As news continues to trickle in and reactions start to seep out surrounding the Redskins’ surprising trade for quarterback Alex Smith in exchange for defensive back Kendall Fuller, emotions are running high and skewing mostly negative. However, a deeper dive into the nuances and ramifications of the move provide reason for optimism as Kirk Cousins’ chapter in Redskins history comes to an end.
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: losing Kendall Fuller is a tough pill to swallow, and there’s no sugarcoating it. His star is on the rise, and as Bleacher Report’s recently-anointed top slot defender for 2017, Washington will clearly feel his absence in the secondary. Fuller, still on his rookie deal, truly provided bang for the Redskins’ buck at the position.
The departure of Fuller will undoubtedly cause ripples in the locker room and the community. Fuller is a local product who played his high school ball at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Maryland before matriculating to nearby Virginia Tech. He is held in high regard by both his teammates and those who have gotten to watch him play football since he was growing up. Already, many Redskins players have expressed shock, and some anger at the loss of their promising young teammate.
Conversely, there is reason potential celebration with Alex Smith’s arrival in DC. First and foremost, this marks the true beginning of the end of the Kirk Cousins “capital S” Saga. For over two years the “will they/won’t they” of a Cousins’ future with the Redskins has dominated headlines and drew battle lines that divided the fandom. The general consensus, if one exists, falls somewhere in the neighborhood of the proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” While the best time to have signed Cousins to a long-term deal was three years ago, but perhaps the worst time to sign him to a long-term contact here in Washington, after all that has happened, is now.
Both the Redskins front office and Cousins and his representation have sought to come out as the sympathetic or maligned party over the course of the negotiations. Over the course of the ordeal, Bruce Allen and company have pushed the line that they have made every attempt to be as equitable to Cousins and the team as possible. Conversely, Cousins, a master of the “aw shucks” interview, has gone out of his way to say all the right things, while inferring that he has never been made an offer in good faith.
The fact remains that this offseason Kirk Cousins will likely seek to become the highest paid player in NFL history, a fact that is a function of market demand, certainly is not backed up by on-field play.
The one final question is how clean a break will the Redskins have from Cousins? Though one enticing sentiment is the idea of applying the franchise tag to him and seek a return from the highest bidder via trade, there are lingering questions about the viability of that strategy. Washington is due a 2019 third-round compensatory pick they will get when Cousins signs elsewhere, provided they do not acquire the services of a player from another team who is coming off a similar deal.
Perhaps the best part as fans, is that this seemingly never-ending crucible is finally coming to a close. While it has certainly made for good radio talk-show (also blog and podcast) fodder, the whole process has been exhausting and at times has felt like drama for drama’s sake. Even if the results do not play out on the field, to finally have a resolution in all of this offers a sense of relief, if not closure.
Was how the Redskins handled Kirk Cousins a mess of their own making? Likely it was. But for those saying that Washington got fleeced in the deal or that twenty years of mediocre football continues, take pause: there are potential reasons for optimism, or at least the glass might just be half full.
The Redskins’s acquisition of Alex Smith is a glass...
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