Alex Smith provided the feel-good story of the 2020 NFL season, but heading into the 2021 offseason, what was his contract situation with the Washington Football Team? What options did Washington have with his contract, and how does Smith’s release impact the salary cap?
Alex Smith signed a contract extension in Washington after being traded
In 2018, the Washington Football Team traded for Alex Smith. At the time of the trade, Smith had one more year remaining on the contract he had with the Kansas City Chiefs. Following the trade, Washington signed Smith to a four-year contract extension, worth $94 million.
As part of the deal, Smith received a $27 million signing bonus and $55 million guaranteed at signing. However, Smith also had a clause in his deal where if he were on the roster on the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his $16 million in 2020 base salary would become fully guaranteed.
Smith had two years remaining on his contract in Washington
Entering the 2021 offseason, Alex Smith had two more years remaining on his deal. The four-year extension he signed kept him with the Washington Football Team was set to keep him on the team through the 2022 season. However, Smith had no more guaranteed money on his contract heading into the offseason.
What impact was Smith set to have on the Washington salary cap in 2021?
As of January 28th, Alex Smith’s contract was set to count the most against the Washington salary cap in 2021. Smith’s cap number was set to be $23.3 million this season.
However, with Washington currently sitting with a projected $30-35 million in cap space, the team did not have a desperate urgency to free up cap space as it stands. Regardless, that did not stop Washington from releasing Alex Smith on March 5.
What happens with Alex Smith’s contract after being released by Washington?
We saw during the 2020 season that Smith was not always the most reliable in terms of health. Given what he has been through, that is hardly surprising. However, it presented an interesting situation for Washington when considering how to handle Smith heading into the 2021 league year. It seemed unlikely any team would be willing to trade for Smith, meaning either a release or retirement was the likely outcome.
Washington could choose to release Smith in 2021
Given there was no more guaranteed money on Alex Smith’s contract, a release is relatively simple. Smith will count $8.6 million in dead money against the cap. They could have chose to designate him a post-June 1 cut, but they would have had to carry the full $23.3 million on their cap until June 2. At that point, his dead money and corresponding cap number would be just $4.3 million in 2021. The remaining $4.3 million would then count against the cap in 2022.
Does Washington have any other options with Alex Smith’s contract?
Washington did have the option to either restructure or extend the deal if they wanted to keep Smith on the team in 2021.
An extension seemed unlikely at 36, given his injury history. A restructure could have made sense if Smith was willing to take a pay cut. With none of his salary guaranteed, Smith could have potentially been open to either reducing or moving his salary into 2022. He could then have remained on the team at a significantly reduced cap hit than his $23.6 million cap number.
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