Alex Smith completed one of the most remarkable recoveries in sports history this past season, returning to the Washington Football Team after suffering a life-threatening leg injury two Novembers ago.
Despite Smith's incredible return to football, legendary Washington running back John Riggins doesn't think the 36-year-old should be part of the team's current or future plans at quarterback.
"They have to forget about Alex Smith. His days are done," Riggins said in an interview with the Washington Football Talk podcast.
"I'm not out there, I don't know. That's a roster spot I felt like -- you look back this year -- you're not moving forward."
Riggins is unlikely the only one who feels this way, but he's certainly one of the more prominent figures to suggest Washington should move on from Smith.
Smith started six games for Washington this season, with the team going 5-1 in those contests. The quarterback's statistics weren't necessarily impressive, but the Football Team played with a degree of confidence they didn't have without the veteran out there.
The quarterback's end to the 2020 season was not encouraging, though. Smith missed three of Washington's last four games, including their playoff loss to Tampa Bay, with an injury on his surgically-repaired right leg. The injury was first classified as a calf strain, but on CBS '60 Minutes' this past Sunday, Smith revealed it was more of a complicated bone bruise.
"Alex Smith is going to be 37 years old. You saw his leg played out on him," Riggins said. "I don't get that part. He's a worn-out football player, basically."
Riggins, Washington's franchise rushing leader, feels that the team should look to find a young quarterback this offseason, rather than sticking with Smith or signing a different veteran.
"There are so many young quarterbacks that you see this year. We're talking about first-, second-, and third-year guys out there in the NFL. There's a guard that's being changed here slowly," Riggins said.
"Personally, I'm not a guy who would go looking around for a retread, because I think you can get yourself into trouble there. I think you find a guy who you really feel great about and go ahead and take that leap of faith in the young guy, groom him and go from there."
Finding a franchise quarterback is one of Washington's biggest priorities this offseason; head coach Ron Rivera said so himself during his final press conference of the season.
Rivera has not ruled out Smith returning by any means, but the veteran has also not committed to playing next season. On Jan. 10, Smith said he will take the next few weeks to speak with his family before deciding on his NFL future.
If Washington wants to keep Smith around in a coaching role, Riggins is all for it. But as a player, he doesn't want the 36-year-old back in 2021.
"He's got a vast amount of knowledge, there's no question about that," Riggins said. "If you want to employ him as a coach or a quarterback coach, I can see that. But I think you really have to look to the future."