Mr. Smith Comes To Washington

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 02: Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs is chased by outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan #91 of the Washington Redskins during the game at Arrowhead Stadium on October 2, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

I’ll give my football team this much: we don’t do anything subtle.

The bolt-from-the-sky news of the Alex Smith trade on Tuesday night has put a jolt into not just the DC market for sports radio (“Take” Forecast: Snowmaggedon!) but it has energized the upcoming free agency period and put the Super Bowl below the fold (at least for a day).

On the whole…. it’s… well… okay. I guess.

Grading the trade, depends entirely upon your backstory narrative on how we got to this point. Whose “fault” was it that Kirk Cousins refused to sign a “reasonable” deal for the last two off-seasons?

If you think the Redskins did their level best to keep a “Good+” QB coming into his prime, but were stymied by an obstinate (principled?) firebrand hellbent on being the “Tag-Slayer” – then this deal was a reasonable escape.

If you think the Redskins blindly refused to accept market realities for starting QBs, and cynically kept moving the goal-line on Kirk’s big payday – all the while reminding him in subtle ways about how he still disappoints them – then this deal was another panicked Redskins debacle.

Your choice.

Alex Smith is a high character guy, who I think will play well in this league deep into his 30’s. Any comparison of the last time we bought a horse from The Andy Reid Ranch, should stop right now. Donovan McNabb lasted less than one year here, was traded to Minnesota for a 6th (Alfred Morris! DING!) started 6 games, went 1-5, and then was OUT of the NFL at 35 years old. McNabb then ballooned up to nearly 300 pounds, racked up two DUIs, and was fired from ESPN for allegations of sexual harassment.

This is not going to be Alex Smith.

Smith means the Redskins will have a season next year, and a team to care properly about for the foreseeable future. This should not be discounted. Hell hath no waiting room of misery, quite like an NFL franchise without a bonafide starting QB.

That said…. this deal by Bruce Allen is almost exactly like something “Jerry from Arlington on Line 3” could have proposed to me on my radio show. It’s a retail-price-plus lateral move, that reeks of fantasy football. Sure, Alex’s stats looked almost identical to Kirk this year.

Good luck replicating that with our guys in a darker shade of red. Heck, odds are Smith’s career season last year, will remain just that until he’s no longer in the league: a career season. Smith had Kareem Hunt, Tyreke Hill, and Travis Kelce last season. Kirk had Fat Rob, Josh Doctson, and an injured side portion of Jordan Reed.

The money for Smith is not insignificant. Sure, it’s likely 15% less than the ransomware number Kirk was going to ask for, but you aren’t gaining much salary cap speed with this move.

The kicker – and kick to the ribs – was losing slot-corner up-and-comer Kendall Fuller. While we shouldn’t over-react as if we are giving up Deion Sanders 2.0, it hurts to take your best value pick in many years and shipping him to KC just to salvage Bruce’s 2 year losing streak at the Kirk Roulette table.

Ultimately, as a Redskins fan, I’ll fall in line behind Alex Smith because what choice do I have? As for Kirk himself, my goodness. It’s breathtaking. He has pulled off the NFL equivalent of Ocean’s 11. Two years at $44M, and now unfettered free agency at age 29, with  no less than 5 teams who will load the boat to go get him. And GOOD TEAMS TOO! (Think: Denver, Minnesota, Jacksonville!)

As Walter White said after blowing off Gus Fring’s face in Breaking Bad: “It’s over… I won.”


  1. I don’t get it–they pay a little bit less money for an older, demonstrably worse QB (a guy who lost his first starting position to Colin Kaepernick), who will have less weapons around him to work with, AND send their most promising young defender to KC in return? Huh?

    It’s not a disaster, but the potential upside is so limited! Redskins management, ladies and gentlemen–dedicated to “winning the offseason”, and being the “smartest” guys in the room.

    • It is a desperate bid for mediocrity. The good thing is that if it fails Allen might finally be done. The bad thing is that if they are just average next year and win six or seven games, the Redskins can and will blame everything on the Eeeevil Cousins, who left them in a lurch with another QB who needed time to adjust to his new team. How rude of him! So don’t be mad at us, be mad at Eeeevil Greedy Cousins!

      The are no depths Allen will not stoop to in order to save himself. He has proven that conclusively over the years.

