Alex Smith (QB)

East Notes: Smith, Pryor, Giants

Although other quarterback deals soon overshadowed this one, the Redskins made a commitment to Alex Smith. And the details of his contract have him entrenched in Washington into the next decade. Smith received a $27MM signing bonus, and his 2018 and ’19 base salaries — $13MM and $15MM, respectively — are also fully guaranteed at signing, Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington notes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, Smith’s 2020 salary ($16MM) becomes fully guaranteed, per Tandler. So, barring something crazy, the Redskins are essentially tethered to Smith for three seasons. The deal runs through 2022, but non-guaranteed base salaries of $19MM and $21MM are on tap in those respective seasons. Washington would save $13MM by cutting Smith after the 2020 slate. Smith’s contract will call for cap hits of $18.4MM (2018), $20MM (2019), $21.4MM (’20), $24.4MM (’21) and $26.4MM (’22).

Here’s the latest from the East divisions as teams sit midway through their OTA calendar.

  • Former Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has run into more injury trouble, encountering another ankle malady that’s sidelined him from Jets OTAs. But Todd Bowles said, via Calvin Watkins of Newsday, this latest issue is unrelated to the one that forced him to undergo surgery while a member of the Redskins. The Jets have a host of wide receivers under contract, and Pryor is attempting to carve out a role and rebound from his poor performance in Washington.
  • Speaking of wideouts, the Giants may not be necessarily done adding talent at that position. When asked earlier this month if the Giants had their No. 3 wide receiver on their roster, Pat Shurmur said, via Tom Rock of Newsday, “I don’t know.” This was before New York added Russell Shepard in the latter stages of free agency. But Big Blue signed Cody Latimer, and he’s been playing on the outside in that No. 3 role during OTAs, per Rock. Shepard likely represents Latimer’s top competition for this job, barring another outside hire. The Giants cut Brandon Marshall, and Dez Bryant‘s been mentioned as wanting to join this receiving contingent. They have $8.3MM in cap space.
  • Shurmur is hoping Eli Apple can rebound from what’s been a rough start to his career, and he’s not going to hold what the 2016 first-rounder did during the previous regime against him. “You hear things,” Shurmur said (via Rock) regarding Apple’s past behavior, “but I’m sure glad that I truly believe in a clean slate. He’s been nothing but professional; he’s been out here competing. He’s one of the guys that has been here almost every single day, and I haven’t seen anything that somebody might have thought I heard. He’s been greatIn terms of his stature, his skill set, yeah, he’s what you’re looking for.” The Giants cut Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and did not use a draft pick on a corner. They signed William Gay, Teddy Williams and B.W. Webb, however. But Apple could well have a promising route to a starting job despite the tumultuous 2017.

Chiefs Didn’t View Broncos As Smith Option

Although Andy Reid has dealt a starting quarterback to a team in his division before, sending Donovan McNabb to the Redskins in 2010, the Chiefs did not seriously entertain that notion in fielding offers for Alex Smith.

The two-time defending AFC West champions did not appear to consider the Broncos as a realistic trade destination for Smith, chairman Clark Hunt said (via Mike Klis of 9News).

I think it’s pretty typical in the NFL not to seek trades within the division,’’ Hunt said, via Klis. “That’s pretty standard fare particularly when we’re talking about a high-profile player.”

The Chiefs’ starting quarterback from 2013-17 reportedly drew widespread interest, with as many as six teams contacting the Chiefs. Although the Broncos haven’t been mentioned as one of the suitors, their need for a passer to complement a veteran nucleus would have made the 33-year-old Smith a logical option. But it appears Hunt wasn’t going to seriously entertain a potential Denver offer.

The Broncos’ current power structure got a good look at Smith during his Kansas City tenure. Smith faced the Broncos nine times as a Chief, going 4-5, losing the first five matchups to the then-Peyton Manning-led team before helping turn the tide in the division and helping Kansas City to back-to-back season sweeps in this rivalry series. Patrick Mahomes‘ appearance against the Broncos in Week 17 helped illustrate the direction the Chiefs were going.

The Chiefs ended up acquiring a third-round pick and Kendall Fuller, who has two more years of rookie-deal control.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Offered Second-Rounder For Smith

A report Tuesday night indicated the Browns were in the mix for Alex Smith, but it was unclear how willing John Dorsey was to reunite with his former quarterback.

