- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Washington Redskins have reportedly decided their future at quarterback.

The Redskins traded a third-round pick and a player to be named later to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for quarterback Alex Smith — meaning the Redskins will forego negotiating with Kirk Cousins in the offseason.

In addition, the Redskins and Smith agreed to a new contract extension — four years, $94 million with $71 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. Because a deal cannot be official until March, the agreements are in principle.

Smith will be 34 next season and was scheduled to make $17 million on the last year in his deal.

Smith’s arrival to the District starts a new era for the Redskins. Instead of deciding whether to franchise tag Cousins or negotiate for a long-term deal, the Redskins are going all-in on a quarterback who threw for a career-high 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns last year.

A former No. 1 overall pick in 2005, Smith has made the Pro Bowl three times in his career. His skillset is similar to Cousins‘ — he’s a passer who can make plays by extending the pocket and being accurate with his throws.

The knock on Smith has been that he isn’t effective throwing the deep ball, but he averaged a career-high 8.6 yards per attempt this season. He thrived under Chiefs coach Andy Reid in their five seasons together.

But the Chiefs drafted quarterback Patrick Mahomes with their first-round pick last year, signifying the eventual end for Smith in Kansas City. Smith and the Chiefs brushed off the pressure to play Mahomes all season, particularly in a four-game losing streak from the end of November to December.

The Chiefs rebounded and made the playoffs, but were eliminated in the Wild Card against the Tennessee Titans.

The Redskins, meanwhile, made no contact with Cousins once the season was over, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The two camps couldn’t reach a long-term deal, dating back to the 2015 season when Cousins‘ agent advised the quarterback to turn down an extension.

The move proved to be wise advice, as Cousins blossomed in the next two seasons. While the Redskins didn’t make the playoffs, Cousins threw for more than 4,000 yards each season. He did so in 2017 with a large chunk of the offense injured.

Cousins, who played the last two seasons on the franchise tag, now becomes a free agent on the open market. The NFL has not had as enticing as an option for a quarterback on the market since Peyton Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts in 2012.

Cousins, though, is unique in the sense that quarterbacks in their prime rarely become available. The 29-year-old will have a long list of suitors, most likely including the Denver Broncos, the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals.

The decision to move on from Cousins wraps up a failed marriage that began on rocky ground when Cousins was drafted in 2012 in the fourth round to be Robert Griffin III’s backup. At the time, the goal of the Redskins was to develop Cousins so they could trade him for an asset.

Instead, he became a player the franchise deemed too expensive to keep. Redskins coach Jay Gruden told reporters last week at the Senior Bowl that it doesn’t make sense to invest “$500 million” in one player.

The number was an exaggeration, but was a nod to how Cousins‘ price rose each offseason. In 2016, the Redskins opted to franchise Cousins because they wanted to see if his 2015 season wasn’t a fluke. In 2017, Cousins turned down an offer from the Redskins, preferring to see how the team performed in the upcoming season before committing significant years.

The decisions led the two back to the same place they were three seasons ago. If the Redskins elected to franchise Cousins this time, it would have been a one-year, $34.5 million deal.

Gruden and Cousins both admitted during the month that they were pessimistic the “year-to-year” approach could work in the future.

The Redskins‘ management ultimately agreed — trading for Smith instead.

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