Alex Smith has made it to the Super Bowl. In a different role than I’m sure he had originally envisioned, but he is there nonetheless. Having lost his job to the less than fortunate combination of a concussion and great play by Colin Kaepernick, Smith now holds a clipboard.
Was it fair that he lost his job while dealing with a concussion? No, not one bit. Was the switch to Kaepernick justifiable at the time? Not really, the 49ers were 6-2 and Alex Smith was sporting a 104.1 passer rating; which still has him third in the league. Has the move worked for the 49ers? Oddly enough yes.
Smith will tell you his sole focus is the Super Bowl - even in his limited capacity - but only because he’s been the definition of professional in dealing with his demotion. You have to figure that in the back of his mind, Smith, like the rest of us, is wondering where he’ll be playing next season.
Where Smith will land next season will be very dependent on how the 49ers deal with the veteran quarterback. Smith is in the first year of a three year contract he signed in the off season they lost the Peyton Manning sweepstakes to Denver. There is the possibility that the 49ers will cut Smith following the Super Bowl, oddly enough, out of respect for what he’s given the franchise. It makes sense if you think about it. Instead of giving Smith no choice in where he lands with a trade, he would get to choose where he signs. Then again, the NFL is a business. Simple and plain. As much as they really do owe it to Smith to just cut ties, he does have some value. There is also an alright sized market for a quarterback. The only certainty for Smith is that his future with the 49ers is coming to an end. Where will he land next...
The most frequently mentioned teams in the Alex Smith sweepstakes are the Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, and the New York Jets. Rumour has it the Buffalo Bills might also be mildly interested. The Kansas City Chiefs make the most sense. They have a good enough offensive line, and if they can keep Dwayne Bowe he’ll have some decent receiving options also. Their amazing ground game and red jerseys would also make him feel right at home. There is also not a lot in the way of franchise quarterbacks in this year’s draft for the Chiefs to pick. It seems like the perfect fit.
Here is where things get really crazy though. What about Alex Smith going to the Eagles? Hear me out on this one. Much has been made of Chip Kelly and the system he plans to bring to the Eagles. He will require a mobile quarterback to make it work, and it’s unlikely they will bring back Michael Vick. Nick Foles isn’t exactly what you would call a mobile quarterback; nor a franchise quarterback. All signs point to the Eagles either hitting free agency or the trade market for a quarterback. Why not Alex Smith?
There are plenty of reasons for the Eagles to pursue Smith. For one, he’s got the speed to make Chip Kelly’s system work. He’s not Colin Kaepernick fast, but he’s fast enough. Best of all for Eagles fans, they will get a quarterback that’s made his career by not turning over the football. I think turnovers were a problem for the Eagles last year. Especially at quarterback.
Another great reason for the Eagles to pursue Smith though, is his mental toughness. There is no horrible experience in the NFL that Alex Smith hasn’t endured. He’s lost his job, several times. This year when he didn’t even deserve to. He completed 25 of his last 27 passes to give you an idea of what a roll he was on, and even threw a TD after suffering his concussion. If any quarterback available this off-season is ready for the pressure cooker that is Philadelphia, it’s Alex Smith.
The Cardinals are early favourites, the Kansas Chiefs make the most sense and the Eagles aren’t far behind. Only time will tell where Alex Smith plays next season, but if anybody deserves another shot with another team he’s that guy. He’s a class act, consummate professional and a much better quarterback than he will ever get credit for. All the best to Smith, wherever he goes.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV