Chiefs' reported trade with Washington drastically improves Kans - KCTV5

Chiefs' reported trade with Washington drastically improves Kansas City’s outlook

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) leaves the field after losing to the Tennessee Titans in an NFL wild-card playoff game in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann) Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) leaves the field after losing to the Tennessee Titans in an NFL wild-card playoff game in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Late Tuesday night, the Chiefs reportedly added one of the league’s best young cornerbacks, a third-round draft pick and saved roughly $16 million in cap space by trading Alex Smith, whose replacement is already in place, to the Redskins.

With the 2017-18 Super Bowl literally days away, the reported deal cannot become official until the 2018-19 league year starts in mid-March.

The soon-to-be 34-year-old quarterback was likely headed out Kansas City’s door in some capacity, as the team sat $7 million over the cap with Smith’s contract on the books. Such a contract left many to wonder if the Chiefs would have to flat-out release Smith to clear space.

Instead, Kansas City general manager Brett Veach got an offer he simply couldn’t refuse.

Without even breaking down the specifics of the deal, the fact that the terms of the trade were agreed upon nearly 45 days before any deal can actually go through, shows how much Kansas City wanted this trade done. Choosing it instead of testing the market and seeing what other teams have to offer, shows the strength in what Kansas City got in return.

Obviously, this marks the end of the Smith era and the start for Patrick Mahomes, a sign that Veach and head coach Andy Reid feels the talented 22-year-old is ready to take the reins of an already competitive team. Coming off a career year for Smith, the team didn’t absolutely have to trade him, but doing so shows some kind of confidence in what Mahomes can do.

Six-foot cornerback Kendall Fuller is quite the coup in return for Smith, as the 22-year-old graded out as the sixth best corner in the NFL by the football scouting site Pro Football Focus. A third-round draft pick in 2016, Fuller played in all 16 games last season and hauled in four interceptions.

Fuller’s age also really helps the Chiefs, as he’s set to make just under $700,000 next season on his rookie deal. That low of a cap hit, added with how much space Smith’s departure clears up, creates flexibility for who the Chiefs can sign or bring back on both sides of the ball.

The secondary will likely be the team’s most improved area, with Eric Berry returning from injury and Fuller lining up opposite of Marcus Peters. The Chiefs ranked as the 29th best pass defense in 2017, but with the addition of a speedster corner that many in the league think to be a future star, the secondary will be the unit’s strongest suit.

The deal creates a bit of an emphasis on the next two seasons specifically, as Fuller is only under contract for the next two years. That’s also when Peters’ deal runs through, assuming Kansas City tags the fifth-year option, which gives the Chiefs options and leverage with each other when the two corners hit the open market two years more from now.

Reports varied for what kind of draft pick the Chiefs could get for Smith on the open market, with some going as high as first round pick. But Fuller alone would have been an understandable return given Mahomes and Smith’s contract, and throwing in a third-round pick to the deal is likely what made Veach accept the trade now, instead of hearing out other offers.

Regardless of your opinion on Smith vs. Mahomes, the Chiefs as a whole are a lot better now than before this trade.

Fuller, who would have been the best corner on the Chiefs last season, is a massive upgrade at a position of need in cornerback.

Another third-round pick can lead to impact rookies, just look at Kareem Hunt.

A $16 million in cap space makes room for more necessary defensive upgrades in addition to the potential returns of Albert Wilson, Dustin Colquitt or Bennie Logan.

All for a player the team was probably always going to deal. Even if Mahomes performs at just 75 percent of the level that Smith did, the improvements made everywhere else not only makes up for the difference but probably makes the team even better than before.

Then if Mahomes is the real deal after all, and the team’s usage of the pick and cap space pans out, then this deal will probably classify as highway robbery when everything’s said and done.

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