The Redskins traded for Keenum, a move that sounds big but really might be nothing more than them grabbing a backup for McCoy. It's a shrewd move considering it doesn't cost them much: $3.5 million in cap space, thanks to Denver paying the half of his guaranteed money this season, and a sixth-round pick in 2020. They also got back a seventh-round choice next year. It's a deal that can help Washington, but it does not scream: problem solved. If the Redskins handle this offseason like their last one, they will be adding compensatory picks anyway.
The Redskins like McCoy and he's still widely viewed in the organization as someone who can help them win games. That is, as long as they get more talent around him. Keenum would be viewed in similar terms. For that matter, anyone they bring here would be looked at the same way.
The difference between Keenum and McCoy surrounds their durability. McCoy has never started 16 games in a season and the past two times he has had a chance to be the starter here, he was hurt within three games. He broke his leg in his second start this past season.
With quarterback Alex Smith a longshot at best to return this season because of a gruesome leg injury, the Redskins needed another veteran on the roster. Keenum went 11-4 as a starter in the regular season and helped a team reach the NFC Championship Game two years ago. He has started 30 games the past two years; that's three more games than McCoy has started in his eight seasons combined.
If the Redskins start McCoy and he gets hurt, they're covered by a quarterback with experience. If Keenum starts and plays well, the Redskins know McCoy will be able to handle the backup role. Both quarterbacks are mobile; both will be aggressive throwing the ball -- and sometimes get into trouble with interceptions. But they also will give receivers a chance to make contested catches. Receiver Josh Doctson will be happy.
When the Vikings beat the Redskins in 2017, Keenum threw for 304 yards -- using his legs as a weapon in the pocket -- and four touchdowns. He also threw two head-scratching picks. That's Keenum; in a lot of ways that also has been McCoy. Neither is the ball-control, low-turnover guy like Smith. That could mean more big plays down the field, but also more turnovers. Last season, Keenum threw 18 touchdowns and 15 picks for Denver. Hence, the Broncos traded for Joe Flacco and Keenum is now here.
In two playoff games with Minnesota, Keenum turned the ball over four times. That's part of the reason the Vikings pursued Kirk Cousins so hard last offseason, eventually signing him to a deal worth $28 million per season. For what it's worth, McCoy, Keenum and Smith add up to a $27,275,000 cap hit. Cousins' cap hit will be $29 million this season.
But here's a key point: Neither Keenum nor McCoy is signed beyond this season. And there are still major questions about Smith's future.
That means Washington could still add another quarterback. The Redskins could easily draft one in the third round -- or find one in the first. The feeling at Redskins Park: Nothing is off the table. Or, yes, trade for Josh Rosen -- with his $1.2 million cap hit if traded, he's affordable. There's still mystery surrounding what Arizona will do with the first pick, which means Rosen might not even be available. The Redskins know this. By making trading for Keenum, the Redskins buy themselves insurance and can exhale.
They could have pursued a quarterback such as Teddy Bridgewater, but it's doubtful he would have signed for less than he got last year -- $6 million. And he would not have been the guaranteed starter ahead of McCoy.
This trade also allows them to keep their heavy draft capital if they wanted to make a move for receiver Antonio Brown. They'd still have to clear more cap space, but in theory if they wanted to give their first-round pick for Brown they could. Or they can keep trying to build through the draft and use all nine picks.
Trading for Keenum won't guarantee Washington anything. Who knows which version the Redskins will get: the Vikings one or the Broncos one? But they wanted -- needed -- insurance and that's what they got. And, they can still make another move.