Riggo’s Rag Redskins Mailbag: Roster long shots, COVID-19, more
By Ian Cummings
Hogskins: Hi, Ian. I want to know if there is a real chance that Alex Smith plays for The Skins again?
Ian: Hey, Hogskins! Good question.
I’ll break this question into two parts. Part one: Is there a real chance Alex Smith plays football in general again? A year ago, I might’ve said no, but after seeing how much progress he’s made since the injury in his documentary a couple months ago, I think he does have a chance.
Smith was seen running near full-speed on his injured leg at the end of the documentary, as well as going through passing drills. He’s made an unbelievable amount of progress to this point, and he’s made the impossible look possible. With everything we’ve seen, I don’t think you can count out a return.
That said, just because Smith showed a ton of progress, doesn’t mean he’s there yet. His leg will have to be very strong in order to withstand the constant contact of the NFL, and even then, he still may have trouble putting weight on it when he’s planting his back foot to pass the ball. Coming back to the game is already a huge risk for Smith, who’s spent a year and a half rehabbing. But he’s set on trying, at the very least, and after how far he’s come, no one can say he can’t do it.
That said, there is another part to this question: Is there a chance Smith plays for the Redskins specifically again? For this question, I’d say the chances are lower.
I’m admittedly bullish on Dwayne Haskins this season. Haskins showed promising growth down the stretch in 2019, and he’s been working very hard this offseason, not only to learn the scheme and connect with his coaches and teammates, but also to lose bad weight and get himself into shape. He’s motivated to take a big leap in 2020, and I think he will.
That, of course, would cloud the outlook surrounding Smith. Smith has said before that his path does not conflict with Haskins’, but if Haskins runs away with the quarterback job this season, that will obviously put a wrench in Smith’s plan to come back to football.
Maybe Smith is fine with being a backup. Maybe that’s the best role for him after his injury. But at that point, the tough discussions surrounding Smith’s contract would take place, and the Redskins would ponder spending over $25 million annually on a backup quarterback until 2022. In 2021, the dead cap to cut him drops from $32.2 million to $10.8 million, and in 2022, it falls to $5.4 million.
The Redskins would probably love to keep Smith around; he’s been an invaluable mentor to Haskins and an inspiration for the entire team. But if he’s set on playing again, as opposed to becoming a front office executive or a coach, and if Haskins develops as planned, he may have to resume his redemption story somewhere else.