When Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith went public last week with how the franchise did not seem to support him in his miraculous return from a serious leg injury, it appeared to signal the end of his time in Washington. Well, that has since come to fruition as Washington has informed Smith that they have granted his request to be released. This move was to be expected as CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones previously reported that the two sides would separate in the near future. Releasing Smith will reportedly save the team nearly $15 million.
"I had a chance to meet with Alex Smith this week and we had a very honest and real discussion," head coach Ron Rivera said in a statement released by the team. "We had the chance to reflect on the 2020 season and talk about moving forward into next year. After the conclusion of that meeting we decided that it would be best for both parties to move on and we will be granting Alex his request to be released.
"I want to thank Alex for his contributions this past year. He made such an impact on our young roster and his leadership was one of the key factors in our late season success and in making the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Everyone here in Washington wishes Alex and his family the best going forward and appreciate all that he gave to our organization."
While Washington hasn't had consistency at the quarterback position since the Kirk Cousins days, Smith was without a doubt the best option they have had over the past three years. In 2018, he had Washington at 6-3 and atop the NFC East before going down with the gruesome leg injury that almost cost him his life. After just one year off, Smith returned to the field in 2020, went 5-1 as the starter and helped Washington secure an NFC East title for the first time since 2015. Smith wrapped up the season by being named the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Despite all of the adversity Smith had to successfully battle through, the franchise believed his career was done, he said.
"They never thought I was coming back," Smith told GQ's Clay Skipper . "When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team's plan. 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. 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."
As CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora recently wrote, the underbelly of NFL transactions doesn't leave much room for Cinderella stories. Smith, who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the top pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, will now hit the free-agent market for the first time in his career. There will be interest in him, but the majority of that interest will be in his services as a backup or mentor instead of leading a franchise as the starting signal caller. As for Washington, it's likely back to the drawing board yet again at the quarterback position. Since Smith went down with his leg injury in November of 2018, Washington has started six different quarterbacks.