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Alex Smith traded to Washington, and the Falcons will get to face him in 2018

An interesting trade changes the dynamic of the matchup.

Kansas City Chiefs v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons are having a quiet offseason thus far, as you’d anticipate they would. That doesn’t mean that earth-shattering moves that could alter the dynamic of the 2018 season, as well as a few Falcons matchups, aren’t already happening.

The first domino to fall came tonight, when we learned that longtime Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith will be headed to Washington. The terms of that deal aren’t known and won’t be official until mid-March, but suffice to say this means Kirk Cousins is headed elsewhere. The Falcons will get to play a new look Washington team on the road.

By almost any objective measure, this trade doesn’t really improve Washington. Cousins has very real flaws but has shown himself to be a capable, well-rounded quarterback in recent years, and a team like the Jets, Broncos, or Browns will no doubt benefit from getting him. Smith is an excellent quarterback who is almost allergic to risk, and he’s joining a team with plenty of big, physical receiving options who will be able to do good work on short-to-intermediate routes. On the other hand, he can’t make throws Cousins could make in his sleep, and Washington currently lacks the ground game that supported Smith so effectively for five seasons in Kansas City.

The good news is that Smith should age well, because he’s a smart, conservative quarterback who isn’t overly reliant on his physical skills. That’s good because he has already agreed to a contract extension with Washington.

Whew. While Cousins is shopping for a new deal and Washington is tying its future to Smith, the Chiefs are turning the keys over to Patrick Mahomes. The soon-to-be second-year quarterback is one of the most intriguing young players at the position in the entire NFL, with a huge arm, the ability to move around effectively in the pocket, and tremendous athleticism. If his brief audition in 2017 was any indication, he could be legitimately great, and he’s going to be helming an offense with some real playmakers in Kansas City. The Chiefs will be a team to watch in 2018.

Time will tell what this means for the matchup next year, but the Falcons scuffled against Smith in Kansas City in 2016, and Washington should at least be a decent football team in 2018. At least he probably won’t be beating them deep, though.