With the Redskins trading for veteran quarterback Alex Smith last night, the NFL was turned on its head and set the wheels in motion for many others moves down the line, but what does it mean for fans of the Redskins? We spoke with a fan to find out!
Joining us today is site contributor, @TheRyanWalsh, who attempts to make sense of what the Redskins were thinking, and what it means for the team both on and off the field.
The news that Alex Smith was heading to the Redskins broke last night, with Washington sending a pick and a player back, what was your initial reaction when you heard the news of the trade?
Walsh: Initially, I didn’t think it was horrible. smith was on an affordable deal for next year, and i thought “giving up a third and a rotation player for financial flexibility while not losing much at QB isn’t terrible.” Everything that happened after proved me wrong.
It seemed like a good trade on the surface, but with the rumored Smith extension he signs with Washington, how do you feel about the trade knowing how much he’s going to earn now?
Walsh: It just doesn’t make any sense. The whole reason a trade was an option they would even considered was because they failed to sign Cousins to a long term deal two years ago when they had the opportunity. Why make Cousins play two “prove it” seasons then immediately lock down his replacement – who’s 4 years older? Why give a long term deal to someone who’s hasn’t been in your organization when you’re strangely against paying someone who’s been a key member of your squad? Not to mention the fact that Smith is also going to make $4 million more this year than he was previously owed. So a 33-year-old set to make about $20 million for one year is now making somewhere in the ballpark of $24 million per year for four years. It really just doesn’t make any sense when you consider that Cousins would have definitely signed that deal with the team had they offered to him in 2016.
Weighing the options, would you have preferred the team throw the bank at Cousins to keep him would you rather have Smith? And does Smith make the Redskins better, worse, or kinda the same?
Walsh: I think whoever signs Kirk will probably have to pay north of $30 million to do it. Cousins is a good quarterback, but at that price I think signing him wouldn’t give the team the financial flexibility to address other positions of need. I hate this trade because it cost the Skins a commodity in slot corner Kendall Fuller, who’s a big part of our defense in a position of need. That being said – if you’re just comparing Cousins and Smith – it’s impossible to say Kirk had a better 2017 than Alex Smith. Their yards and touchdowns were equal, but Cousins was responsible for 26 turnovers this season – 13 interceptions and 13 fumbles. Smith, on the other hand, committed just 7, 5 interceptions and 2 fumbles. The Redskins have struggled with ball security for years, and I think people overlook how valuable Smith’s ability to not commit turnovers can be.
What does this mean for their long-term plans with an older QB? We don’t know all the details of Smith’s deal, but I don’t see all of those years being guaranteed, do you think the team looks at project QBs in the draft this year as an eventual replacement, like the Chiefs had waiting in Patrick Mahomes?
Walsh: It would be hard for me to imagine the Redskins drafting a QB in the first round this season, but as they showed again last night, it’s impossible to predict what they’re going to do. For all of the Redskins blunders managerially, the team has actually done a great job drafting in the past few years. Recent first rounders Josh Doctson and Jonathan Allen have been banged up recently, but are showing a lot of promise, and the Redskins have a lot of more pressing concerns that they need to address with a first rounder this season. They’ve also been able to hit on contributing players in the later rounds. Which is where, if they planned to draft a QB this year, would be the place to do it. Colt McCoy is a serviceable backup, and it would just seem cruel to put Alex Smith back in the fire of having a top round QB to compete for the starting job. Alex Smith is coming off a career year, and while he is getting up there in age, hasn’t really showed signs of slowing down, and doesn’t have a severe injury history. I think next year or the year after would be the time to draft “YOUR GUY” to come in, maybe take a season to learn from Smith like the Chiefs did with Mahomes, then start him as a second year guy and hope he has a breakout sophomore season in the vain of Goff or Wentz.
Last one, with the (probable) cut down in turnovers, do you think that alone is enough to get the Redskins back into the playoffs, or is it too early in the off-season to tell?
Walsh: The biggest factor for the Redskins contending for a playoff spot will be staying healthy. Josh Norman, Trent Williams, Zach Brown, and Chris Thompson all lost games due to injuries last season. The team trotted out around 30 different combinations at offensive line because they were so banged up. If the Redskins have any shot of making the playoffs, they can’t have that happen again. I think it’s going to be hard to compete in the NFC East again this season. The Giants have a high draft pick and OBJ coming back, Zeke Elliott will be back for a full season in Dallas, and the Eagles are playing in the Super Bowl and will have an injured Carson Wentz coming back. But one thing Jay Gruden has done a nice job of, even when the team was at its most injured, was keep them competitive. The team may have been bad at times, but they played with high energy, and that may help you win a game or two that you probably didn’t expect. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the draft and the rest of free agency, but it wouldn’t shock me if the Redskins still had a shot at the playoffs come December next year.
Thanks for Ryan for taking time out of his day to answer some questions, we wish him the best with Alex Smith as his favorite team’s starting quarterback.