Following the loss of veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, who defected to the Chicago Bears in free agency, Mike Fisher of CowboysSI.com speculated on Dallas potentially adding former Washington QB Alex Smith as the No. 2 behind $160 million franchise cornerstone Dak Prescott.
“Alex Smith … knows this system because he knows all the systems,” Fisher said Wednesday. “[He] has played with [Cowboys head coach] Mike McCarthy when he was a rookie in San Francisco and is even admired by Dak Prescott. I think Alex Smith is a really good fit if you could find him affordable.”
According to Fisher, the Cowboys would be better served splurging on Smith rather than settling for the bargain-bin likes of Colt McCoy, Nick Mullens, and even the club’s current in-house options: Ben DiNucci, Garrett Gilbert, and Cooper Rush.
“If you want to really commit to being good, you need to recognize the backup quarterback is the 12th starter in the NFL. And with all due respect to all those other names, in terms of trying to bus-drive the Cowboys to a win if Dak Prescott ever goes down, Alex Smith is that guy.”
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The No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, Smith arrived in Washington in 2018 and sustained a career-threatening leg injury that led to life-threatening necrotizing fasciitis. Doctors managed to save his leg after 17 surgeries across a nine-month span.
Smith sat out the entire 2019 campaign as he gutted through a debilitating recovery process. At last, given a clean bill of health, he made his return to the field last October, filling in for injured Football Team QB Kyle Allen. Smith played in eight games (six starts), completing 168 of 252 passes for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns, and eight interceptions, leading the club to an improbable NFC East title.
It’s a story fit for Hollywood, one that deeply resonated with Prescott, who suffered his own devastating lower-body malady, compound-fracturing and dislocating his right ankle in Week 5 of last season. Thus, upon putting pen to paper on his record-setting contract, the $40-million-a-year passer — without prompt — expressed overwhelming gratitude to Smith for completing a journey that few dreamt possible.
“Even sitting there, holding my leg or whatever on the field, trying to put it back into place, or later on being in the hospital and waking up from surgery, that’s just what God’s thrown at me,” Prescott told reporters on March 10, via Pro Football Talk. “If you’ve known my life, if you’ve known my story, whatever circumstance that is, I’m going to take it with a smile and be thankful that God has put me in this position to overcome it, to be an example to others. So never in a million years [did he think his career was finished].
“And I have to thank, honestly, Alex Smith. Because at that moment when you’re sitting there and you have an injury like that or you come out of surgery, to see somebody who’s already done it and did it actually in worse circumstances, that allowed my mind just to go to straight, ‘Hey, I can do this. I’m going to beat this. It’s just a matter of time. What are the doctors saying? But I’m going to beat this.’ So I have to thank Alex for somebody who’s overcome that and won Comeback Player of the Year, and congrats to him.”
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An Unlikely Proposition?
There’s no doubt that Smith — a three-time Pro Bowler who ranks ninth all-time among active QBs with 35,650 career air yards — is the best available prospect on a picked-over market that saw Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick (Washington), Mitchell Trubisky (Buffalo), and even Joe Flacco (Jets) find new homes. There’s also no doubt that Smith would represent a monumental upgrade on presumed QB2 Gilbert.
But the chances of Dallas cutting a $10-12 million check to rent a 37-year-old (in May) Smith are fairly slim. In fact, it’s likelier the organization combs through the later rounds of next month’s draft to procure Prescott’s future clipboard-holder. If not, Gilbert remains the default choice.
“If I’m choosing between those two options, I think it’s more likely they turned toward the draft,” David Helman of the Cowboys’ official website recently wrote. “For starters, most of the proven veteran quarterbacks have signed elsewhere by now – and on top of that, the Cowboys don’t have a ton of money to spend on such an expensive position. They also have six Day 3 draft picks, so it’d be very easy to throw one of those at a developmental quarterback. All of that said, I’m not going to be surprised if they ride with the guys that are already here. Garrett Gilbert impressed in his lone start last season, and Ben DiNucci is still a young guy coming off his first season.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL