After returning to the NFL field in 2020, the rumors surrounding Alex Smith’s potential next landing spot in 2021 free agency has screeched to a halt. Where could Alex Smith end up in 2021, and is there any chance he ends up starting?
Alex Smith’s potential landing spots
After returning to the field with a 5-1 record in 2020, Alex Smith was released by the Washington Football Team. With the rumor mill for Smith extremely quiet, where are some possible destinations for the QB in 2021?
The Atlanta Falcons do not currently have a backup on their roster. The expectations are that they will draft a QB in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
However, Alex Smith could still have a role in the offense as a veteran backup and mentor. Smith’s willingness to sign a deal where he has no chance to compete for a starting role is a question mark, but Atlanta could be a solid place for Smith to fill a backup role.
The Colts are set to head into the 2021 NFL season with Carson Wentz under center. Behind him is set to be Jacob Eason, but he is unproven at this level. Wentz has a chequered injury history, so having a backup plan would make sense. Smith could be the ideal mentor in Indianapolis. He can take Carson Wentz under his wing while also mentoring Eason. Smith can also serve as a short-term starter if Wentz gets injured during the season.
There are rumors that the Jaguars are looking to trade Gardner Minshew, opening up Jacksonville as a possible destination for Alex Smith. With Trevor Lawrence expected to be the No. 1 overall pick, Smith could compete with Lawrence in camp.
Additionally, Smith could act as a support for Lawrence as he enters the NFL. Smith would also give the Jaguars a reliable veteran backup. Therefore, if there is any question mark surrounding Lawrence in terms of health, Smith could step in with limited concerns.
New York Jets
Regardless of whether it is Sam Darnold or a rookie, Alex Smith would make a valuable backup in New York. Smith understands the hardship of your career not going to plan after being a high draft pick. If the Jets roll with Darnold, Smith could be the perfect sensei.
Still, if the Jets go with a rookie, Smith can help them make that transition to the NFL. If required, Smith could be a short-term starter before moving aside for a rookie QB either during 2021 or next offseason.
The Steelers invested in Dwayne Haskins this offseason, so they may not be looking for a QB. On the other hand, Smith could make an interesting alternative. The Steelers are trying to maximize a win-now window, and the backup QB to do that may not be on the roster now. Smith could be an interesting player as a stop-gap fill-in if Ben Roethlisberger gets injured during the season.
San Francisco 49ers
Could a fairytale return to San Francisco be in the cards for Alex Smith? The 49ers are reportedly interested in Joe Flacco, so Smith may not even get a chance. Indeed, Smith could make sense as a backup to Jimmy Garoppolo back in the place he was drafted over 15 years ago.
What is Alex Smith’s market value?
Alex Smith was due to earn around $19 million in 2021. Coming off his leg injury, his value will be significantly below that. Backup QBs can often make in the region of $5 million, though we have seen QBs having to settle for the veteran minimum in recent years. Smith’s experience should certainly mean he sits closer to the $5-10 million region than the salary floor.
Consequently, with limited opportunities seemingly for Smith, plus the injury history, he may have to settle for less if he wants to continue playing. Therefore, with the rumor mill slow for Alex Smith, could we see the veteran QB consider retirement in 2021?
Coming off a season where he threw for 1,582 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions, Smith will hardly be hot property. However, his return to the field in a new system demonstrates his capability to be an effective backup in the NFL.
Want more NFL news and analysis?
Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay up to date with all things around the NFL. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis concerning the new 2021 NFL season.