However, the Browns appeared rather serious in their pursuit, with ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon reporting the team offered the Chiefs a second-round pick for Smith.

The Browns, who own three second-round selections, weren’t willing to give Smith the kind of contract the Redskins were. McManamon notes Cleveland wouldn’t match Washington’s extension for Smith.

It’s unclear which of the Browns’ second-round choices was offered. Cleveland owns picks 33, 35 and 63. The Redskins acquired Smith for a mid-third-round selection and emerging cornerback Kendall Fuller. The defender being under contract for two more seasons may have been a key bargaining chip against Cleveland, which has not been said to have offered a player as well as the Round 2 pick.

The Browns were not the only non-Redskins team in the mix for Smith, whom Adam Schefter of ESPN reported was pursued by as many as six franchises. The Cardinals and Broncos were also in on the veteran quarterback.

This marks the second time in less than six months the Browns were willing to fork over a second-round pick for a quarterback they didn’t end up getting.

Cleveland offered Cincinnati second- and third-round choices for A.J. McCarron and nearly acquired the Bengals backup, with the deal infamously falling apart at the 11th hour. The Browns were also reportedly willing to surrender a first-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo. Although expected to draft a quarterback at No. 1 overall, Cleveland remains without a proven passer despite extensive efforts to land a veteran.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions To Alex Smith Trade

It was widely rumored that the Chiefs would trade Alex Smith this offseason, but few expected him to be moved in January and almost no one saw him going to the Redskins. But, on Tuesday night, Kansas City and Washington agreed to a blockbuster deal which will have far-reaching implications around the NFL. Here’s a look at some of the reactions following the mega-trade:

  • Cornerback Kendall Fuller was a vital part of the Redskins and a tough piece to part with, ESPN.com’s John Keim writes. Fuller, who earned a tremendous 90.0 overall grade from Pro Football Focus in 2017, was one of the best pieces of Washington’s D. Meanwhile, fellow cornerback Bashaud Breeland is scheduled for free agency, so Washington could have multiple holes to fill in the secondary.Keim also feels that it’s tough to justify the extension for Smith which will reportedly pay him at an average of $23.5MM per year with $71MM guaranteed. Then again, the full details of the extension have yet to surface, so the deal might be more palatable for Washington if they can easily escape the contract after the first year or two.
  • The Smith deal means that Kirk Cousins will finally hit free agency and Mike Sando of ESPN.com lists the Cardinals, Browns, Broncos, Bills, Jets, Dolphins, Jaguars, Vikings, Giants, Buccaneers, and Colts as possible landing spots. Still, it’s not a given that all of these teams will make a run at him. The Cardinals would almost certainly like to add someone of Cousins’ caliber, but their cap room is an issue. The Buccaneers already have Jameis Winston under center, so it’s not especially likely that they’ll make a serious play for Cousins. Cousins signing with the Colts would be a shock – to say the least – given that Andrew Luck is expected to come back healthy in 2018. The Jaguars, who have less cap room than most of the teams listed here, may want to stick with Blake Bortles after reaching the AFC Championship Game. The Vikings, meanwhile, have three starting-caliber quarterbacks about to hit the free agent market and logic dictates that they will try to retain one of them (most likely Case Keenum).
  • In a sense, the Redskins’ sacrifice of a third-round pick in this year’s draft will be offset by the likely addition of a third-round compensatory pick in 2019 gained after Cousins signs elsewhere, as Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports tweets. The Redskins also will have more cap room to work with in the coming years with Smith under center rather than Cousins.
  • The Redskins did a good job of fixing the mess they made with Cousins, but Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com refuses to congratulate owner Daniel Snyder and president Bruce Allen for creating the mess in the first place. The Redskins also could have gotten a better return for Cousins by franchising him for a third season at $34.5MM and fielding trade offers from teams that would have acquired him and extended him to reduce the cap hold. Now that they have Smith under contract with a $20MM+ cap charge in 2018, they have no choice but to allow Cousins to walk.
  • More from Barnwell, who writes that it’s too early to grade the trade for the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes is a high-ceiling, low-floor option for 2018 and even under the best of circumstances, there should be some growing pains. Still, Barnwell believes that Kansas City got a tremendous talent in Fuller. Fuller emerged as an excellent slot cornerback last season and still has two years left on his rookie deal at a combined cost of less than $1.4MM. The Chiefs may put Fuller on the outside to see if he can be their new CB2 opposite of Marcus Peters, but they could also leave him in the slot and use him as a roving weapon.
  • Multiple teams expressed some interest in trading for Smith, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. One source tells Schefter that six clubs reached out to Kansas City to try and trade for the veteran. We know that the Cardinals and Browns both had interest in acquiring the soon-to-be 34-year-old.
  • Fun fact: Smith is the first QB to lead the NFL in touchdown-to-interception ratio (26 TD, 5 Int, a 5.2 ratio) in one season and then change teams the following year, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (Twitter link).

