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Report: Alex Smith has been traded to Washington, making Kirk Cousins a free agent

We are one step closer to having Kirk Cousins joining the Broncos.

Denver Broncos v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

According to multiple reports, the Kansas City Chiefs have traded veteran quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins.

This is news for the Broncos because it will make quarterback Kirk Cousins - who has been linked to the Broncos heavily recently - a free agent here in a month.

This makes the Broncos the clear favorites, in my opinion, for the soon-to-be-free-agent quarterback. Now they do not have to deal with Washington potentially franchise-tagging Cousins, or a possible Transition Tag/trade that was speculated about earlier today.

This now ensures Cousins hits the open market, and we can expect the Broncos to make a “big push” to land Cousins. After the Senior Bowl, Sporting News’s Eric Galko said that “It seems it’s more likely than not that Kirk plays for the Broncos next year.”

Earlier this month, Galko also said it was a two-team race for Cousins’ services between the Broncos and Washington. Now that Washington is out, that leaves the Broncos as the clear favorites.

At this point, it looks to be a two-team race for Cousins: the Redskins or Broncos. The Redskins haven’t done themselves any favors with how they’ve handled Cousins since the 2012 draft, but the fact that he’s grown into a sense of comfort in Washington with coach Jay Gruden and kept relatively upright thanks to offensive line coach Bill Callahan, Washington should be the clear favorite.

But the Broncos have made it clear to those close to Cousins that they’re ready to make a big offer. Over the last two seasons, since moving on from Peyton Manning and letting Brock Osweiler walk (before bringing him back), the Broncos have spent the fewest of any NFL team on quarterback (under $7 million combined over 2016 and ’17). Elway needs to spend at quarterback to win.

The biggest road block between a Cousins and Broncos deal figures to be the mega-contract he is expected to receive, but Galko says the Broncos have a plan.

He is told they will offer Cousins a lower average salary that is “VERY HIGH” in guaranteed money. This would make the cap hit against Denver low in the early years but still give Cousins the guaranteed money he is seeking.

Cousins spoke to Pro Football Talk earlier today and told Mike Florio that money matters of course, but winning is his top priority when picking a new team this winter.

“Is money a part of it? Sure. Is it the only thing? No,” Cousins said on PFT Live. “It is about winning, and that’s what I want more than anything, so I’m going to be willing to make sacrifices or do what has to be done to make sure I’m in the best possible position to win, and that’s what the focus is going to be.”

The Broncos haven’t been winners the past few seasons but were just Super Bowl champions two seasons ago and have been winners throughout their history. So they must be an attractive landing spot for him.

The main competition for Cousins figures to be the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, and potentially the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals.

What helps the Broncos’ odds is that reports came out today that the Jaguars plan on sticking with Blake Bortles in 2018, which takes them out of the running for Cousins.

I’m obviously biased, but if Cousins is looking for a winner, the Broncos are the easy choice. General Manager John Elway has proved in the past that he can put together a winner; the only question has been at quarterback.

Also, the Browns have won one game in two years, the Jets are not a winner, the Cardinals are not a winner and have a first-time Head Coach, and the Bills just ended a nearly two decade long streak of missing the postseason.

The Broncos have issues, don’t get me wrong, but they have to be the most attractive landing spot for Cousins. They clearly want him, and now multiple obstacles are cleared.

We just need Elway (and Kubiak) to woo Cousins the same way he did with Peyton Manning.