With quarter Alex Smith taking off for Washington and cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick heading to Kansas City, the blockbuster trade may be the rare deal that creates multiple winners.
The Chiefs cleared $17 million in critical salary cap space, Washington lands a franchise quarterback and Kirk Cousins breaks free from a relationship that turned south, heading to the free agent market young and healthy. Let’s countdown the biggest winners in this trade.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach
Conventional wisdom says a first-time general manager at the tender age of 39 might be reticent to make to move too far too fast. But Veach has shown a willingness to move aggressively pursuing deals for the Chiefs, and so far it’s paying big dividends. NFL teams knew the Chiefs needed to create cap space, yet Veach created a bidding war for his best commodity and landed a deal better than most expected. The whirlwind pace of the young GM begs the question what he will do for an encore, and no one expects the Chiefs to stand pat between now and the draft. Veach emerges from this deal as the biggest winner.
Washington QB Kirk Cousins
The battle of wills between Washington’s front office and Cousins comes to an end, and now it’s time for the quarterback to get paid. Successful quarterbacks under age 30 without healthy problems simply don’t hit the free agent market often. Cousins’ new contract could even exceed the extension that Smith signed with Washington.
Washington QB Alex Smith
Smith ranks as the 17th-highest paid player in NFL history according to Spotrac.com. His career earnings through the 2018 season will top more than $123 million, and that’s before a four-year contract extension kicks in. The $94 million, four-year deal with $71 million in guaranteed money guarantees Smith will comes close to becoming a $200 million player for his career. Smith wanted some control over where he landed, and he got that with this deal. Smith should fit well with the offense under head coach Jay Gruden and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. Smith endured great scrutiny in both San Francisco and Kansas City, but those expectations may ratchet even higher in Washington. Yet even if the marriage between Smith and Washington doesn’t last, Smith got his final payday.
Chiefs CB Kendall Fuller
Fuller stood third on the Washington depth chart at cornerback and far from a household name before his name became linked to the Smith deal. Now it seems everyone knows the No. 2 cornerback for the Chiefs who ranked as the league’s best slot corner in terms passer rating and earned the sixth-best cornerback grade of the season from Pro Football Focus. How Fuller handled the trade on Twitter endeared him to Chiefs fans, and he looks well on his way to becoming a fan favorite before he ever takes a snap for the team. The Chiefs scouted well and got the player they wanted.
Washington president Bruce Allen
The general consensus even among Washington beat reporters affirms the Chiefs won the trade, but there are plenty of benefits on both sides. Washington final ends the drama with Cousins, a relationship that clearly didn’t work and left a cloud around the franchise. Smith is an upgrade over Cousins, and should work well within the system. Washington gave up a young rising cornerback, but they dealt from a position of strength. Allen went out and got the best quarterback that will be available in this year’s market. There is certainly more risk for Washington than Kansas City, but once the shock of the trade wears off and Smith settles in with his new team, this could work out for well for both teams.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
The apprenticeship is over, and it’s time for Mahomes in Kansas City. There might be growing pains at times, but this is what Chiefs fans wanted. They want an opportunity to have a face of the franchise homegrown from the start. Great expectations will make it a challenge, but Mahomes has the physical talents and charisma to make it work.