The Washington Redskins are one of the most dysfunctional franchises in all of American sports. They’ve continuously made themselves a joke, whether it’s poor management from the front office, lackluster coaching or players worried more about their external brand than learning how to improve as players. We can go on and on.
So when the front office gets something right, it’s important to note it and celebrate it, even if the move may only marginally improve the team’s hope of making the playoffs with its most expensive player likely to miss the entire 2019 season.
To fill the void likely left by quarterback Alex Smith, the Redskins acquired Case Keenum from the Denver Broncos. Denver signed Keenum to a hefty two-year contract worth $36 million last year, but Keenum failed to make an impact and Denver’s trade for Joe Flacco made Keenum easily expendable.
But Denver got little value for Keenum, receiving a sixth-round pick and shipping a seventh-rounder with Keenum to Washington. Keenum’s contract had already been restructured and thanks to Denver’s need to ship Keenum, he’ll only count for $3.5 million against the salary cap this season for the Redskins.
The acquisition of Keenum gives Washington a veteran quarterback to add to a room that currently includes just Colt McCoy. If Smith is unable to play this season, Washington now has two veteran options instead of one.
If Keenum has to play, there’s reason to believe he can find at least a moderate amount of success. After several years of middling play, Keenum emerged in 2017 in Minnesota, starting 14 games and completing 67.6 percent of his throws for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. The Vikings ended up moving on, but Keenum parlayed his season into the previous deal with Denver.
Last season didn’t go as planned, thanks to a variety of reasons. For one, Denver had few weapons for Keenum to work with and his best receiver, Demaryius Thomas, was traded halfway through the season. Keenum was definitely responsible for his 18-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but so was Vance Joseph’s poor offense.
Even if Washington only plans on using Keenum as leverage, trading for him makes sense. As CBS Sports’ Will Brinson notes, Keenum gives Washington all sorts of leverage in potential trade negotiations.
“In the trade market, the Redskins might be interested in Josh Rosen. Without Keenum on the roster, Washington might be forced into giving up some serious capital to the Cardinals in exchange for Rosen. Once again, they can play hardball now. And, more importantly, as pointed out by several followers on Twitter, perhaps the Redskins just landed themselves a nifty little trade chip in the form of Keenum.”
Brinson also notes that Keenum played for new Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury while the two were at Houston under Kevin Sumlin. If Kingsbury wants to start from scratch with Kyler Murray, Keenum is a solid veteran for him to learn from.
No matter how you slice it, the Redskins’ move for Keenum was as wise as it was shrewd. They are trying to make the best of an unenviable situation. Smith is taking up a large portion of the salary cap — approximately $20 million — which leaves Washington severely handicapped. The Redskins have few tools to worth with, but Keenum’s acquisition gives them more options than they had. Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen will never be able to wash away their football sins, but this move was low-key terrific.