The Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs tried to steal some Super Bowl thunder Tuesday when the two teams agreed to a trade centered around quarterback Alex Smith.
The former first overall pick of the San Francisco 49ers will head to Washington, while a third-round pick and underrated nickel cornerback Kendall Fuller will be sent to Kansas City when the deal is made official on March 14.
Most assumed the Chiefs would cut Smith or wait until around free agency to make a trade. Instead, Smith knows he is headed to the Redskins before the Lombardi Trophy is even handed out.
He is also reportedly set to receive a four-year extension with approximately $70 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN. The report said he will average $23.5 million per year.
Jaguars' 2018 unrestricted free agents
You can take away a few things from this deal on the surface.
Smith was never going to play on a one-year, $17 million deal. The Chiefs were also probably against trading him to a fellow AFC playoff contender, with the possibility of the deal coming back to haunt them in the postseason.
If the Jaguars were interested in Smith, they wouldn't have been able to acquire him if that second point was actually an issue.
The deal creates immediate chaos for the quarterback market. Kirk Cousins is now free to collect a check elsewhere with Smith in place in Washington. He will have plenty of suitors on the market with several teams needing serious upgrades at the position.
Cousins is four years younger than Smith and has been franchise tagged twice. With so many suitors vying for his services, Cousins could set the market for the position with his impending deal.
Remember, it's not about the previous production or level of talent. A franchise quarterback rarely hits the market and when he does (examples: Drew Brees, Peyton Manning), he typically demands top dollar because the player has all the leverage.
If the Jaguars are interested in Cousins, they can make the numbers work for this year and figure out the rest of the mess next offseason. That said, while the numbers can work this season, it doesn't mean the contract won't be a detriment in the future.
Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue and Myles Jack will be eligible for extensions after next season. The high-priced trio of Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson and A.J. Bouye will continue to make massive amounts of cash over the next several years and the team still has depth issues at several spots.
The market-setting money of a franchise quarterback could impact the Jaguars' ability to keep their big-play defense intact and improve other areas of the roster.
With that said, finding a franchise quarterback is paramount in the NFL. If the Jaguars believe Cousins is the guy who can win them a championship, they need to do everything possible to make sure he is in a Jacksonville jersey next season. If they don't feel that way, they should probably stick with their internal option.
Blake Bortles' $19 million salary gives the Jaguars flexibility.
Bortles still has a lot to prove and he could potentially make more money by improving upon his success of this past season. The deal also allows the Jaguars to hold off on an investment in the position until next offseason when the team has an even clearer vision of their structure.
The team can sign players around Bortles to make the offense better with the extra money that would have been used for Cousins. The front office is also free to invest a high draft pick on a potential heir to the quarterback throne.
Jacksonville seemingly played itself out of the range of the top quarterbacks in the draft. Once you get to the final third of the first round, the quarterbacks in that range typically need time to develop or have some legitimate growing pain concerns.
The Jaguars went to the AFC Championship Game just two weeks ago, so I believe they are less inclined to hand the keys to a rookie with the potential for a letdown.
Bortles knows the system, he has been invested in and letting him walk after that investment would be foolish, unless you have his clear replacement in place. The NFL forces teams to make big money decisions prior to the draft, so the Jaguars would need to decide on their veteran leader in March.
If the Jaguars are intent on building the roster and keeping it together long-term, Bortles is probably their best bet for financial and depth security. If Jacksonville wants to sell out for a Super Bowl, taking the high-priced risk on Cousins could be their plan of attack.
The way the Jaguars play the quarterback market will go a long way in determining their roster trajectory this offseason and beyond.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter: @Mike_E_Kaye.