ORLANDO — In nineteen years as an NFL head coach, Andy Reid has seen enough offseason deals to know that they rarely result in a “win” for both parties. But that’s how he characterized the late January trade that sent former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins for a third-round draft pick and, most notably, cornerback Kendall Fuller.
In Smith, Reid said Tuesday at the NFL’s annual coaches’ breakfast, the Redskins are getting an extremely intelligent, competitive and tough (both mentally and physically) quarterback who he believes will flourish in Coach Jay Gruden’s offense.
“He has had a lot of different coordinators, so he has experienced a lot of different offenses,” Reid said of Smith, 33, the top overall pick of the 2005 NFL draft, whose first five seasons were spent amid the tumult of the San Francisco 49ers before he flourished late in his San Francisco tenure under Jim Harbaugh and then with Reid in Kansas City. “I think there is still room to grow, and he’s wired that way to where he wants to get better every day and you love that part of him.”
Reid also praised Smith’s “coachability.”
“He’s unbelievably easy to coach,” Reid said. “I’ve told our young guy, [second-year quarterback] Patrick Mahomes, that he could have bought Alex a castle, and that wasn’t enough to just be in that [quarterback] room with him.”
In the 23-year-old Fuller, who had emerged as the brightest young star on the Redskins’ defense, the Chiefs are getting the player Reid argues could be considered “the best inside defender in the league” last season. “He has got a tremendous upside,” Reid said. “I think he is just tapping into that.”
Reid said that in Kansas City, Fuller will get a chance to diversify his coverage repertoire, playing outside a good bit of the time. “We’ll use him on the outside, but at the same time, we’ll use him on the inside, too, in nickel situations.”
Reid said that getting Fuller “was a big part” of closing the deal with the Redskins over other NFL teams that sought Smith. He credited Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach as the architect of a deal that pleases him immensely.
As for Smith, who led the Chiefs to two AFC West championships and four playoff appearances in five seasons in Kansas City, Reid said it was important to him, as a coach, to deal Smith to a team that he believed offered the best possible environment. In his estimation, that was the Redskins.
“We wanted to make sure that he went someplace that he could win and that he was going to be well coached, in an offense that kind of fits what he does,” Reid said. “I think Jay [Gruden] is a phenomenal offensive mind. And, as I’ve said, you’re not going to run out of gigabytes with Alex. He has got great capacity to learn and then to take it on the field and be able to do. And so, I thought that, out of the teams we were talking to, that was a great match for him.”
Asked why he felt an obligation to deal Smith to a team that would best suit him, Reid said: “I felt like I owed that to him for what he did for us. He was phenomenal for the Chief organization. And he’s a great guy. Once you’re around him here a little bit, you’ll understand why I think that. Top-notch — both he and his wife. Good people.”
But in losing Smith, the Chiefs believe they gained the help they needed in their secondary.
“I thought it was kind of a win-win for both sides, which doesn’t happen very often in this league,” Reid said. “I thought it was great for the Redskins, and I think it’s going to be great for us.”
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