Peeling back 5 layers of Alex Smith's trade from Kansas City Chiefs to Washington

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It’s rare that we see a starting quarterback dealt in the NFL, never mind one coming off as superb a season as Alex Smith, and even rarer to see a 30-year-old just entering his prime in Kirk Cousins hit the open market.

Yet there are several other fascinating figures and storylines that will emerge after the Chiefs agreed to send Alex Smith to Washington in exchange for a third-round pick and CB Kendall Fuller.

So here are five other angles whose importance are only just beginning to come into focus as the dust continues to settle on a story so big it’s stolen the spotlight from Super Bowl 52 just four days before kickoff.

The coaches

How much influence did Matt Nagy, Smith’s former right-hand man and current Bears coach, have in the quarterback’s profound improvements in Year 13? And will rookie coordinator Eric Bienemy be up to the task of helping Andy Reid’s development of Patrick Mahomes?

Similarly, did Cousins’ production dip slightly last year more due to the departure of wunderkind Sean McVay or free-agent losses of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson and one of the NFL’s worst injury situations? Because Smith uniquely reset the bar at age 34, and it’s up to Jay Gruden and his staff to ensure he maintains the “new Alex” reputation to make this trade worth it.

The corners

Fuller is an ascending young player, and spin or not, there seemed to be nearly as much unrest in Washington in the immediate aftermath of this deal about losing a cornerback still climbing than a quarterback who may or may not already have reached his ceiling.

Fuller, a revelation in the slot last season — his second removed from a serious knee injury in college — may move to the outside and flank blue-chip playmaker Marcus Peters in Kansas City. Indeed, the Chiefs clearly valued the “player to be named later” nearly as much if not more than the draft compensation.

Meantime, in Washington, Josh Norman turns 31 next season, and though he’s still playing at a high level, he wasn’t as good in 2017 as in his first year in Washington and certainly not his last in Carolina. Who’ll run opposite Norman? Bashaud Breeland is set to hit the open market. Quinton Dunbar, who recently signed an extension, isn’t coming off the best season but has upside.

The X-factor would appear to be second-year player Fabian Moreau, like Fuller a faller in last year’s draft due to an injury coming out of college. He was a fringe first-rounder prior to his torn pectoral suffered at UCLA’s Pro Day, and Moreau has prototypical No. 1 skills, should Washington properly develop them.

The call-up

That’d be Mahomes, the Chiefs’ bazooka-launching first-rounder, who made his starting debut in Week 17 when the club had its division title and playoff seeding secure. He might have been the best pure talent at the position coming out of last year’s draft. He played a ton in college, albeit in the Air-Raid offense.

So how quickly can he assimilate alongside the Chiefs’ star triplets – Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt? That’ll help us determine whether Kansas City can maintain its stranglehold on a division in heavy transition despite having an aging ‘D’ and more salary-cap questions to answer.

The Cousins sweepstakes

Not since Peyton Manning hit the open market after multiple neck surgeries and a year away from the game in 2011, if not Drew Brees in ‘06, has a veteran quarterback like Cousins gotten to the open market, where an all-out bidding war can ensue.

Since we all seem to temporarily forget that quarterbacks simply cost more, including some shock when Smith’s reported extension numbers — $71 million guaranteed, an average of $23.5 million in new money annually over four years — emerged Tuesday night, let’s make it crystal clear: Cousins’ impending deal will reset the bar for the position. Of course, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan are all poised to soon get paid and may reset the bar shortly before or after Cousins. Here are the four favorites, in our estimation, to land Smith, in order of current available cap space, per spotrac Browns ($111.7 million)

Jets ($79.5 million)

Bills ($31.3 million)

Broncos ($28.5 million)

The clubhouse leader

We’re actually going with the club whose cap will require the most finessing, the Broncos. John Elway is the best salesman of a bunch including John Dorsey, who reportedly was beat out by Washington for Smith’s services; Mike Maccagnan, who understandably dug his heels in with Ryan Fitzpatrick two years ago and has struggled similarly to Elway to solve the QB position; and Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott, the rookie duo with the relatively barest track record.

The Browns can offer the most money, not necessarily the best situation to succeed, which we believe Elway will effectively sell with a great ‘D’ already in place and the allure as a former player whose second career act made him a Hall of Famer — you know, the spiel that helped him reel in Manning.

Pro Football Weekly