Last year, around this time, the Washington Redskins lost their starting quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency and had to decide who to pursue in order to stay relevant in the NFL. So they traded with the Kansas City Chiefs and acquired Alex Smith. The Washington Redskins had a good situation at the start of last season, an experienced starting quarterback in Smith who played in the playoffs several times in his career, and his backup Colt McCoy who had started a handful of games throughout his career.

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Both knew the offense that was implemented in Washington by coach Jay Gruden.

Washington was building through the draft and was banking on the veteran leadership of Smith to teach the younger players how to be professional NFL players. Then the unthinkable happened. Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury that ended his season. Two weeks later Colt McCoy suffered the same injury. While McCoy has been cleared to return, Alex Smith's playing future is still unknown.

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So Washington did what it needed to do. They agreed in principle to trade for Case Keenum.

Herbie Toepe, an Around the NFL writer, commented that, when John Elway spoke at the NFL combine, he wasn't sure what Keenum's role would be with the Broncos. Now his role is known, he won't be there. As reported by Ian Rappaport, the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos agreed to terms on a trade that sends Keenum to the Redskins. The Broncos will receive a sixth-round pick in 2020, while Washington receives Keenum and a seventh-round pick in 2020.

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According to Toepe "The Redskins were targeting Keenum as their top option, and he and McCoy will battle for the starting job."

Redskins acquire Keenum after he became expendable

The trade for Keenum that happened earlier was made due to a pending trade involving the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco will be traded from Baltimore to Denver and will be the starting quarterback. The trade doesn't become official until March 13.

Since Flacco will be entrenched as the starter, it was imperative that John Elway find a role for Keenum. He said that if the Broncos couldn't trade Keenum, then he envisioned him backing up Flacco.

ESPN writers John Keim and Jeff Legwold explain the trade from a financial standpoint. Keenum was scheduled to count $21 million against the Broncos' salary cap but has agreed to rework his contract to a one year deal with the Redskins.

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Initially, Case Keenum was owed a base salary of $18 million but will only count $7 million against the salary cap of the Broncos, but the two teams agreed to split the cost. Also, Denver will save $3 million by paying only $3.5 million as well as a $500,000 restructure bonus. Keenum was "shocked and disappointed" when the Broncos agreed to trade for Flacco, so being traded to the Redskins has to gives Keenum closure on his role with the Broncos.

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While this trade gives Washington a potential starting quarterback for this year, Keenum could also be the backup. Several people in the Redskins organization believe that McCoy could help them win. Whatever the case the coaching staff has time to sort it out over the next several months. Prior to trading for Keenum, the Redskins were a possible destination for second-year quarterback Josh Rosen who is rumored to be traded from the Arizona Cardinals after only one season.

Washington will have more options available after the trade

With Case Keenum agreeing to lower his cap hit, the Washington Redskins can re-sign it's own players or make roster cuts that won't adversely affect the team. Keim and Legwold of ESPN say that the Redskins have some possibilities in mind. First, they could become involved in the trade talks for Antonio Brown by trading with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team could also use the 2019 draft to acquire another quarterback. Since the NFL Combine ended last week, every team's representatives got to see which new players will hopefully stand out, which players will rise and fall based on their workouts. Alternatively, the Redskins could cut players like Zach Brown or Stacy McGee, which would free up $9 million. More importantly, Washington could choose to restructure some player contracts to free up even more money. With the trade, Keenum is now joining his fifth team and his fourth in as many years. He has a career record of 26-28 and has thrown for nearly 13,000 yards with 64 touchdowns to 42 interceptions.

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