Cardinals Had Interest In Alex Smith

The Cardinals were among a handful of teams interested in trading for Alex Smith, Kent Somers of AZCentral Sports tweets. However, the Chiefs wound up trading the quarterback to the Redskins on Tuesday night in a deal that netted them cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round draft choice. Alex Smith

[RELATED: Browns Tried To Trade For QB Alex Smith]

It’s no surprise that the Cardinals expressed interest in Smith given their own murky quarterback situation. In the wake of Carson Palmer‘s retirement, the Cardinals have zero quarterbacks under contract with Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert, and Matt Barkley all scheduled for unrestricted free agency.

Smith is now off the table for Arizona, but the trade means that Kirk Cousins will be in play for the Cardinals and other QB-needy teams. Even if Arizona can’t clear enough cap room to put themselves in the mix for Cousins, that could be good news for the Cardinals. If another team in need of a QB like the Browns (picking at No. 4 in the draft), Broncos (No. 4) or the Jets (No. 6) signs Cousins, it will open up possibilities for the Cardinals, who own the 15th overall pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Tried To Trade For QB Alex Smith

Before the Chiefs sent Alex Smith to the Redskins, the Browns made a play for the veteran quarterback, according to Mark Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. As many as six teams may have expressed interest in Smith, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Broncos had some level of interest in Smith, but it’s not clear if Denver actually discussed an acquisition with Kansas City, per Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link).Alex Smith (Vertical)

Washington ultimately acquired Smith in exchange for a 2018 third-round pick and an unidentified player, so Cleveland presumably was unwilling to meet that asking price. The Browns not only own higher draft choices than do the Redskins, but also possess more total selections, meaning general manager John Dorsey & Co. had the ammunition to make a deal. Dorsey, notably, previously acquired Smith from the 49ers as Kansas City’s general manager in 2013.

Cleveland is fully expected to pursue quarterback upgrades this offseason, and may be open to adding a veteran signal-caller via trade or free agency and using an early-round pick on a passer. Smith would have given the Browns a competent starter under center, allowing the club to either bring in a first-round rookie — such as USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, or Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield — or give 2017 second-rounder DeShone Kizer more time to develop.

But now that Smith is on board in the nation’s capital, the Redskins won’t be signing fellow quarterback Kirk Cousins, who will now hit the open market. The Browns expressed interest in trading for Cousins during the 2017 draft, and while Cleveland now has a new front office in place, it’s fair to assume the club will have pursue Cousins now that he’s a free agent. The Browns are second in the NFL with nearly $110MM in available cap space, meaning they’ll have the flexibility to offer him a hefty contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins To Extend QB Alex Smith

The Redskins have agreed to a new four-year contract with newly-acquired quarterback Alex Smith that will keep him in the nation’s capital through the 2022 campaign, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Alex Smith (Vertical)

The new deal will pay Smith $23.5MM annually and features $70MM in guarantees, reports Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That guarantee figure likely doesn’t refer to full guarantees, as no player has topped the $61MM mark in full guarantees. However, Smith will still become the sixth-highest-paid quarterback in terms of annual salary.

Smith had only one season remaining on his former contract: he would’ve earned a $14.5MM base salary next season, and because he was acquired via trade, Washington wouldn’t have been on the hook for any of his signing bonus proration. Whether Smith’s new deal alters his 2018 cap charge is unclear, but he’s likely to pocket some extra cash this year thanks to a fresh signing bonus.

