On late Tuesday, reports started to surface that the Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins have agreed on a trade to send quarterback Alex Smith to the capital in return for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third round draft choice in 2018. There is a lot to digest from this blockbuster move from the two teams' perspective – and also from the New England Patriots'.
Let's find out what this means.
New England will face Patrick Mahomes in 2018...
As the 2017 AFC West champions, the Chiefs will have to play the AFC East champions in 2018. This means that Kansas City will travel to Foxboro, and the team will do so with a new starting quarterback: Patrick Mahomes, the tenth overall selection of the 2017 NFL Draft. Mahomes only played in one game during his rookie season but despite the limited playing time, the Chiefs have now opted to hand him over the keys. Given his upside and draft status, not really a surprise
...and he should lead an even more dynamic offense.
While Alex Smith is athletic enough to be a dual-threat quarterback, his biggest asset is his intelligence and decision making. Whether or not the 22-year old Mahomes will display similar traits as a regular starter remains to be seen. Nevertheless, he brings more athleticism to the table when compared to his predecessor. The Patriots could therefore face an even more dynamic offense in 2018 than the one that defeated the team 42-27 on opening night this season.
Kirk Cousins could be headed to the AFC.
With Smith joining Washington, the team's current starting quarterback is certain to leave the team in March via free agency. There will be multiple suitors for the 29-year old and do not be surprised if most of them come from the AFC: The New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns all face an uncertain future at the position. Even playoff teams like the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars might have Cousins on their radar. All in all, there appears to be a realistic chance that the Patriots face the quarterback as soon as next season – maybe even twice.
The Patriots offense will face a deeper Chiefs secondary.
As noted above, Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller is also part of the trade and will head west together with the Redskins' third round pick. Fuller, who was a third round selection himself (in 2016), will add depth and talent to a Kansas City secondary that was good in 2017 but had some issues at the cornerback position. Acquiring the soon-to-be 23-year old should address some of the problems – and in turn create a deeper secondary for the Patriots to go against in 2018.
While Alex Smith is coming off the best statistical season of his career, trading him to Washington appears to be a good move for Kansas City. After all, the 33-year old's value will likely never be higher than now. And with the Chiefs already having his successor under contract, a trade certainly makes sense from the AFC West champions' perspective.
While all this means that the Patriots will face a slightly different looking team in 2018, with a less experienced quarterback under center, Kansas City still projects to be one of the best in the conference next year. And, who knows, maybe a Kirk Cousins-led Bills or Broncos team will also be in the running for the AFC's playoff spots.