- Let’s just knock out the daily installment of the “To Tag or Not To Tag” debate. We told you a few weeks ago that placing the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins would likely draw scrutiny—and a grievance—from the union. The CBA does use the word “intent” when it comes to tagging players for the purpose of signing them long term. One wonders how far Dan Snyder would go to try and extract value from the Kirk Cousins Era prior to its official end date. I have been pushing for him to push it, but I just want to be clear about one thing: if the Redskins do decide to simply turn the other way and allow Kirk to just walk into unrestricted free agency, I will appreciate the calm. If the Redskins do decide to run with the tag-and-trade scenario, it will be drama all the way through. People will be out to get Dan Snyder, thanks at least in some part to the historical actions of Dan Snyder. Because I think there could potentially be a reward worth the risk (say, a second round pick in the upcoming draft versus an add-on to the back of the third round in the 2019 draft), I would continue to consider it as an option. That said, it appears increasingly unlikely that this course of action will be taken, and to repeat: that is just fine.
- Speaking of just fine, the Redskins are going to be...JUST FINE...at quarterback this season. We learned over the last week or so just how excited Alex Smith is to be our quarterback, and without trampling over a guy who performed well for us over the last few seasons, it is a refreshing take. It is perfectly fair to reflect on the lack of a love affair there was between Kirk Cousins and the fanbase. If we’re being honest, it wasn’t always Kirk’s fault, though it serves none among us to ignore the fact that Kirk really never got all lovey-dovey in D.C. For all of Kirk’s apathy on the topic of a long-term relationship (he was, after all, perfectly happy to keep this thing casual), the Redskins never seemed to be all that serious about settling down either. Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen were shopping for engagement rings in the 25-cent candy dispensers—they never went to Jared. Thankfully, the relationship has run its course and we can...soon...move on. The new guy seems to already be doing and saying the things so many Redskins fans want to hear. It is silly that words and actions off the field mean so much (or that they mean anything at all), but they really do.
- Alex Smith enjoys an advantage that younger quarterbacks might not have in this kind of situation. His age and experience afford him an “elder statesmen” level of status that absolutely plays into our view of him. So much of rooting for Kirk Cousins over the last couple seasons seemed to be wrapped up in the idea that we would be rooting for him for many years to come. With Alex Smith, we don’t feel it that same way. Smith has already likely played for two separate teams longer than he will play for the Redskins (seven seasons in San Francisco and five seasons in Kansas City). His arrival in Washington is more about keeping the ship afloat, while providing leadership, competence and professionalism. Alex Smith is a very known quantity, with the bulk of his playing days behind him. This is almost certainly his last stop on a pretty underrated career. That is the other part of his appeal I think. He has been doubted at every stop along the way, so there is no natural assumption of the mantle of “savior” with him. I mean, Redskins fans are among the fastest fans out there to anoint saviors, but Alex Smith will be spared that label because that is simply not the player most NFL fans look at him to be. This is a very good thing for Washington, because it clears a lot of room around Smith to simply be the above average player he has generally always been. I think the result of this lack of pressure being heaped onto the shoulders of Alex Smith will be us watching a player enjoying playing football and leading his teammates to wins we probably won’t see coming. Let’s face it, you just don’t hear the football world saying Alex Smith is going to save the Redskins (though we have said it on The Audible). His time here is shaping up to be vastly different than the time we spent with Kirk—which seems weird because we will absolutely be expecting him to perform as well or better.
- What about the players we intend to put around Alex Smith? Another gift of the Alex Smith deal is the ability the Redskins have to put weapons around him with the expectation that a player of Smith’s abilities will allow the team to develop those weapons. In both free agency and the draft, the Redskins have the resources to increase the talent level around the quarterback. I think running back is a top priority, and given this team has made the draft its source of running backs, I am excited about adding the “special” guy we have been wanting for quite some time. This draft is loaded with running backs, and it stands to reason that the Redskins could grab one in the second round that would be potentially penciled in as our starter. Kevin and I have been outspoken on Sony Michel, the Georgia product that a lot of NFL teams would love to add. I am fearful that he will be off the board by the time the Redskins draft in the second round, and I am not yet convinced he is a player you draft at #13 overall. That said, the combine is coming, and if Sony shows out, watch him race up mock drafts. (I still don’t see him going #13 overall.) If Sony is sitting there in the second round, I race to the podium with his name on a card.
- At wide receiver, the Redskins have both youth and talent, but remain in need of another top-flight option. I have made the Jarvis Landry/Allen Robinson argument, knowing full well both will cost a lot of money. I believe having Alex Smith at quarterback gives the Redskins a high probability of getting their money’s worth out of one of these receivers. Sammy Watkins will be an attractive free agent as well, but I have not read where he will come at any kind of discount. That surprises me since he did not exactly blow up everyone’s skirts with the Rams this past season, despite Jared Goff having an extremely productive season (I know, I know...second Jared reference). If you want me to throw out a target for the Redskins that may not break the bank but has plenty of upside, what about former Seahawk Paul Richardson? I know his injury history is slightly checkered, but he is young (will be 26 at the start of the 2018 season), he is fast, has size and strength and folks are estimating he is looking for somewhere around $7 million per year. (Landry and Robinson could easily be twice that sum.) Seattle has reportedly drawn the line at $5.5 million and that sounds like it won’t get the job done. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Brandon Coleman, the 6’6’ restricted free agent receiver for the Saints that ALSO went to Bishop McNamara High School (Go Mustangs!). Playing with Drew Brees helps anyone’s receiving career, and the guy has shown he can play in the league. Something tells me the masses will be a bit on edge if the Skins don’t add a starting wide receiver out of this free agent crop. (It also bears mentioning that Ryan Grant is a free agent, and I DO think he belongs back here, but I wouldn’t make him my free agent wide receiver centerpiece.)
- Tomorrow night, The Audible hits the road on Fat Tuesday. We will be live at Tommy Joe’s in downtown Bethesda. The Nats Shift starts at 8 PM (for all you starving baseball fans out there), and Offseason On the Brink goes live on Facebook Live at 9 PM. We are joined on site by Carol Maloney, two weeks removed from her last extremely well-received appearance on our show. Immediately following that is The HotBox, featuring yours truly and the McLinton Bros. (sons of the late, great Harold “Tank” McLinton). We will share the mics with Louis Bullock to talk NBA, WCAC and anything else Darren and Kevin McLinton have to get off their chest. Tommy Joe’s is turning back the clock on their menu pricing, and so if you like paying what you paid ten or twenty years ago for barfare, this could be the perfect night to come out and join us for what promises to be yet another amazing Tuesday night! Thanks in advance for hanging out with us tomorrow night, and as always...