldn’t re-sign Cousins for one more year at $34 million. That was the worst option. The Redskins might have been able to tag and trade, but it was also risky. The only way out of this mess was to either draft or trade for another passer and the draft was looking iffy. Meanwhile, there are season tickets to sell.
Smith is a decent quarterback. An awful lot like Cousins. His stats under Redskins coach Jay Gruden may resemble Cousins’ numbers of last season.
The only pause is being 34 years old (in May). While Tom Brady and others have shown 34 can be still young, it’s also the gateway to suddenly looking old in the game. How the Redskins structured this deal is crucial and drafting a passer in the next two years is still needed. Just not this year. Save that pick for a defensive lineman.
Redskins fans are never happy over quarterbacks anymore. Sonny Jurgensen’s prime years would be treated with indifference nowadays with critics saying he’d play better weighing 20 pounds less.
Smith faces a doubly-long shadow. Just as Cousins haters invoked predecessor Robert Griffin whenever the former played poorly, so will Cousins backers now mention No. 8 when Smith falls short. It won’t stop – ever – because of also including Fuller in the trade.
That’s too bad. Smith can at least keep the team near .500 for several seasons rather than slip back to 5-11 under a rookie. For a franchise shedding fans rapidly with a 40,000 base now attending games, avoiding a collapse is paramount.
At least Washington is no longer tempted to move up in the draft for a passer and can find a needed defensive lineman at No. 13. Plus, it has increased cap room to re-sign Zach Brown and maybe a receiver.
The Redskins are restocking rather than rebuilding despite losing a starting quarterback in his prime.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.