“After the conclusion of that assembly we determined that it might be greatest for each events to maneuver on and we will probably be granting Alex his request to be launched,” Rivera stated. “I need to thank Alex for his contributions this previous 12 months. He made such an influence on our younger roster and his management was one of many key elements in our late season success and in making the playoffs for the primary time since 2015. Everybody right here in Washington needs Alex and his household the most effective going ahead and appreciates all that he gave to our group.”
The transfer leaves Washington with roughly $53 million in wage cap room — the fourth most within the NFL based mostly on a $180.5 million cap projection, in keeping with overthecap.com. Nevertheless it additionally leaves the staff with solely two quarterbacks below contract for 2021: Taylor Heinicke, who signed a two-year deal in February, and Steven Montez, who spent nearly all of final season on the apply squad and has not performed an NFL snap.
Kyle Allen, an unique rights free agent, is prone to be tendered a one-year, $850,000 contract to return, however Washington might pursue a starter in free company, by way of commerce or by the draft.
Smith, 36, returned from a compound leg fracture and a life-threatening an infection he suffered in 2018 to guide Washington to a 5-1 document in video games he began and the NFC East title final season. His return earned him the NFL’s comeback participant of the 12 months award and helped remodel a staff that started its season 1-3 with a fledgling offense led by second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
“Particularly if you see what Alex has gone by and simply his want and drive to get again and the enjoyment and thrill he will get from enjoying,” Rivera stated in early January. “For those who don’t really feel that from a man, particularly at his age, his expertise, his state of affairs and circumstances — that’s a terrific instance. That, to me, is why you play the sport.”
However in latest weeks, a break up appeared possible. Smith had two years remaining on his contract, with wage cap expenses of $23.3 million and $25.3 million, respectively, and Washington made it clear that it was contemplating shifting on from him when it made a aggressive commerce supply for Matthew Stafford. The Detroit Lions ended up agreeing to ship him to the Los Angeles Rams as an alternative.
Smith stated at season’s finish that he deliberate to “take just a few weeks” to determine his future in soccer, however in later interviews he strongly insinuated that he wished to maintain enjoying. He additionally spoke candidly about Washington’s reception to his return from harm.
“They didn’t see it, didn’t need me there, didn’t need me to be part of it, didn’t need me to be on the staff, the roster, didn’t need to give me an opportunity,” Smith stated in an interview with GQ journal. “Thoughts you, it was a complete new regime. They got here in, I’m just like the leftovers and I’m damage and I’m this legal responsibility. Heck no, they didn’t need me there. At that time, as you possibly can think about, all the pieces I’d been by, I couldn’t have cared much less about all that. Whether or not you prefer it or not, I’m giving this a go at this level.”
These feedback didn’t sit effectively with the group, in keeping with individuals aware of the matter.
Smith’s first sport again from his prolonged restoration was in aid of Allen in Week 5, throughout a rain-soaked loss to the Rams at FedEx Discipline. Together with his spouse and youngsters watching within the stands, Smith took his first hit for the reason that harm when star defensive deal with Aaron Donald jumped on his again for a sack. He took 5 extra sacks earlier than the sport’s finish.
However he returned a month later when Allen suffered a season-ending ankle harm, obtained his first begin in an in depth loss to the Lions, then led Washington on a four-game profitable streak to show round a season that had appeared misplaced.
Washington accomplished a sweep of the Dallas Cowboys with a Thanksgiving blowout at AT&T Stadium, upended the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Discipline, then defeated the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers in Arizona. Smith suffered a bone bruise in his surgically repaired proper leg that sidelined him for 2 video games throughout Washington’s last push for a playoff spot however returned in Week 17 to assist the staff clinch the division with a win on the Philadelphia Eagles.
His last moments with Washington, nonetheless, have been spent on the sideline. Smith’s bone bruise saved him from enjoying within the staff’s first playoff sport in 5 years, and he might solely watch as Heinicke led Washington throughout a hard-fought loss to the eventual Tremendous Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedEx Discipline.
In the course of the season, Rivera and plenty of of Smith’s teammates referred to as him an inspiration due to his profitable return from an harm most believed can be career-ending, if not worse. Heinicke, who was signed to Washington’s apply squad in early December, stated Smith’s management made his transition simpler and was important to his preparation for his begin within the playoffs.
“Within the final week once I performed, he would wait to do a few of his therapies later within the day simply to return in and watch movie with us quarterbacks and attempt to get me ready for the playoff sport, which I believed was wonderful,” Heinicke stated Friday in an interview. “ … Each participant within the league has an ego, and I feel you must have an ego to get to that time. He by no means confirmed that ego. When one other quarterback went in and began doing effectively, he was simply as excited for the staff as if he was enjoying. That claims rather a lot.”
Now, for the primary time since he entered the NFL because the No. 1 draft choose in 2005, Smith can select his subsequent cease as a free agent.
“I do know he nonetheless desires to play, but when he ever wished to be a coach or only a mentor at some group, I feel he’d be superior at that,” Heinicke stated.