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What’s next for Alex Smith? Report of expected release in Washington leaves questions

The Washington Football Team is expected to release Alex Smith soon, according to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Kim Jones.
Derik Hamilton, Associated Press

Alex Smith’s days with the Washington Football Team are expected to end soon, per a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Kim Jones.

Washington is expected to release the former University of Utah quarterback “in the coming days,” according to the report, after Smith was named the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year last month.

Smith returned to action this past season following a gruesome leg injury in 2018 that required 17 surgeries and nearly led to the amputation of his leg. He led Washington to a 5-1 record during his time as starter, helping it win the NFC East division and reach the playoffs.

The 36-year-old Smith passed for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 66.6% of his passes in 2020. He missed the team’s final three games — including the playoff matchup — with a calf injury.

What happened in Washington

The report comes a little over a week after GQ Magazine published a story in which Smith said his comeback threw a “wrench” into Washington’s plans.

“They didn’t see it, didn’t want me there, didn’t want me to be a part of it, didn’t want me to be on the team, the roster, didn’t want to give me a chance,” Smith told the magazine. “Mind you, it was a whole new regime, they came in; I’m like the leftovers and I’m hurt and I’m this liability.

“Heck no, they didn’t want me there. At that point, as you can imagine, everything I’d been through, I couldn’t have cared less about all that. Whether you like it or not, I’m giving this a go at this point.”

Smith has a $23.3 million cap hit in 2021, per overthecap.com, and Washington would save $14.7 million if it released him.

Smith started the 2020 season as the team’s third quarterback, behind Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen. Haskins was eventually benched due to ineffective play and released late in the season, while Allen suffered a season-ending ankle injury, opening the door for Smith to start. Taylor Heinicke, who recently re-signed with the team on a two-year deal, stepped in when Smith was hurt.

“There’s an intangible that some guys have and possess,” Washington coach Ron Rivera told ESPN. “Alex has it. Can it be replaced? Well, you’re going to have to find a guy that has those same types of intangibles. Those guys are special. They only come around every once in a while.”

What now?

Smith, who entered the NFL as the first overall pick in 2005 and has played for three organizations, isn’t ready to retire, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported in mid-February.

“I’m told that Alex Smith after a great comeback year, going 5-2 down the stretch, he does want to continue playing football,” Fowler said on “SportsCenter.”

Rapoport said one of the teams that would make sense to Smith is the Chicago Bears. Mitchell Trubisky is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the NFL’s new league year starts March 17, and Nick Foles, who started seven games for Chicago before being replaced by Trubisky, has one year remaining on his contract.

Matt Nagy, who was Smith’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City, is now the Bears head coach.

In addition to the approaching new league year, Rapoport indicated the timing of Washington’s expected release of Smith can also be tied to an already busy quarterback movement this offseason, with Matthew Stafford heading to the Los Angeles Rams in a trade that sent Jared Goff to Detroit, as well another that took Carson Wentz to Indianapolis.

“They know they couldn’t wait, with as fast as this quarterback carousel has moved — three quarterbacks already getting traded — the Washington Football Team inquired about basically all of them and more, and they’ve been deep in the quarterback trade market, trying to figure out who their answer is,” Rapoport said during a segment on NFL Network.

“It was just a matter of time until they decided to release him. My understanding is that release is coming. Yes, Alex Smith was one of the best stories in the NFL this year — comeback player of the year, it was so cool to see him out there, but this is where the story ends.”