The Redskins rank near the top of the league in available cap space with more than $52MM in reserves, so they’ll be able to afford to give their new quarterback a raise. While Smith is coming off arguably the best season of his career, he’s also 33 years old, so he may not have had the leverage to become the league’s highest-paid quarterback. Washington and Smith likely agreed to an extension prior to the trade that will significantly increase Smith’s salary, but keep him below the $25MM+ average that currently tops the quarterback market.

Washington was famously resistant to inking former starter Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal, and had assigned the Cousins the franchise tag for two consecutive seasons. As such, Cousins earned nearly $44MM from 2016-17, and would have taken home north of $34MM in 2018 had the Redskins opted to deploy the franchise tender again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs To Trade QB Alex Smith To Redskins

In a blockbuster move that will have wide-ranging implications around the NFL, the Chiefs have agreed to trade quarterback Alex Smith to the Redskins, reports Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. When the deal becomes official on March 14 (the first day of the 2018 league year), Kansas City is expected to receive a third-round pick (No. 78) and a player who will be identified Wednesday, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.Alex Smith

In 2017, the 33-year-old Smith led the NFL in passer rating (104.7) and finished third in adjusted net yards per attempt while setting career-highs in completion percentage (67.5), yards (4,042), and touchdowns (26). He also posted a career-low interception rate of 1%, and scored well in Football Outsiders’ metrics, which ranked Smith ninth in DYAR and 10th in DVOA.

Despite that production, the Chiefs were widely expected to trade Smith given the presence of Patrick Mahomes, whom Kansas City traded up to acquire in the 2017 draft. Mahomes’ only real action during his rookie campaign came during a meaningless regular season finale, but the Chiefs shipped two first-round picks plus a third-rounder to Buffalo for the right to select Mahomes at pick No. 10, and they’ll capitalize on that investment.

Smith is only under contract through the 2018 campaign, and it remains to be seen if Washington has interest in working out an extension. Kansas City was projected to be roughly $10MM over the cap next season, so clearing Smith’s $14.5MM base salary, $2MM roster bonus, and $500K workout bonus will help out the club’s books., while the Redskins boast more than $52MM in cap space, meaning they can easily fit Smith onto their ledger.

Washington’s decision to not only take on Smith’s salary, but install him as the team’s starting quarterback, means Kirk Cousins will (at long last) officially hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. Although the Redskins could have explored a variety of options regarding Cousins, including the franchise/transition tag or a long-term deal, the club never seemed willing to commit to a lengthy contract for its starting quarterback.Kirk Cousins (vertical)

A third consecutive franchise tender would have netted Cousins more than $34MM in 2018 alone, but he’ll now be free to possibly double that figure in guaranteed money on his next contract. The Jets were the most recent team to be linked to a Cousins pursuit, while club such as the Bronco, Browns, and Cardinals could also make sense as potential landing spots.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, are now facing something of a restart on offense a year after ranking fourth in DVOA, fifth in yards, and sixth in points. In addition to Mahomes now being under center, Kansas City will be without offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, who is now the Bears’ head coach. Former running backs coach Eric Bieniemy has since been promoted to OC, while head coach Andy Reid will personally direct Mahomes as the club’s play-caller.

[RELATED: Chiefs Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Smith, Cardinals, Broncos

During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, Alex Smith fielded questions about his future with the Chiefs. The 14th-year quarterback wishes he had more control in this process. He could well be traded for the second time in his career.

I wish I knew,” Smith said about his future (video link). “I’ve got a year under contract there in Kansas City. I wish I was in control of this thing. I wish I was the one who got to do this. That’s just not the reality. … I love where I’m at. I feel like we underachieved. Offensively, last year, I felt we did some awesome things. Who knows? I’ve been through this before, the trade deal. A lot of crazy stuff can happen.”

The conversation pivoted to the Browns, a proposition that has been mentioned recently. A team that has lost 31 of its past 32 games does not sound like an ideal place to go for a veteran quarterback that’s been to the playoffs four times in the past five years, and Smith seemed to confirm as such during his interview.

I haven’t even thought about that,” Smith said about a Cleveland trade. “They’ve got nowhere to go but up. One and 31 over the past two years just sounds amazing. If that’s the case and you’re going somewhere, yeah, you want to go somewhere where you have a chance to have success.”

The soon-to-be 34-year-old passer has one year left on his Chiefs contract, and it seems likely Kansas City (as of now projected to be $9MM-plus over the 2018 cap) will pull the trigger on a deal.

Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • Steve Wilks will not be calling plays and running the Cardinals‘ game-day operations this season, with Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com (on Twitter) revealing new DC Al Holcomb will call plays. This will be new territory for Holcomb, the Panthers’ linebackers coach the past five years.
  • The Cardinals’ running backs coach during Emmitt Smith‘s farewell season in 2004, Kirby Wilson is close to a deal to return to the desert. Alex Marvez of the Sporting News reports Wilson interviewed for the job and is considered a strong candidate to again fill that role. Wilson coached Arizona’s backs from 2004-06 before moving on. He spent the past two seasons as the Browns’ run-game coordinator. Wilson’s coached seven teams’ running backs, dating back to 1997. One of Wilson’s stops was in Minnesota, where he oversaw Adrian Peterson‘s third rushing championship season in 2015.
  • If the Broncos are going to pursue Kirk Cousins and what could be a record contract, they might have to part ways with one of their Pro Bowl wide receivers because of cap considerations, Mike Klis of 9News writes. While noting it would be a surprise if John Elway parts ways with both, Klis writes one could be jettisoned. The Broncos, though, have experienced consistent issues finding supporting-cast wideouts; everything has funneled through Thomas and Sanders since 2015. And Denver’s revolving door at quarterback has contributed to the 30-year-olds’ statistical regression. The Broncos must decide between Feb. 10 and March 14 if they want to pick up the $4MM option that buys back the final two years of Thomas’ deal, which calls for a $12.1MM cap hit in 2018. Cutting Sanders ($10.94MM 2018 cap number), though, would cost $5.375MM in dead money.

Browns’ QB Plans Include Veteran, Rookie Upgrades?

The Sashi Brown regime will likely be most associated with the decisions to trade out of draft spots that ended up producing Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. Well, that and an unprecedented losses in a two-year span.

But John Dorsey may be preparing for a multifaceted approach to fixing the Browns’ quarterback situation. The Browns are expected to pull the trigger on a quarterback at No. 1 overall, and Dorsey said several could be on the radar at this juncture, but Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com expects the Browns’ Week 1 starter will be a veteran not currently on the roster.

Cabot writes the Browns will acquire an experienced passer, adding this player would play in front of the to-be-determined rookie to start the season. This would differ from Cleveland’s 2017 approach, which included giving DeShone Kizer the reins immediately. Cabot mentions Alex Smith as a candidate the team will attempt to acquire via trade.

Cabot expects Dorsey to attempt to trade for Smith, whom he acquired in 2013 for two second-round picks while with the Chiefs, and still draft a quarterback at No. 1. Smith has one year and $20.6MM left on his contract, and the Chiefs are reportedly ready to explore a trade and turn to Patrick Mahomes in 2018.

This would be interesting given how far the Browns may be from contention, but Hue Jackson said this multi-pronged solution at quarterback would be in play this offseason despite its perceived redundancy. The Browns having gone 1-31 over the past two seasons, it would seemingly make sense to not waste additional resources on a franchise-quarterback salary instead of letting the rookie learn from the start, but the team does have a warchest of cap space. Cleveland’s expected to possess $110MM in space, so just about anything could be in play come March.

As for the rookie the Browns will pair this to-be-identified veteran with, Cabot does not see it being Baker Mayfield. While a report emerged over the weekend that Mayfield may be the type of player Dorsey covets, Cabot still sees the Browns as having multiple other QBs above him on their early board. Jackson’s proclivity for bigger quarterbacks could well play a role here, Cabot writes.

A Mayfield play could look similar to the Browns’ Johnny Manziel gamble, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writing that Jimmy Haslam could well enter the decision-making process as he did in 2014 when he pushed for Manziel. Noting it would be difficult for Dorsey to say no under these circumstances, Florio writes the Browns would be hoping the Oklahoma product that shares some on-field traits with Manziel doesn’t share enough of the off-field troubles with him. Haslam reportedly intervened this spring in Brown and Co.’s draft process in hopes of a quarterback pick, so it wouldn’t be out of character for the owner to step in again.

Several scouts and execs Cabot spoke to at the Senior Bowl see the similarities between Mayfield and Manziel, but Dorsey came to the former’s defense this week.