As The Steward of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder’s job—in the eyes of most fans—would be to simply leave the team better off than how he found it. After all, Snyder will one day be gone...but the burgundy and gold will live forever. I think we can all agree that Dan Snyder has already failed in his job as Steward. Perhaps a chance exists for him to claw back some of the ground he has so capriciously laid waste to in his tenure as Steward of this team, but I am not certain human life expectancy rates can be expected to maintain pace with that kind of hope.
I am truly disheartened by the reaction to the Washington Redskins’ trade for Alex Smith over the last few days. I harbor no ill will for my fellow Redskins fans, as I hope you all will harbor no ill will for me—someone who is genuinely excited for our offense with our new quarterback. We have been putting out career numbers, highlight clips and schematic analysis. I feel confident suggesting Alex Smith can turn in a solid two or three years under center for us, and I feel like it is one of the better—if not best—outcomes of a terrible football situation.
The problem, as I see it, is this trade is being viewed—perhaps EXTREMELY FAIRLY—as a move that works primarily to clean up past transgressions of this organization. In other words, this trade wouldn’t have been necessary if the Redskins hadn’t absolutely screwed things up so monumentally bad over the last
handful of years uhhh, decade....crap, the last twenty damn years.
It feels like the Redskins front office has been in a constant mode of being that guy who walks behind horses in parades, shoveling the piles of manure into wheeled garbage cans. Deep within Yucca Mountain, garbage cans with the Redskins logo tout individual labels like “Albert Haynesworth,” “Adam Archuleta,” “Jeff George,” “Danny Wuerffel,” “Steve Spurrier,” and “SignGate,” among others. Even the flies don’t feast on that crap anymore.
Redskins fans are not to blame for this—not those who were in support of any of these moves in real time and not those who may have railed against any said moves. We’re fans. OUR job is to mostly love football and cheer for the team that our families and friends gather to collectively love. I think we can all agree that we have done our job. It makes us easy targets. It’s made us easy targets. And Dan Snyder has been picking us off one at a time.
I guess I sometimes make the mistake of trying to view football moves in the context of what it means on the field or in the locker room, when so many of us are fixated—again, legitimately so—on why the moves were necessary in the first place. For example, trading a slot cornerback for a quality starting quarterback would be considered—on its face—to be one of the better deals the Redskins organization has made under Snyder’s stewardship. (The extra draft pick—come on, that’s what we do! In all seriousness, we should be able to net that draft pick loss by hopefully tagging and trading Kirk. Someone will give us at least a 3rd round pick for the rights to negotiate with Kirk. Is that too crazy of a premise?)
I too easily moved past the reality that Kirk Cousins was not going to play for us in 2018 and embraced the fix that is Alex Smith. You have read—in this space—my unwavering desire and support for a career’s worth of work out of Kirk Cousins in a Redskins jersey. I would have paid him his market rate. I would have built a team around him. It became as clear as the gel Barry Bonds smeared on his knees that Cousins and the Redskins were done. DONE. We have all been coming to grips with this in our own ways over the last month or so I suppose. I held on to the possibility things would work out as late as early Tuesday evening.
The fact that our rebound relationship is with a consummate professional who led the league in passer rating in 2017 and is respected in pretty much every corner of the league is—to me—more than we could have hoped for, and definitely more than Dan Snyder deserves.
Queue the four-year extension. I mean, this contract extension has “Kobe ring” written all over it. The money goes to Alex Smith, but the gesture is for us. Is it too much for a 33-year old quarterback to be paid? Probably, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are paying exactly what a man of Smith’s talents deserves (not top of market). We aren’t paying Alex the “Kirk Cousins Money” that is about to get spent by someone. We aren’t paying Andrew Luck money and we aren’t paying Matthew Stafford money. I would argue that the Washington Redskins continue to dedicate a very reasonable amount of money and salary cap space to the quarterback position. It’s the most important position in football, and one of the most important in all of professional sports, so I DO think you need to earmark considerable resources if you can get a good one. It says here we got a good one, and when the next round of contracts starts to be signed (starting with Kirk’s), the Smith extension is going to look better and better.
But Kendall Fuller...
Losing Fuller kills me, as we have spent considerable time covering him all the way back to his days at Good Counsel High School, a solid WCAC program (where he was teammates with Stefon Diggs). Saying words like, “The Redskins still have three very good cornerbacks in Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau,” doesn’t make it easier for anyone. Pointing out that the Redskins have actually drafted well at the corner position the last few years and that the upcoming draft has a solid corps of defensive backs doesn’t help either. Fuller was a favorite of ours, and seeing him in a different jersey sucks. He’s not immediately replaceable in the draft, but you would still call a CB-for-QB deal reasonable in most cases.
Alex Smith can play some of that hurt away. Despite his age (calling a 33-year old “old” pains me), he brings athleticism and toughness to our locker room. There are few fanbases who know their team and players better than Kansas City’s fanbase. They freaking loved Alex. You know what they are doing right now? They are donating money to his foundation as a thank you for the time and dedication Alex Smith gave them (5 years x his #11 = $55 donated from many KC fans). I don’t see us doing the same thing for Kirk...maybe we should, but our relationship with Cousins was a bit different than the one Chiefs fans had with Alex (plus, we would have to use different jersey numbers for different time periods...the math gets fuzzy).
I knew people would be mad, and I have no problem with the anger—I just want it to be directed at the right
person Steward. Dan Snyder has treated us poorly, insulted our intelligence and monetized our loyalty—all while barely ever winning. I know Snyder ruined the Cousins Era. I know the way he acted when we had Shanahan and Griffin. We all know that he had no idea what kind of player he had, and that he missed multiple opportunities to lock up #8 on the cheap—when Kirk would have done it. Those fans who have walked away and those who are getting ready to walk away have earned the right to make that decision.
I can’t do it. Part of me hates myself for that fact, but I am genuinely excited about watching Alex Smith play for us. I think his addition—especially at this time—allows the Redskins to have a more focused free agency period, a more open draft approach and above all else, frees us from the never-ending Kirk Cousins soap opera. A weight has been lifted. This isn’t me booking Super Bowl flights for next year by a long shot, but I am not worried about getting subpar quarterback play in 2018, and that was a huge concern entering this offseason for me.
Kansas City was on in primetime a LOT this past year. You got to see a lot of what makes Alex Smith a top pro—and yes, you got to see some of his shortcomings (if you love four-yard passes on 3rd-and-5, you might be in for a treat...but God I hope not).
We need to draft well. We need to add an impact wide receiver in free agency and a starting running back out of the draft. We have to play defense behind Smith, and we can’t make stupid errors on special teams. We just might try and spend some money on the offensive line, at left guard, and we might also think hard about drafting a quarterback in the middle rounds. Most of this would have been true no matter who the quarterback was going to be on Sundays.
If you genuinely hate the idea of Alex Smith being your quarterback, I’ll respect your opinion, and respectfully disagree. If you find yourself enraged by the move and the manner in which this whole thing transpired, I just ask you to try and separate out who deserves to be the target of that anger. It isn’t the guy in pads and a jersey laying it on the line for us on Sundays. It’s the guy who has lifted his leg and repeatedly crapped on our faces for twenty years in the Steward’s Suite.
If you can figure out a way to join me and pull for the players and coaches next season each and every week, let’s ride. If you have tapped out, please allow me to at least feel like I am doing it for both of us.
The Alex Smith Era has begun, and it promises a measure of stability and professionalism.
To Kirk Cousins, I say thank you and I wish you well.
To Alex Smith, I say welcome and let’s get it on!