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Can Alex Smith Still Be a Starter in the NFL?

Can Alex Smith win the starter's job?

When Alex Smith sustained a compound fracture to his right leg playing for the Washington Football Team in 2018, it took seventeen surgeries to repair it. Fast-forward to 2020, he was voted the Comeback Player of the Year after going 5-1 to lead Washington to a division title and playoff football.

What’s more, after coming to an agreement with Washington management to be released this offseason, Smith decided not to retire and now will turn his attention to free agency. He believes he still has something to offer an NFL franchise at the age of 37, and not merely as a back-up. So now, Smith wants to compete for a starting job going into the 2021 season, according to Bleacher Report. Fortunately for Smith, there are not 32 starting-caliber quarterbacks in the league, and there are a handful of franchises where the veteran could challenge for a starting gig in pre-season camp.

One team to keep an eye on is Denver. The Broncos offense was anemic in 2020 with Drew Lock under center and no quarterback in the league throwing more interceptions than Lock’s 15 over the season. John Elway has quietly built a strong receiving corps led by versatile tight end Noah Fant but it was hamstrung by Lock’s inefficiency in 2020. Reports suggest the Broncos will bring in a veteran presence this summer to light a fire under Lock in camp after he coasted through last year’s pre-season without fear for his starting role. Elsewhere, the return of Von Miller from injury will see him reunite with Bradley Chubb on a potentially fearsome defensive line next season.

Chicago has also been touted as a possible destination for Smith, but for now, the Bears front office seems preoccupied with trading for Russell Wilson rather than exploring the free-agent market. Likewise, Smith could be a contender for a starting job if a vacuum is left in Seattle or Houston following a blockbuster trade for Wilson or Deshaun Watson. Regardless of this, Smith would make an excellent veteran back-up for a number of franchises, especially in Florida to either Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville or Tua Tagovailoa in Miami.

The 37-year-old’s departure leaves Washington in an interesting position as they go forward. Despite winning the NFC East last year, the division was by far the worst in football, and next season they will need to fend off the challenge of a healthy Dallas Cowboys team fronted by Dak Prescott on a new long-term deal. With former journeyman Taylor Heinicke currently competing with backup Kyle Allen for the starting quarterback job, Washington sits +400 to win the division in the NFL odds on bet365, even further out than a rebuilding Philadelphia Eagles outfit.

Wherever Alex Smith ends up, he remains one of the NFL’s great servants. In five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, he was a three-time Pro Bowler and was considered instrumental in the growth of Patrick Mahomes in his rookie season. So, any franchise would be lucky to have him and it will be fascinating to see where he ends up.

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