Washington, D.C. was a frenzy on Tuesday evening and it wasn’t because of the State of the Union.
As first reported by Kansas City Star reporter Terez Paylor, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was dealt to Washington for a third-round pick and an up-and-coming cornerback Kendall Fuller.
Not only did the trade assure that Washington’s 2017 starter Kirk Cousins won’t be returning to the team in 2018, the trade also creates a ripple effect across the league. Quarterback spots are more fluid than ever, and with Cousins’ free agency on top of a loaded quarterback draft class, every quarterback-needy team (including the Jets) was impacted.
Will Jets make a play for Cousins?
The most obvious ripple effect of this trade is that Cousins will get paid — big-time.
Last year, Matt Stafford and Derek Carr both earned contract extensions and are now getting paid $27 and $25 million per year, on average. Expect Cousins to get offers around the $25-30 million range. He’s a borderline top 10 quarterback in the NFL, and certainly in the upper half.
|Stat (min. 50 attempts)||Value||NFL rank|
|Passing Yards||4,093 yards||7th|
|Passing Touchdowns||27 TDs||8th|
|Yards per attempt||7.6 Avg.||11th|
By all means, the Jets will not only make a play for Cousins, but they will also have a really good chance to get him. The other best fits for Cousins include the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills. The Browns have the second-most cap space in the NFL (roughly $109 million) and by far the most for any team in need of a quarterback. But if Cousins decides he doesn’t want to play for a team that has won just once in its last 32 games, the Jets are a safe bet.
New York enters the offseason with roughly $72 million in cap space — and that’s before the seemingly inevitable release of Muhammad Wilkerson.
How could it change the top of the draft?
If either Cleveland or Denver becomes Cousins’ next home, the top of the 2018 NFL Draft will likely change. If one of those two teams signs Cousins, there may only be one team (barring a trade) in the top five that need a quarterback. The Giants (No. 2 overall) have implied they will keep Eli Manning under center, Indianapolis (No. 3) is expecting to get Andrew Luck back and the Browns (Nos. 1 and 4) and Broncos (No. 5) round out the top.
Could the Jets sit at No. 6 with an option of all but one quarterback? It’s possible. In that case, general manager Mike Maccagnan could have his pick between at least three of the following: Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield.
The Jets didn’t make the trade
Arguably the best thing about the Smith trade for the Jets was that it wasn’t them making the deal. Pundits tended to agree that Washington got the short-end of the deal, as it had to give up a third-round pick and Fuller, whom former Washington general manager Scot McCloughan admitted he wouldn’t have traded.
Because the Jets don’t have a player of Fuller’s potential (maybe Leonard Williams, but certainly not at the cornerback position), they probably would have had to get rid of a second-round pick to acquire Smith. For a team with plenty of holes on the roster, keeping its two second-round picks is vital.
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