  2. I for one am thanking the good lord my team is not the Redskins. Because you know with moves like this there is no future of a SB with this current managerial foundation. None.
    So now u gotta replace a quality DB in the draft, but oops we don’t have a 3rd pick cuzz we sent it to the Chiefs along with Fuller for Alex Smith.
    Alex Smith!!! Good lord.

    • The problem is that we have a vindictive, passive aggressive fraud as team president. Bruce Allen wasn’t fired over the RGIII disaster he caused; the Shanahans, who were dead against it and drafted Cousins almost in protest the same year, were fired instead. Essentially for being right!
      We still don’t know what happened with McCloughan. One story is that he didn’t want to sign Cousins while Allen did, and that he was fired over that. But it seems like a much more likely story that he wanted to sign Cousins even if it had to be expensive but was blocked by Allen, and that he was going around the building going “I told you so” until they fired him. Because this is the pattern here. Prove Bruce Allen wrong, get fired.

      You’re right. But the rot is coming from only one place; the top.

  3. They’ll let their best QB in a qtr century go for … nothing. They then get an older, weaker-arm version of what they had, plus give up a valuable 3rd round pick and a very good, young, playmaking DB. Once again, the Skins get hoodwinked and bamboozled. Who the hell let Vinnie Cerrato back in the building?

    • older? check.
      maybe, at best, equal in talent…but really, a guy who has been cut and WHOSE OWN POSITION WAS IN DOUBT ON HIS OWN TEAM. Watching prime time games with KC, weren’t they saying that KC had a nice new QB waiting the wings and Smith’s position was in doubt? So….why would we want the guy.

      We’re not a crap team with no QB. We’re a crap team with a nearly great QB. Give the nearly great QB toys.
      let me guess, he’s also expensive.


  4. so the skins organization is playing for the participation trophy. duly noted. Dammit, why do I love the skins, this is sad.

  5. I guess I’ll play the contrarian here – I like the move. I’m not crazy about giving up Fuller, but if there were 6 teams actively involved in this deal (as is being reported), sometimes you have to negotiate. Smith will be serviceable for 2-3 seasons assuming we can address RB/WR in the draft & continue to build the defense.

    Kirk talked out both sides of his mouth, but the truth is he’s been butthurt ever since the day we brought him here. He seems to forget that EVERY OTHER TEAM passed on him multiple times before we finally called his number. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Kirk’s people advised the FO they absolutely would not sign anything beyond another 1 year on the franchise tag, leaving Bruce to make the best of a bad situation.

  6. I think Skins fans will be happy with Alex Smith. You could have done a whole lot worse if the damage was too great to overcome between Cousins and the front office. Alex smith was two completely terrible choke jobs from Kyle Williams on punt return from going to a Super Bowl. If Kyle Williams only fumbles once and not twice, then the Niners win that game. Yes, he did lose his job when he was injured to Colin K. the following season. That is only because Harbaugh knew he could ride the Kaepernick zone read gimmick for a while. It lasted about a season and a half. Alex Smith was the better quarterback, man, and teammate. I think you guys might be getting the equivalent of Rich Gannon going to the Raiders in 1999. Smith can play.

    • The 49ers went 1-13 on 3rd down in that game. Smith completed 1 pass (ONE) to a wide receiver all game. But yeah it was all Kyle Williams fault.

      • I’ll make a gentleman’s bet that if it’s a 4 point game in the 4th quarter on Sunday and one team muffs two punts deep in their own territory, that team loses. Yes, Kyle Williams is why they lost the game.
        Also, that Giants defense handled Rogers the week prior and Brady in the following game. I can’t believe the Alex Smith hate.

    • I hardly think the point is that we could have done worse. This whole debacle, which started with the drafting of Wonderbob and Kurt in 2012, is the result of the Redskins allegedly not wanting to pay a “mediocre” qb (Curtains is top 6 statistically in every damn category since he got the job. Hardly mediocre.). Yet here they are spending the money they allegedly did not want to spend on a mediocre QB on arguably the most mediocre QB in the NFL, in stiff competition with Andy Dalton.
      It’s not that Redskins fans doubt Smith’s professionalism or his occasional ability to even rise above average for a game here or there. But he has been painfully average for 12 solid seasons in the NFL. Unless those 12 seasons were a fluke and the 2017 season somehow the hidden norm that suddenly emerged when we least expected it, mediocre is exactly what we can expect from him.

