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4 potential landing spots for QB Alex Smith in NFL free agency

NFL Free Agency: Washington Football Team QB Alex Smith
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Football Team is expected to part ways with 36-year-old quarterback Alex Smith at some point in the near future. Even after Smith earned NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors with Washington a season ago, rumors suggested that a divorce might be in the cards.

A former No. 1 overall pick of the San Francisco 49ers, Alex Smith is set to count $23.3 million against the 2021 NFL salary cap. Washington can save nearly $15 million by releasing him outright.

Despite some statistical struggles in the nation’s capital last season, Smith continues to prove himself to be a winner. In fact, he boasts a combined 80-36-1 record as a starter over the past decade.

Whether it’s as a quality veteran backup or to compete for a starting job, multiple teams will be interested in Smith once he hits the NFL free agent market. Here’s a look at his four best fits.

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Alex Smith to the Chicago Bears

NFL free agents: Alex Smith
Jan 3, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith (11) warms up before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Immediately after reports surfaced that Washington was set to move off Smith, indications came out of Chicago that the Bears might be interested. It makes sense to an extent. Smith enjoyed one of his best seasons when Bears head coach Matt Nagy was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator back in 2017 — recording over 4,000 passing yards to go with 26 touchdowns against five interceptions.

We already know that Chicago is looking to upgrade from Mitchell Trubisky under center. That’s why the team has been linked to Deshaun Watson and was in on Carson Wentz. Whether Smith is an upgrade remains to be seen. However, he could end up competing with Nick Foles for the starting job during training camp.

Read More: Chicago Bears quarterback: Best options to become starting QB in 2021

Alex Smith to the New England Patriots

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Jan 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

New England has not necessarily been in the market for top-end quarterbacks. It was not in on either Matthew Stafford or Carson Wentz and has not been linked to Deshaun Watson. Instead, there’s a chance that the Patriots bring in a veteran arm to compete with free agent Cam Newton. Recent comments from head coach Bill Belichick underscores this belief.

Smith is more of the prototypical quarterback Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels enjoys. He’d come relatively cheap, too. That’s no small thing for a Patriots squad looking to retool on the fly following their first losing season since back in 2000. For Alex Smith, this might also be the ideal landing spot.

Read More: New England Patriots quarterback options: Trade up in the 2021 NFL Draft

Alex Smith to the Denver Broncos

NFL Draft trades: Drew Lock
Jan 3, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) during the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a decent chance former second-round pick Drew Lock will return to the Broncos next season. However, it will not come with him as their unquestioned starter after the Missouri product tied for the league lead in interceptions with 15 during the 2020 campaign. At the very least, new general manager George Paton will be looking to add veteran competition.

Smith makes perfect sense in many regards. Consider this for a second. Since the start of the 2016 season, Smith has posted a 31-15 record as a starter with 57 touchdowns compared to 26 interceptions. That came with him missing the entire 2019 campaign to injury. During this very same span, Broncos quarterbacks have combined for a 32-48 record with 95 touchdowns against 81 interceptions. It’s simple math, folks.

Read More: NFL salary cap tracker: Where each team stands in 2021

Alex Smith to the San Francisco 49ers

Chicago Bears: Alex Smith is a starter among the most-winning NFL quarterbacks
Dec 13, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith (11) walks along the sideline against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Why the heck not? NFL rumors continue to point in the direction of the San Francisco 49ers at least finding a solid backup to Jimmy Garoppolo. Heck, they are not 100% sold on him for the 2021 season amid rumors that the 49ers are targeting Deshaun Watson. Even if San Francisco were to retain Garoppolo, it would need to find a capable backup with only Josh Rosen and Josh Johnson under contract behind him.

Talk about coming full circle. It was following the 2012 season that San Francisco traded Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs due to the presence of Colin Kaepernick on the roster. Fast forward almost a decade, and this could be a match made in heaven. The two rekindling their marriage with Smith having an outside shot at earning the starting job during training camp. It would also be a cost-effective move for the cash-strapped 49ers.

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