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Redskins trade for Alex Smith is perfect example of “how not to build your roster”

Washington just swung a trade that has many people shaking their heads.

NFL: International Series-Washington Redskins at Cincinnati Bengals Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get into this silliness, I want to thank fellow FPW Michael Strawn for the perfect title to this article.

By now you’ve surely read the news of the trade that has sent quarterback Alex Smith to Washington, and has sent Kirk Cousin to another team somewhere down the line once free agency begins. The more you look into the details of the trade and the circumstances that have surrounded Cousins and the Redskins, the more curious you become about what Washington was thinking. These are the types of moves that Jerry Jones has been accused of making in the past, but this is beyond that. This is full-on Al Davis-type of roster work.

First and foremost, the moment that the Redskins decided to fire Scot McCloughan as their general manger and give the reins back to Bruce Allen, they made all of this possible. Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen haven behind such moves as the Albert Haynesworth deal and the Donovan McNabb trade.

For whatever reason, Washington has decided that Kirk Cousins is just not the right quarterback for the franchise. This couldn’t be more evident than when Allen called him by the wrong name several times last offseason. We also can’t forget that Allen publicly released a statement on the deal he offered Cousins which was clearly painting a picture that someone is greedy. Even McCloughan, who was the man behind tagging Cousins twice, thinks he’s a good quarterback, but told a radio show in Denver, he’s “not special”:

“He’s a good player,” McCloughan told Mike Pritchard and Cecil Lammey. “Is he special? I don’t see special. But also, we were still building a roster around him to make him special. He’s talented. Talent is good at quarterback in the NFL. He’s won games. He works his tail off. He’s so methodical. Every day he has planned out. He’s always in the building, he’s always watching tape, he’s always talking to coaches, he was talking to me. From the standpoint of the tangibles, they’re excellent. You just need to have some talent around him because you don’t want him to be throwing the ball 35 to 40 times to win the game. You want to have a running game, have a good defense, good [special] teams, and then let him do what he does.”

That scouting report sounds awfully similar to the guy Washington just traded for, doesn’t it? Well, back to the trade. How is this good for the Redskins if they’re going from one “non-special” guy to another?

Alex Smith did play better than Kirk Cousins this year but you have to look past just one year. Smith landing in Washington is not a bad deal at all for Alex Smith and it provides a capable signal-caller for the Redskins. Smith gets a decent offensive line that has offensive talent around him with a head coach that has plenty of similarities with Andy Reid and the west coast style he’s accustomed to. Washington is banking on the notion that Smith is a better fit for them and gives them a better chance to win a championship, although Smith only has two playoff victories in seven tries.

In the last three seasons, Kirk Cousins has passed for 13,176 yards to Alex Smith’s 11,030 yards. Cousins has also averaged a slightly better completion percentage and average yards per pass. Cousins has thrown 81 touchdowns in the past three seasons to Smith’s 61. Cousins’ passer rating at 97.5 and Smith’s 97.1 are pretty comparable to each other. The one area where Smith certainly outshines Cousins is in turnovers where he has only had 33 over Cousins’ 47. Kirk Cousins is the more prolific passer by a mile and far less of a bus driver than Alex Smith, but Cousins is more careless with the football

McCloughan said he believed that you needed to put more around Cousins for him to succeed but what about Alex Smith? Cousins has proven he can do much more with less around him. In his time as a full time starter, Washington has ranked 28th, 21st, and 20th in rushing offense. Smith has only played without a Top-10 rushing offense once and that was in 2016 when they were 15th. Much is made about Smith’s ability make plays out of the pocket but he has 13 rushing touchdowns in five seasons at Kansas City, Cousins has the same in three. Washington didn’t get better by trading for Smith, especially when you look at the rest of this trade.

It’s likely Andy Reid and the Chief’s front office that was going to have to cut bait with Smith anyway, so why did Washington pay so much? This isn’t new as Reid was able to procure a second- and third-round pick from Washington for the aging Donovan McNabb, who only played one season there. Smith will receive a four-year, $94 million deal with $71 million in guarantees from Washington. He will also average over $23 million per season and is most likely on the books for at least three seasons. The deal itself is a lot to pay for a quarterback who is turning 34 in May.

Maybe the Redskins’ front office knows that they handled this Cousins situation about as poorly as possible and were making sure they didn’t have to bid for his replacement. Maybe they also realize that picking at 13th overall isn’t going to get them a Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen. Either way, the bottom line is that they didn’t believe Cousins was a franchise quarterback and were more than happy to fork over the cash for Smith, who isn’t definitively better.

Not only did Kansas City get a third-round pick from Washington, but they also will get cornerback Kendall Fuller. This is where Washington really hurt themselves in getting rid of a promising young player.

Washington drafted Fuller 84th overall in the third-round of the 2016 NFL Draft and he was only available there due to injury. Fuller could have easily have been snatched up at the bottom of the first or top of the second if healthy. The Chiefs have struggled in the secondary and Fuller is going to be a starter for Andy Reid’s defense. Fuller only started six games this season but had 55 tackles, 10 passes defensed, four interceptions, and a forced fumble. With Bashaud Breeland hitting free agency, Fuller would have stepped right in next to Josh Norman. Now, Washington has to possibly fill two cornerback spots in an NFC East loaded with wide receiver talent.

It also doesn’t look great when the player has to find out on Twitter:

One hour later:

If that isn’t the most Washington thing to do then I have no idea what is. This move to add Alex Smith is much less about the quarterback and more about how desperate the Redskins’ front office looks in executing the trade. Kirk Cousins was treated terribly but don’t feel bad for him as he’s about to become the highest-paid free agent of 2018.

If Kirk Cousins isn’t “special” than neither is Alex Smith. So, in essence, the Redskins just dumped Cousins to the street for the right to grossly overpay another non-special quarterback who is four years older. The Chiefs, Alex Smith, Kirk Cousins, and the rest of the NFC East came out winners in this deal but the Redskins most certainly lost. In the rules of roster building, this was a perfect example of what “not” to do.