      To me the problem is that Smith is just good enough to keep the Skins mired in mediocrity for another four years. Cousins was better than that but had to take over the wreckage of the Wonderbob draft trade and the general chaos of the post-Shanny period. It is because of Cousins that the Redskins have been able to spend three years developing some talent on their roster. It is even quite possible that Smith will get credit for the defense finally pulling themselves together and not being bottom five as usual, or for the solid offensive line (when healthy) that has gelled in front of Cousins. And that will mean that none of the people who deserve to be fired over the ridiculous mishandling of Cousins will be fired. Thanks to Smith. He is essentially swooping in, very expensively, so rescue the unctuous Bruce Allen.

      It is intolerable is what it is.

  7. If you look at the situation in totality from the standpoint that you assumed Kirk was going to leave, and you wind up getting Alex Smith- it isn’t an entirely bad outcome. He is older than Kirk, but he Alex Smith, the dude is in really good shape. He is a good decision maker, and a better scrambler than Kirk. He was top five in Air Yards last year, so he isn’t necessarily the “Capt. Checkdown” everyone makes him out to be. BUT, he did have that one super-sweet toy in Tyreke Hill which allowed him to throw the ball over the top, which was where most of his deep-balls went to.

    I had mixed feelings on Kirk. I think he is a guy that is always going to keep your team on the plus side of respectable, but never going to get you over the top without top level talent around him, unlike let’s say, Rodgers who masks Packers deficiencies and gives them a title shot every year. But I do think he is a Top 10 Quarterback. Actually, I think he is exactly #10….or 11.

    So, if you think the Redskins front office was trying to make Chicken Salad out of the mess they made, I think Smith is as good of result as you could hope for. This offseason will see more major QB pieces moving than any in my memory, so the Redskins figured out which one they wanted and moved first.
    The problem with the deal is giving up Fuller. That is what it cost to make the first chess move, and is the thing that will be the hardest to justify looking back, if he turns into the player everyone thinks he can.

  8. can someone enlighten me? Can’t the Redskins still tag Cousins and then just trade him so they at least get something for him? Why just totally relenquish “rights” to him and get nothing in return?

  9. It’s a lateral move for the ‘skins ultimately….which is why it’s a loss for them since they give up a pick and a corner. Cousins is a bit overrated because of his tendency for turnovers….particularly fumbles. Dude’s got over twice as many fumbles than Smith.

  10. HE (Cousins) pulled it off? As though he was sitting Monty Burns style hitting fingers? No. He has done exactly what was asked with what he has been given from mananglement. Sorry, not sorry. This team deserves every bit of suck karma can give. You go Kirk.

  11. I almost posted without even reading your blog so i wouldn’t be swayed. Then decided how stupid a comment would sound/read without reading your blog. Lordy, I’m glad i read it. I have many of the same thoughts here. Bottom line, you paid slightly less for an older qb that does most of what kirk does. However kirk isn’t as much of a pussy with down field passsing, which opens the running game. Both are really good running qbs, but now you have an older one, so less running years.
    The thing you skins brass failed to understand from day was: pay the man. Make him the #3 or #4 paid qb for 6 years with maybe 70% guaranteed……because he was getting near that with the tag(s) anyway. It would seem like a lot in years 1 and 2, but by years 5 and 6 he’d be the 15th highest paid in the league.
    All the skins brass did was piss kir(t)k off. Now they just grabbed an older wosre version and didn’t save much money. They should have just tanked a few years ago. Now they are stuck in 8-8 land with the 15tj pico for 4 years.

  12. Lolololololol

    Cue the scene where the guy is laughing so hard he can barely breathe, tries so hard to gather himself, almost does it and tries to apologize for his inappropriate laughter, but just can’t help it and falls on the floor laughing uncontrollably.

    I will just never understand fans of professional sports franchises who continue to stick by and suffer in spite of, not just poor management, but pervasive and malignant incompetence backed up only by pure egomaniacal disdain for common sense and basic foresight.

    I’m sorry, I don’t feel sorry for Redskins fans. You are captives of your own volition. This Miami native says “Go Pats!!”

  13. The grade on this move is “incomplete”. Technically the team is currently worse than before the trade because the QB position is essentially the same but they’ve lost one of their better players on a woeful defense (28th in points allowed) and they have one less pick to improve. The real question is what can they do to get better players on defense, better RBs, better WRs, etc.

  14. I’m a Redskins lifer (and even though I’ve been a good father in most respects, I raised my sons to be ‘Skins fans, too), so I’ll keep on rooting and hoping. It’s a shame Allen didn’t play the whole Kirk (or Kurt) situation better, but I guess that water went over the dam two years ago.

