Former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith reacts after throwing a touchdown pass against the New York Jets on Dec. 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The first bomb dropped Tuesday night in what is expected to an offseason of considerable volatility among quarterbacks in the NFL.
With seven head coaching changes coupled with upwards of 20 teams with offensive coordinators different from who began the 2017 season, instability will again be rampant with offenses.
And that is already the case in Kansas City after the Chiefs agreed to trade quarterback Alex Smith to the Redskins when the league year begins March 14.
Still, the Chiefs are taking a leap of faith by likely starting Patrick Mahomes in his second season after what Smith has accomplished in Kansas City after being acquired from San Francisco when head coach Andy Reid was hired in 2013.
While it is Reid’s offense the Chiefs play, they also haven’ been immune to change in the coaching ranks after coordinator Matt Nagy was hired as head coach of the Bears and running backs coach Eric Bieniemy was promoted to coordinator.
It’s no real surprise that the Chiefs dealt Smith, considering they traded up in last year’s draft to select Mahomes.
What’s eye-opening is that the destination is Washington where the real ripple effect from the deal is felt.
Kirk Cousins has played the last two seasons under the franchise tag. The Redskins refused to truly commit to him long-term, and Cousins was fine with being paid a total of $43.89 million in 2016 and 2017
The Redskins wanted no part of going through a potential transition or franchise tag for another year, but they still could slap a tag on him in the next month in hopes of making a trade.
Coincidentally, Cousins appeared on PFTLive earlier in the day before word of the trade was reported, and said, "I think we’ll do what we’ve done the past two seasons. There’s no need to change the script. Stay consistent with the plan: Let the team do what they want to do. We’ll see what the Redskins want to do and then I’ll react accordingly."
He found out quickly enough.
Still, Washington is making a risky decision not in acquiring Smith but in knowing they will be searching for a quarterback again perhaps in two or three years.
Smith will be 34 on May 7, and reports on a new four-year contract have the dollars pegged at $94 million with $71 million guaranteed. Of course, the devil is in the details, which we won’t know officially until the contract is filed in March.
We will probably learn that a much smaller percentage of that $71 million is guaranteed at signing, with much of it in injury guarantees or becoming guaranteed at the start of later league years.
At their media session Wednesday, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who was with Smith in Kansas City, said, "Washington’s very fortunate to have a quarterback in Alex Smith. My year with him was one of my favorite years of football. Just being there in Kansas City and getting to work with him, seeing a guy that for some reason people critique all the time. The guy’s a winner. Look at him. Look what he did this year. He just keeps coming. He keeps getting better.
"When I was with him, I worked with him every day. He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with, one of the most athletic guys. He can make plays. But most importantly, leadership in the locker room. He can turn a locker room around and guys believe in him. Washington’s getting a great quarterback. I’m excited for him and his opportunity. This league’s crazy. You never know what’s going to happen."
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, who was also with Smith in Kansas City, said, "I just hate that we’ve got to play him twice a year. I’m happy for Alex. I had a chance to work with him for three years. I’m excited and happy for him. He’s going to do fine. He’s a pro’s pro. He’s going to come in and he’s going to demand perfection of the guys he’s working with."
Meanwhile, the next destination for Cousins will be the subject of likely wild speculation in the next six weeks.
Cousins made it clear in that PFTLive interview what he wants. "Is money a part of it? Sure. Is it the only thing? No," Cousins said. "It is about winning, and that’s what I want more than anything, so I’m going to be willing to make sacrifices or do what has to be done to make sure I’m in the best possible position to win, and that’s what the focus is going to be."
As an unrestricted free agent, he will have a chance to do that, provided a contending team has interest. The one that makes the most sense is Denver.
While Cleveland and the Jets will surely be mentioned, those won’t be places Cousins will want to go. All bets might be off, however, if the Redskins try getting value in a trade.
The Chiefs took the high road, electing to send Smith to the Redskins rather than the Browns, who reportedly expressed interest.
The Broncos will be in the market for a quarterback, and considering the lengths they went to try and keep Brock Osweiler before he signed with Houston in the 2016 offseason, they should go hard after Cousins.
Linebacker Von Miller hopes that is the case. After the Broncos lost to Washington 27-11 on Dec. 24, Miller said, "A lot of teams would kill to have a quarterback like that."
Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show Wednesday, Miller said, "He knows exactly how I feel about Kirk Cousins and what he’d mean to our team. And what he would mean to a lot of other teams. He’s the hot quarterback on the market right now. … Yeah, we need Kirk. We need Kirk. I’d like to have Kirk. Kirk could take us over the edge."