Could Alex Smith Start for Washington in 2020?

Washington quarterback Alex Smith

Washington quarterback Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury during the 10th game of the 2018 season and hasn’t played since. Because of complications, which include 17 surgeries, in his recovery, it was assumed that he would never step foot on a field again.

Yet, in a miraculous feat, he was recently cleared for football activities. While walking normally seemed like a stretch just a year ago, now, Smith tells ESPN’s Stephania Bell that he’s been given the “green light” to practice and take contact.

Everyone was in agreement that my bone was in a really good place. I had healed a lot. They said that given the combination of the rod and where I was with the healing process, I had zero limitations and could even resume some football activities. To hear them say that, from a life standpoint, they wouldn’t restrict me from doing anything — I could go skiing or snowboarding tomorrow if I wanted — then on top of that, to get the green light that I could practice, get contact, that I had healed up, that much was pretty wild to hear. I didn’t know if I would ever hear those words.


Washington’s Financial Incentives to Play Smith

Two years ago, Washington traded for Smith, sending Kendall Fuller (who has since come back to the team) and a 2018 third-round pick (DT Malik Jefferson, who was drafted by the Bengals via the pick that the Chiefs traded) to Kansas City in the deal.

Washington inked Smith, who had one year left on his contract at the time of the trade, to an extension worth $94 million over four years after completing the deal. Of that amount, $27 million was the signing bonus, as Spotrac relays.

Alex Smith Contract Base Salary Signing Bonus
2020 $16,000,000 $5,400,000
2021 $19,000,000 $5,400,000
2022 $21,000,000 $5,400,000

Washington has a potential out in 2021, as they could release Smith and it would count toward $10,800,000 in dead money on their cap, according to Spotrac. While it’s possible that they take this route, if Dwayne Haskins struggles early, the franchise could easily shift to the 36-year-old QB in hopes that he can, along with an improved defense, will keep the team competitive.


How Quickly Could Smith Pick Up New System?

Smith is no stranger to learning new systems. He went through several offensive coordinators to begin his NFL career and while the scheme in Washington is different than the one he played in nearly two years, he may already have some familiarity in it, as I wrote for Pro Football Action. The QB’s first offensive coordinator in the league (Norv Turner back in 2006) is the father of Washington’s current OC, Scott Turner. It’s likely that there are many elements of the gameplan that he’s seen before.

During his final season in Kansas City, Smith led the league in passer rating. He had 4,042 yards, 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions in 15 starts. After the trade, led Washington to a 6-3 start to begin the 2018 season tossed 10 touchdowns vs. just five picks and accumulated 2180 passing yards. In his career, which includes long stints in San Francisco and Kansas City in addition to Washington, Smith has thrown for 193 touchdowns and just 101 interceptions. He has an overall record of 96-66-1 (yes, a tie).

Despite Smith’s long track record of success and ability to easily pick up Washington’s offensive system, it seems more likely that he sits behind Haskins and Kyle Allen during the 2020 campaign.

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