Mahomes most likely will not match Smith’s regular season success initially, but the general belief is that he offers more explosiveness, which could be a strong combination with Kareem Hunt, who led the N.F.L. in rushing as a rookie in 2017. And Fuller, a promising young cornerback, will join a secondary in need of a playmaker.
For the Redskins, who reportedly have agreed to a four-year contract extension with Smith, the move saves money. Cousins would have cost more than $34 million next season if the team used the franchise tag on him again. The deal also promises at least a mild upgrade on the field in the short term. Cousins is four years younger than Smith and has a stronger arm, but he has been much more inconsistent over his three seasons as a full-time starter. In that time, Cousins had a combined record of 24-23-1 and led Washington to the playoffs once.
Where things get truly interesting is what happens to Cousins, Case Keenum and any other quarterback who ends up entering free agency. The list of teams that believe they are a quarterback away from being regular contenders includes Minnesota, Denver, Arizona and Buffalo. Cleveland and the Jets will most likely be in the market for a free-agent quarterback as well.
Cousins will get his choice of destinations, and will presumably receive the long-term deal that he sought in Washington. Keenum would probably be the second choice among teams that would rather sign a known entity than pursue a quarterback in the draft.
It is only then, after the trade is completed and Cousins and Keenum sign, that players like Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers will look at how things went and decide just how much they are going to demand from their teams in renegotiations.
And all of that comes, essentially, as a result of the Chiefs wanting to switch to Mahomes from Smith.
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