Insider

Debating the pros and cons of Washington keeping Alex Smith in 2021

Insider

The Washington Football Team has gotten its best quarterback play from a 36-year-old that missed most of the previous two seasons after a broken leg that required 17 surgeries. 

Alex Smith’s story is incredible, and now an NFL Network report shows that Washington wants Smith back in 2021

Let’s break down the pros and cons of that decision:

Money - Smith will make about $19 million next season and count $23 million on the salary cap. If Washington cut Smith, they’d save about $15 million on the cap but would take a $9 million dead money hit. 

Verdict - Pro

Smith at $23 million on the cap won’t break the bank, and Washington is flush in cap space anyway. This team will need to spend some this offseason, another corner, receiver and linebacker help seems obvious, but keeping Smith on the books is not a problem. Plus as QB salaries skyrocket around the league, Smith at $23M is almost a bargain. Carson Wentz will count $35 million next season. Kirk Cousins will count $31 million. Smith’s $23 million cap number is the same as Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr. It’s reasonable. Now if something happens and Washington signs a free agent QB, then Smith has to go. This team would be silly to carry two high priced veteran QBs on its roster.

Ability - So far in 2020 Smith has completed 68 percent of his passes for 918 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s been sacked a lot - 12 times n four games - and his interception total is oddly high. 

 

Verdict - Pro 

Nobody will confuse Smith with Russell Wilson or Justin Herbert, but he can play. The injury risk will always remain, though he’s been fine in four games with plenty of contact. Next year at 37, Smith will be among the oldest QBs in the NFL but guys like Tom Brady and Drew Brees are playing in their early 40s. It seems very reasonable to assume Smith can deliver his normal very reasonable level of play next season. Very reasonable. 

Intangibles - Alex Smith might have the best reputation of any quarterback in the NFL. Seriously. Everyone likes him and respects him, which isn’t easy to do. 

Verdict - Pro 

Honestly, Ron Rivera probably wants Smith back next season more for what he does off the field than on it. That’s not to diminish what Smith does on the field, but odds are high that Washington drafts a QB in 2021 and Smith can help mold that rookie quarterback. Think it can work? Ask Patrick Mahomes.

Roster construction - The only real negative is that keeping Smith completely shuts down any chance that Dwayne Haskins is with this team in 2021. That means the organization made a huge mistake by drafting Haskins in 2019, and that’s a major miss with the 15th overall pick. 

Verdict - Con

This is tough because the person to blame is Dan Snyder, and he owns the team and isn’t going anywhere. Bruce Allen also deserves plenty of blame but he’s gone so what’s the point. The Haskins pick has been an unmitigated disaster, and while the blame does not fall entirely on the young QB, he needs a new start next year in another city. Washington totally botched their 2019 first-round pick, and it’s made all the more obvious by keeping Smith in 2021.