    Proposed new Redskins motto: HICHBW (Hey, It Could Have Been Worse) .

    • Or even three years ago. I was hollering when the inevitable move from Robert to Kirk was made that they needed to extend him at reasonable value immediately, before he even set foot on the field against the Dolphins, because it was his last year on the rookie deal. If he sucked you wouldn’t have lost much and he could have stayed out his deal as the backup for another two or three years. But if he turned out to be good you would have made an enormous bargain and not risked losing him or being forced to tag him and drive the price up (sigh…). Of course I thought all along that he would be good, which is why this seemed like such an obvious idea to me.

      Every time he played well that year the price went up and up and up. I was almost hysterical after the Bucs game that they get him signed (Not sure if that would have been legal. But I might have considered it even if it wasn’t) before he played any more good games. Alas, I was ignored. Why don’t people listen?

  15. As a Redskins fan myself, I can say with full validity that Redskins fans love to bitch about every single move this team makes. Is that bitching justified…yea, sometimes but Jesus Christ, people, settle down! Kirk was never going to sign long term here. Is that because of the incompetence of BA and DS? Yea, probably but Kirk was also to blame. So, our options at QB were Colt McCoy, a draft pick or a free agent/trade. HINT: WE WEREN’T GOING TO WIN WITH MCCOY/ROOKIE QB AND KENDALL FULLER PLAYING CB. Fuller was good but slot cornerbacks don’t win Super Bowls. It will be much easier to replace Fuller than it would have been to find a serviceable QB. Alex Smith was the best option and is a QB that we can win with. That being said, I’m all aboard the #FireBruceAllen train but not because of this transaction.

    P.S. Also quit bitching about the 3rd round pick. The team gets that back in 2019 when Kirk walks. So essentially, we traded a slot CB for a Pro Bowl QB…its not that terrible.

  16. The Redskins can draft smart, pick free agents smart, and trade smart. I just don’t get the feeling that the organization is close knit or instills a feeling of family or unity that is needed to create a winning culture. Just a gut feeling. Do I have a solution? Yeah, GoFundMe two billion dollars and I have one. H from Bethesda.

  17. I hope Kirk ends up with the Jets or Browns. Although I hold the ‘skins mostly responsible for this mess, Kirk is a bit of a mercenary. He pays lip service to wanting to win, but his actions to date have shown that he’s all about the dollar and nothing more. Now, if he takes a reasonable market contract from a decent team like the Broncos, then I’ll give him credit, but I would bet at this point he holds someone like the Browns ransom for the most money he can get.

    • This is an extremely team servile viewpoint. He did offer to sign in 2016 at the first tag number (19.5 pr year/48 guaranteed) and was ignored. The Redskins had essentially offered him backup money and were obviously completely out of touch. You’re not haggling for carpets in a Moroccan market here. He was at the time the starting QB of the team and they had already tagged him for 19,5 for the next season. To offer him backup money was insulting and extremely unrealistic.

      My opinion is that Cousins tried to save them from their own stupidity when he went to them with that offer, hoping that reality would set in for them. It certainly didn’t, and they became petty and bitter instead, leaking stuff in the media about him etc.SO he gave up on them and decided to not negotiate anymore and just ride the tags until they had no choice but to let him go.
      I think people are seriously overestimating what Cousins might end up signing for now that he is finally free from this clown show of an organization. If it feels right for him it would not surprise me if he signs with someone for the original deal he offered to the Redskins two years ago. He says it’s not about the money and I believe him. It’s about freedom from the slimy people running the Redskins front office who have treated him like dogshit for six years.

      We’ll see I guess.

  18. Here’s my super-cray-cray take…

    As it stands, nearly a dozen teams in the NFL are QB thirsty and we have 2….maybe 2.5 with McCoy. Isn’t this all trade bait?

    we talk about these defense rich teams who need QB’s…surely they’ll give us a CB and a pick for either QB?

    anyway, I think I don’t understand what it means for Kirk…we can’t trade him or get value? he’s gone gone? So I guess we only have 1.5 QBs?

    Also…good point. Alex Smith had a career season with Zeus, hill, hunt. Kirk made good numbers with … well basically nobody. Worse than nobody.

    • My thoughts exactly (which I posted but they don’t show up for some reason). Technically isn’t Kurk still on the team and could in theory be franchised again by the ‘skins? Then they have the option of trading either Cousin or Smith to 1 of the many QB hungry teams.

    • This only works if they tag him again. And he could rag that out by refusing to sign so they at any moment could end up with 34 mill on the books for next year. It’s too risky because he controls that too. He gone bruh. And he was gone the second the morons tagged him the first time. Because the first tag almost guaranteed the second tag, considering that the Skins had tried all summer of 16 to sign him for backup money and clearly weren’t ready to have a realistic negotiation. If tey didn’t want to come up to even the first tag number there was no way they were even approaching the second one. Well, not until they had a chance to sign the inferior and older Smith. Then the money suddenly was’t important to them anymore. What they just handed to Smith they could have offered Kirk last year and none of this would be happening.

      Just boundless stupidity. Mindboggling stupidity. I’m so proud to be a Redskins fan.

      • yup, I remember listening to how this all worked out and was dumbfounded. Oh, so we’re screwed. got it. meanwhile, the nfl is so QB thirsty that Osweiler got millions. What did they think would happen?

        I would rather have Foles than Smith…but

        • That’s easy to say now. Foles didn’t look particularly shiny a month ago. Obviously in this society of goldfish signing Smith is better than starting McCoy or a rookie in September. But to me it is scandalous that they basically gave up on Cousins after his first year as the starter.
          And I think it was all because of bitterness over the failed RGIII draft and the fact that Cousins was there every day as a reminder of that and the fact that the hated Shanahans had been right all along.

          My respect for Bruce Allen has reached an all time low here. Even if he accidentally does something good I am going to turn it around every way I can to look for flaws. He has failed and he needs to be fired. Until then I’m basically half a fan. I am dangerously close to enthusiastically wanting the Redskins to fail so we can be rid of him now.

          And none of this is fair to Smith. He hasn’t done anything wrong. But you can’t take a job for Stalin without taking some flak, at least from me.

      • Oh and also, if thy do this and try to keep him hostage again with the tag he will wait for the worst possible moment and abruptly sign the tag. Then we could end up with Smith signed for 18 for 24 mill and Kurt on the tag for 34 mill. And the bitterest coaching staff in the universe glaring at him all season. Oh, the bliss of it all!

  19. If Wash or Kirk’s new team doesn’t have an Off Line then you will just be discussing why they didn’t draft a better backup QB.
    You could send Brady to any team with a bad O Line and he’d be out of the game by Wk 3.
    Eagles 9 NE 44

    • Nah. Brady has a quick release and survives fine behind bad O lines. Kirk too, which is why the Skins O line is looking more impressive than it really is. It’s not all that much better than the line that got blamed for RGIII’s demise.

  20. Alex is a very curious and somewhat confusing moment for “Danny-tainment Productions. Mr Smith provides a tiny bump on the drama meter and may serve as a brief nod to the Burgundy zealots and their gold. But with all sympathies to your radio colleague Mr. Rick/DOC, the NFL Illuminati (aka ownership) operate from what our beloved 4th & 1 Riggo fully understands; Lord Football is established as an entertainment show (never forget the 1st of the 4 letters is E). The Snyder-owned amusement park filled with DC market lemmings needs either a Diva (rare) or Drama (hyper-abundant and can be readily manufactured). Even when we “like him now”, Kirk is nobody’s Diva. Franchising fueled the last 3 seasons of drama. Kirk will move onto a lesser football-as-entertainment town and Alex buys Danny what? I just don’t get it.

  21. So tired of the bozos running the Skins. They are worse off in the long term, no doubt about it. Kirk will continue to get better, and Alex…ahem…won’t. Should have paid Kirk his due and made him a Skin for life. Just watch what he does next year with his new team. Unbelievable. SMH forever as long as Little Danny Snyder runs this team.

  22. driving around today, it hit me…and I’m sure I’ve said it before or heard it before…but I guess the idiocy of Cousins’s career here had receded enough to make me forget.

    1. we can’t give Kirk the money because he’s not really Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers
    [narrator: he was poking around top 5 QB production certain weeks without any offensive players]
    2 So we ship him off to some suckers who are going to pay him and cry their way to the bank and the superbowl trophy polishing store.
    [narrator: future Denver royalty?]

    3. And we get…instead…Mr. Also-Ran Alex Smith?

    He’s good, he’s not a pile of shit. Sure. But we had a better QB. So, what are the skins really thinking? Smith as a place holder where we wait for “Mr. Better than Kirk and in the same league of Aaron and/or Brady”?

    what a waste of time.


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