The Washington Football Team is expected to release Alex Smith in the coming days, per Ian Rapaport; and this comes as no surprise to many. While Smith led Washington to a 5-1 record as a starter last season, earning Comeback Player of the Year in the process, the 36 year old quarterback was not his old self. He finished the season with a mediocre 6:8 TD:INT ratio, and he struggled greatly against blitzes. Looking at Smith’s difficulty with Philadelphia’s pass rush in Week 17 in contrast with Taylor Heinicke’s electric play-making ability against the Buccaneers shows that Smith no longer has the necessary mobility to be a top-tier quarterback. This lack of mobility in tandem with a late season leg injury that got increasingly complex paint a picture of a quarterback who is quickly regressing.
This release is, in large part, a financial move for Washington. By dropping Smith, the team is freeing up over $14 million in cap space. With a talented young team and a low salary cap for the 2021 season, Washington has the chance to utilize its cap room to acquire key free agents in order to assemble as much talent as possible while many of their stars are still on rookie contracts. While Smith’s presence and inspiration are an asset, his leg and contract are a liability.
This is a bittersweet moment for Washington fans. Though it’s a logical choice to release Smith, few quarterbacks in recent memory have finished their run with the team with a winning record. Smith’s comeback was an inspiration to fans, athletes, and people across the world; and he played a crucial role in Washington’s path to the playoffs in 2020. Though his time here didn’t go as expected, Alex Smith will always be remembered fondly in Washington.