Alex Smith Is All Wrong for the Jacksonville Jaguars

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistJanuary 30, 2013

Smith wants out, but do the Jags want in?
Smith wants out, but do the Jags want in?Christian Petersen/Getty Images

No one in Jacksonville wants to repeat the disaster that was 2012, but some "solutions" can cause more problems than they fix.

With the unpalatable thought of entering another season with Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert as the best options at quarterback, everyone is scrambling for a way to get the Jaguars a viable quarterbacking option.

Because none of the major prospects jump off of the board as worthy of the second overall pick, many have wondered whether Alex Smith is a good fit for Jacksonville.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has reported that Smith will seek his release from the 49ers and become a free agent. If that happens, any team that wants will get a crack at him.

On the surface, Smith makes a lot of sense.

He's still relatively young. At 29 next season, he's right in his prime as a player.

He's far more accomplished than either option already on the roster. He brings experience with a winning franchise. He's been more than respectable the last two years, and was on his way to a Pro Bowl-caliber season when he got hurt and was replaced as the starter in San Fransisco.

Despite the fact that Smith would be an instant upgrade, there are plenty of reasons why the Jaguars would be wise to pass.



Jacksonville's offensive line has been a disaster for the last couple of years, and no one expects it to be a strong suit in 2013.

Smith has consistently had a terrible sack rate throughout his career. In 2011, he led the NFL in sacks taken, and his career sack percentage stands at 8.3.

By comparison, Blaine Gabbert's is 8.2.

In other words, there's no evidence that Smith can solve the top problem plaguing the Jaguars' offense.



Everyone who assumes Smith will be an upgrade is also assuming he'll actually play.

He's only played in 16 games twice in seven-year career. While there were some benchings for performance mixed in, the fact is that Smith has been fragile. He's had several shoulder injuries and missed time in 2012 with a head injury.

A major investment in Smith doesn't necessarily guarantee the home fans won't be subjected to plenty of Gabbert or Henne.



The Jaguars aren't exactly swimming in cap space. They have room to maneuver, but with so many roster holes, blowing well more than half their cap room on Smith wouldn't be advisable.

Smith's last deal came in at three years, $24 million, with roster bonuses totaling $8.25 million. That makes for a yearly cap hit between $9 and 10 million each season.

Any deal on the open market would likely require at least that much investment.

After the rookie pool allotment, the Jaguars will likely have around $15 million to spend.

Tying up two-thirds of that money on just Smith simply doesn't make sense.



Of course, if the Jaguars could be assured they were getting 16 games of a quarterback with a passer rating over 100, the price tag would be no obstacle.

The question is if the Jaguars have the skill players and coaching to match what Smith got in San Fransisco.

Jim Harbaugh is widely considered one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL, and while the Jaguars have some talent at skill positions, the 49ers are loaded with dynamic players.

There are serious concerns about Smith's ability to throw long. He was successful when throwing 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, but such attempts were scarce.

According to Pro Football Focus, Smith went deep just 18 times. While his 10 completions were outstanding, that's a deep ball rate of just 8.3 percent.

In comparison, Gabbert looked long on 10.1 percent of passes and Henne on 10.3 percent.


Smith would be the perfect quarterback for a team that already had the majority of pieces in place and needed a solid quarterback. The Jaguars simply don't fit that mold.

For around $10 million a season, the Jags would be getting a injury-prone quarterback who takes too many sacks and rarely throws throws long.

Smith would be an intriguing fit at the right price point, but that's not realistic. For what it would likely cost to sign him, Smith could become an albatross around the neck of a rebuilding team.

For now, the Jags are better off upgrading the entire roster and developing a young quarterback through the draft.