WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Why signing Alex Smith to a long term deal made sense

It comes at a surprise to some but signing Alex Smith immediately to an extension cements the quarterback spot for the Redskins for now. We answer why.

(Photo credit: Lance Cpl. Matthew Bragg)

Shortly after it was announced that Alex Smith was going to Washington, with Kirk Cousins seemingly heading for the exit door after two years of failed negotiations, it still came as a surprise when Washington traded for Alex Smith last week. It wasn’t how Cousins would have wanted it to happen but the Redskins simply made a business move. Washington would rather pay $23.5 million instead of paying $34.5 million for a player who essentially have identical stats. Smith is four years older than the man he is set to replace but the ‘Skins clearly see no progress as a team with Cousins. Only having a winning record twice in his six years is a sign for a change, particularly when you are in a competitive division like the NFC East.

2015-2017 StatsGamesYards/gmCompletion %TouchdownsInterceptionsYards/attemptQB Rating
Alex Smith46239.866.761207.597.2
Kirk Cousins48274.56781367.897.5

Gaining by negating

In a bid to be competitive again in the NFL, Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, opted to retool not rebuild the team. By signing Smith, the Redskins will sacrifice their high touchdown to interception ratio by wanting to protect the ball more. Unlike in Kansas City where he had proven receivers in Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, and Travis Kelce, he will have to operate in a team consisting of a worn-down Jordan Reed, and inconsistent wide receivers in Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson. The veteran is certainly capable of adjusting to his new teammates but there’s little chance of him producing outrageous numbers and setting off fireworks. 

Same old story in crunch time?

Like Cousins, Smith doesn’t have a good playoff percentage. He has a 2-5 record in the playoffs compared to Cousins’ 0-2 record. Something Smith can be proud about is his ability to get his teams into the playoffs, but keeping them in there is a different story. Cousins has managed only one passing touchdown in two playoff appearances while the furthest Smith has gone is into the divisional championship. Four of Smith’s five interceptions came in the second half of games last year. Meanwhile, Cousins has an abysmal touchdown-intercept ratio of 8:9 in games when his team is behind.

Certainly the outlook isn’t as bright with Smith when compared to Cousins. Admit it or not, this Redskins team needed a change. Their average age as a team is 25 and with about $36 million of cap space remaining, the Redskins are optimistic of turning around their bleak future by producing exciting and winning football under Jay Gruden.

Securing an NFL Quarterback

One of the biggest headlines for the Redskins for the past two seasons is the contract of Cousins, who has produced again and again but can not get over the hump. This storyline has reached its conclusion now with fans seeing Smith as their new signal caller for next season. Aside from saving roughly $11 million of the books, Smith is a serviceable quarterback in the league right now if you want your team to be competitive. He is nearing retirement age at 33-years-old but by the time he starts declining, the Redskins would have no choice but to rebuild. This is a big gamble, but it had to be made in order for the team to cut their losses and still remain competitive. With Cousins expected to walk in free agency, the Smith era has just started at The Capital.

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