Alex Smith was able to do what many thought was impossible after returning to the football field in 2020 following that devastating leg injury that nearly took his life back in 2018. While he was relentless and successful in his pursuit to get back to the NFL and play at a high level, the 36-year-old now has a decision to make about his career going forward. In regards to opting into playing another season or hanging up his cleats, the quarterback hasn't made any definitive plans and will take some time to clear his mind and figure out what his next steps will be.
"I had so much fun this year, to be back in the locker room and on the field to play a game I love and to lose yourself in it is one of the great feelings in the world," Smith said, via John Keim of ESPN. "My wife has been through a lot, my family has been through a lot but that's for another time and place."
Smith was held out of Saturday's wild-card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to a calf injury in the same leg that suffered a broken fibula and tibia a few seasons ago. Head coach Ron Rivera said after the game that Smith was inactive because the QB "just felt like he couldn't escape."
"I hated to do it to Alex, but it was for the better," said Rivera. "Alex was unbelievable. Believe me, he's a hell of a man."
"It's not the way you want to finish a season," Smith added of being inactive. "To even be in this situation is something that if presented to me a year ago, two years ago, I would have jumped at it."
Smith was able to start in six games for Washington and performed well. He was 5-1 as the starter and completed 66.5% of his throws for 1,220 yards, five touchdowns, and five interceptions. While he was clearly less than 100%, Smith was also able to gut out a Week 17 performance and throw two touchdowns as Washington clinched the NFC East with a win over Philadelphia. That effort alone seems to have him as a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year.
If Smith does decide to continue his career, however, it may not be in Washington. He is currently signed through 2022 but the club could clear $13.6 million off their cap if they cut him this offseason. That cap flexibility may force Washington's hand to move in another direction and put Smith on the free-agent market. So, even if he does decide to return in 2021, that may trigger another decision of where he wants to play.