Let’s face it fans, it doesn’t matter how the organization tries to sugarcoat it, Alex Smith is gone this offseason. Any talk of keeping both quarterbacks because the Niners have cap room is just to invoke a trade.
Alex, despite being in the league since 2005, is only 28. In fact he is younger than Cleveland rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. While he does have a history of injury, and prior to the last 2 seasons turnover issues, Alex is most likely the best quartback hitting the open market. The free agent class, which unless Joe Flacco somehow doesn’t resign with Baltimore, is weak. It’s bad enough where Michael Vick is unwilling to renegotiate his deal with Philadelphia for the chance at being cut, collecting the guaranteed salary, and resigning with a new team.
Not only is the free agent class weak, but the upcoming quarterback class isn’t what you’d consider talented. Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon, Tyler Wilson and Ryan Nassib are by and large considered the top quarterbacks in the draft. That’s like taking Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III out of lasts year class. Sure someone if not multiple guys will be starting quarterbacks for years to come, there just isn’t the excitement right now.
If this league has taught us anything, it’s that new coaches mean new quarterbacks. This year had a lot of turnover at the head coaching position. The new coaches have 2 options; get a veteran quarterback to be your gap filler until they can find ‘their guy”, or draft and plug in right away. Hardly ever will you see a coach come in and go all in with a guy he didn’t select. With the lack of quarterbacks coming into the draft ready to start day 1, veteran quarterbacks will be needed in a lot of places.
The Kansas City Chiefs are an early favorite for a landing spot for Alex Smith. For a team coming off a 2-14 season they sent 6 players to the pro bowl. Place in Andy Reid at head coach and Matt Cassel might as well start packing his bags. Cassel was a turnover machine this last season to a point where fans cheered when he got injured in a home game.
Coach Andy Reid will look for a young guy, but using the 1st overall pick on Geno Smith isn’t Reid’s style. He will evaluate the quarterbacks in the draft, then try and grab someone in the 2nd or 3rd round. Their first pick will be a lineman on either side of the ball.
This really opens up the chances for Alex Smith. Reid won’t look to start a rookie right away. With the Chiefs not wanting to start Cassel another season, they could be the team to jump on Alex. He’s already shown he is willing to mentor a young quarterback, he won’t be a locker room nuisance, and he will work to be the best starter each and every week.
The Jets franchise is a mess. While they didn’t change the head coach, they did shake up the franchise. Rex Ryan knows he is on the hot seat and the only way to get off of it is to win now. They would love to dump Mark Sanchez, but the former GM guaranteed his salary for the upcoming season. That puts Rex in a predicament. Does he keep his faith in Sanchez, and if he fails Rex is fired or does he draft a rookie quarterback and hope he can perform like other rookies have the last few years.
Honestly if it wasn’t for the Sanchez contract I think you would see the Niners send Alex Smith and a 2nd round pick for CB Darrelle Revis. While the Jets don’t won’t to lose Revis, there cap issues would make this a possibility.
The Arizona Cardinals have possibly the worst quarterback situation in the history of the league. They are playing a backup quarterback starter money, the other quarterbacks shouldn’t be on anyone’s active roster and they possibly have the worst offensive line in the league, not to mention no running threat.
Alex Smith has been linked to Arizona for the fact that they need help, but I don’t see a way this works. The 49ers wouldn’t trade him to a division foe and I don’t think they would outright cut him with no compensation. Even if somehow Smith ends up in Arizona, the team wouldn’t be good enough around him to make them immediately ready to compete. I rule Arizona out, but for the sake of needing help they make the list.
The team that isn’t being talked about is Philadelphia. Michael Vick is going out the door, and Nick Foles was a Reid guy. Besides, Foles doesn’t have the makeup of a Chip Kelly quarterback. Chip Kelly in all likelihood will draft a young mobile quarterback to run his system, but having a veteran that fits the system wouldn’t be a bad plan.
Alex would give them someone to start right away and a quarterback that can mentor whomever they decide is the future. Who knows Alex could continue his resurrection journey and be the starter for the next 10 years? In the NFC East 10 wins in normally enough to win the division, it’s anyone’s game.
Alex is on the back burner for now, until about a week after the Superbowl. I’m sure we’ll see the cutaway shots of him on the sideline looking on, watching the team he was the starting quarterback of at the start of the season and somewhat feel sorry for the guy. They announcers might raise the question to the audience, pondering where he could possibly end up. But no matter where Alex ends up, fans in San Fran should root for him to play well, well so long as it isn’t against us.