At long last, the Washington Redskins have answered the Kirk Cousins conundrum. Washington will acquire Alex Smith from Kansas City, meaning Cousins, who played the last two seasons under the franchise tag, is on his way out of D.C.
What do we make of this move by the Redskins?
“It’s not going to be popular with you or anyone listening, but I like it,” Washington’s The Fan host Chad Dukes said on Ferrall on the Bench. “The absolute horrificness that has been the boondoggle of Kirk Cousins coming finally to an end, I’m intoxicated with the idea of not having to debate Kirk Cousins’ contract moving forward. Smith, I think, is good enough in a system like Gruden’s to get you to 9-7. They absolutely still need to draft a quarterback, but I seem to be one of the few people that enjoy this trade.”
Smith, 33, will sign a four-year deal with Washington that averages $23.5 million per year and includes $71 million in guarantees. That’s a relative bargain given Smith’s track record.
“You could have done a lot worse,” Dukes said. “I am absolutely thankful they have finally admitted it’s not going to happen with Cousins. Slapping a $34 million franchise tag on him would have been absolutely ludicrous, and this move represents a lot more than just a 34-year-old quarterback that clearly is a stopgap.”
Smith turns 34 in May.
Cousins, meanwhile, will be one of the most sought-after free agents in football. He has 94 touchdowns (81 pass, 13 rush) over the last three seasons, during which he’s averaged just under 4,400 passing yards per year.
Dukes believes the Redskins misplayed their Cousins hand from the start.
“Think about after Aaron Rodgers gets his contract, after some of the other guys are up and the quarterback money might be even more ludicrous,” Dukes said. “If you dummies would have signed (Cousins) beforehand – Matt Stafford gets his deal, Derek Carr gets his deal – it looks like a bargain, whereas it looks like a rip-off two years ago. They’ve got cap space, they’ve got draft picks, they’ve got some talent – they got guys coming back who contributed in a meaningful way all over the field. Everybody nows what they have to do right now: they have to put talent around Alex Smith, and they have to draft a quarterback that Gruden likes that fits his system. They were in a playoff hunt, if you want to call it that, until two weeks left in the season.”
Still, Dukes does not believe Cousins is a franchise quarterback. Washington hovered around .500 in his three years as a starter, finishing 9-7, 8-7-1 and 7-9 in 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively.
“God bless Cousins. I’ve got nothing against him. He seems like a good dude,” Dukes said. “But anyone that’s going to go ahead and give that guy $28 million a year, you better not need to beat the New York Giants in Week 17 – because it ain’t going to happen. Make sure you check your schedule if that is the case. I’m over the moon that they’re not locked into that ridiculousness – but it’s their fault. They botched this from the jump. In 2015, Scot McCloughan was trying to resign Kirk Cousins and it didn’t take place. That ship has sailed. This is a nice gap-bridger.”
It also beats the alliterative of, say, letting Cousins walk and trotting out a backup in 2018.
“If they would have gone with Colt McCoy, you would have 20,000 empty seats from the jump moving forward,” Dukes said. “I don’t think Dan Snyder could have stomached that.”