- - Thursday, March 15, 2018


This is the guy. Their guy. Alex Smith.

He’s not Mike Shanahan’s guy. I’d say he’s not Scot McCloughan’s guy, but it was McCloughan who drafted Smith as the No. 1 pick in 2005 for San Francisco. But he’s not McCloughan’s guy here in Washington.

He’s all theirs — Dan Snyder, Bruce Allen, Doug Williams and Jay Gruden. They own the decision to trade for Smith.

Williams testified to that ownership Thursday at a press conference to introduce Smith, who officially became a Redskin the day before when the trade that sent cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round draft pick to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for the 33-year-old quarterback became official.

Smith has signed a three-year contract extension that could pay him $94 million when all is said and done, $71 million of which is guaranteed.

“This whole brain trust of personnel, we all got together — Bruce, Dan, who don’t do anything but listen — and kind of let us do what we wanted to do,” said Williams, the team’s vice president of player personnel.

“We knew somewhere along the line we had to find a quarterback. We went through them all,” Williams said. “We knew in order to get the guy we wanted, we would have to trade for him. We didn’t know if we would get the guy or not. But there was a consensus of everybody in the room … and we came up with Alex Smith. We had to find a way to get it done. But it wasn’t easy. There were a few teams that wanted Alex Smith. He chose us, and he chose us for a reason. It’s because of who we are.”

Neither owner Snyder nor Allen, the team president, chose to speak Thursday, leaving Williams to do all the talking for upper management.

“We’re glad he chose us for the next five years, and if we have to add a couple of more years to it, we’ll do that too,” Williams said. “We’ll take seven. You can play until 40 Alex, you can do it.”

When it was his turn at the microphone, Smith said all the things the new guy is supposed to say about his new team.

“I think for me it’s very clear their desire to win, from top to bottom,” he said. “The competitiveness, from top to bottom, the stakes, the urgency, and it starts at the top and trickles down into the room and sets the tone. I think you have to have that sense of urgency every day when you go about your business. That competitiveness, that sense of urgency and desire to win a championship, it has to start up top and that was very clear to me.”

Hmmm. OK, but if it is so clear to everyone, year after year, press conference after press conference, why is it so hard to accomplish?

If the Redskins chose Smith, he said he chose them as well.

“I think as a quarterback you spend a lot of time watching film … certainly from afar, everything that has taken place here over the years, the system, the guys here, it looked fun,” he said. “I wanted to be part of this.

“From afar you see a team that is put together really well — pass, run, the direction, all the things that go into being a good offense.”

Smith is very polished, and clearly a smart guy. “As you can see, he’s probably smarter than me, and I’m not a big fan of that,” Gruden said, jokingly. He followed that up with, “It’s not about what I like. It’s about what he likes and what he is comfortable with.”

And they say Kirk Cousins was disingenuous.

There was no mention Thursday of that quarterback, who was busy earlier in Minneapolis with his own press conference, answering questions about his historic three-year, fully guaranteed $84 million deal with the Vikings.

“We’re not looking in the rearview mirror,” Williams said. “We’re going forward, and that’s where we are today. So everything today is moving forward, not behind, and we’re going to treat it that way today.”

No, this day was about hello — not goodbye.

The Redskins are really good at hellos. They even had handshakes and hugs, remember, for that new coach who couldn’t even get the colors of the team right.

It’s the goodbye that Smith should prepare for. And there will be a goodbye. There always is, always has been now for nearly 20 years, the kiss-off instead of the kiss to welcome you.

You can be sure, based on past performance, it will be bitter and petty, like the one we just saw with Cousins’ departure.

What will they say about Smith when he is gone?

I’m sorry, but there is a cleanup on aisle four that needs taking care of before we can move on.

“Of course, the team was going to low-ball him in contract negotiations these past three years,” writer Tom Friend wrote in The Sports Capitol. “After six seasons, the Redskins knew him all too well. I know for a fact the front office couldn’t get past the season-ending Giants pick of 2016. They remembered the panicked (so-called) intentional grounding at the tail end of last season’s Saints game, plus the sacks he took for the good of his passer rating.”

Then again, this is what Friend told “SportsTalk” on NewsChannel 8 in 2016 when the Redskins said goodbye to Robert Griffin III:

“You don’t think this kid can play?” Friend asked. “The chip on his shoulder now is going to be through the roof, and for this team to think that releasing him is the right move?… Get him out of your division if you’re going to get rid of him, but to me, I don’t think he’s done by any stretch. I could go through a million reasons why he’s not done.”

Good call.

By the way, how do you think Cousins’ $84 million day played in the Griffin household?

Hopefully, the Redskins will now suspend the smear campaign against their former quarterback.

If they can stop feeling insecure about the success that Cousins will likely have in Minnesota, maybe they can start feeling good about the Alex Smith era.

It won’t be easy.

Cousins was given the keys to the franchise by an organization with a front office and coaching staff that won 13 games last season, making it to the NFC title game with a journeyman third-string quarterback who just got paid $36 million by the Denver Broncos.

And the Vikings said goodbye not just to that quarterback, Case Keenum, but two others in Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater and handed the team over to Cousins.

The Redskins have good reason to feel a little insecure about Cousins. If their castoff flourishes in Minnesota, his success, of course, will be the ultimate measuring stick for the trade, the Redskins and Smith — who very well may be up to the task.

If so, that should be enough for everyone. After all, Smith is their guy.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.

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