ESPN.com's Adam Schefter reports:
The San Francisco 49ers will attempt to trade quarterback Alex Smith this offseason, according to league sources, and some believe they will be able to do it because there is not a great supply of available quarterbacks and there is a demand for Smith.
Many casual fans will scoff at the notion that Smith is a viable starter, given his struggles early in his career. After all, until Jim Harbaugh showed up in 2011, Smith had a record of 19-31, completed just 57 percent of his passes and threw 51 touchdowns (against 53 interceptions).
But, if his first overall draft selection wasn't enough of a reminder, Smith always had the tools to succeed. He was simply beset by numerous difficulties, including poor coaching (minus his 2006 season with Norv Turner), coaching turnover, poor protection and a lack of talent at the wide receiver position.
Smith didn't lose his job to Colin Kaepernick because he played poorly, either. He played as well as any quarterback in the NFL leading up to the concussion that ultimately sealed his fate this past season.
Given another chance to start for a team that possesses a strong rushing attack and an offensive coordinator that understands how to get the most out of Smith's limits as a passer, he'll shine in 2013 and beyond.
So which teams might be willing to make a deal for Smith's services?
Note: As a benchmark to see how much Smith may be worth, remember that the Denver Broncos got the New York Jets to part with a fourth-round and sixth-round pick for Tim Tebow and a seventh-round pick (h/t ESPN.com news services).
Thus, it seems likely that Smith would be worth a third-round pick and at the least an early fourth-round pick.
Kevin Kolb can't seem to stay healthy, and neither John Skelton nor Ryan Lindley is good enough to play at a consistently high level in the NFL.
Bruce Arians needs to either draft a quarterback in the first couple of rounds in April (not exactly a promising venture, given the poor depth at QB in this year's draft class) or bring in a veteran to compete with Kolb.
That said, it might be better to just cut Kolb, who is due to receive $9 million as a base salary in 2013 and a $2 million bonus if he's still on the roster in March (h/t ArizonaCardinals.com).
Trading for Smith would allow the Cardinals to enter next season with an unquestioned starter in place, allowing the team to focus on its many other needs during the draft.
A trade between two NFC West rivals might not seem likely, but if the Cardinals were willing to part with their third-round pick (No. 69 overall), 49ers general manager Trent Baalke might not be able to turn it down.
Chip Kelly needs an accurate, durable quarterback who can move in the pocket and roll out in either direction to run his offense.
Alex Smith possesses all those traits, and while he's been overshadowed by Colin Kaepernick this year, let's not forget that he ran for over 1,000 yards and rushed for 15 touchdowns during his time under Urban Meyer at Utah.
Heck, the New Orleans Saints could tell you that Smith is deceptively athletic. He torched the Saints defense on a 28-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter during the two teams' NFC divisional round matchup in 2011.
Michael Vick won't likely be wearing a Philadelphia Eagles uniform in 2013 thanks to his $16.9 million cap hit, and while Kelly may be high on Nick Foles, he'd be silly to head into next season with a second-year quarterback and no backup plan.
The Eagles have one extra seventh-round pick in April, holding eight total picks (not counting any compensatory picks that may be coming).
If Luke Joeckel were to fall to No. 4 overall, Philadelphia would be wise to take him, draft a safety in Round 2 (should one of value be there for the taking) and then trade their pick in Round 3 to the 49ers for Smith and one of the 49ers' seventh-round picks.
The Jacksonville Jaguars traded their 2011 second-round pick to the Washington Redskins to move up six spots and select Blaine Gabbert two years ago, and it's not likely the franchise is willing to give up on him just yet and concede he is a bust.
Chad Henne isn't any better than Gabbert, however, and if any quarterback can relate to Gabbert and show him how to become a good pro quarterback, it's Alex Smith.
Smith and Gabbert share remarkably similar physical traits. Gabbert may have a bit of a stronger arm, but both come from a spread offense in college where they excelled with their athleticism and prowess on timing patterns.
Both were thrown into the fire in the NFL without the benefit of a competent offensive line and with a lack of talent at the wide receiver position.
The Jaguars look to be improving in both those areas, but Gabbert isn't ready to be a starting quarterback at this time. Sitting behind Smith for a year or two would give him the necessary time to develop into a capable pro.
Jacksonville has one pick per round this April—all of which are either the first or second pick of the round. A trade with the 49ers for Smith might look like this: Henne and Jacksonville's fifth-round pick for Smith.
This trade would benefit the 49ers, too, since Henne is a viable backup, and his $4.15 million cap hit is roughly half what San Francisco would pay Smith in 2013.
Fun fact: Alex Smith is a year younger than Brandon Weeden, yet he has six more years of NFL experience.
There's no doubt that Smith is well beyond Weeden at this point in both their careers. He is a proven veteran who has seen everything the NFL has to offer, while Weeden is still just as raw as Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins.
Norv Turner—Cleveland's new offensive coordinator hiring—and Smith have worked well together before, and Smith was recently extremely complimentary of Turner. Via Mary Kay Cabot of the Clevland Plain Dealer, Smith said:
Loved my time with Norv...[It was] a very, very friendly QB system. For [Cleveland], it's going to be a terminology change going from a West Coast system to the digits, but very, very QB friendly, big-play potential for the offense with a lot of chunk plays.
He's a great play caller. I just remember he had a great feel for the game on gameday and a great feel for what the defense was doing.
Cleveland features a promising young running back in Trent Richardson, a really good offensive line with Joe Thomas as its anchor, and some talented young receivers.
Combined with the Turner factor, this may well be the best situation of any for Smith to fall into after his time with San Francisco, and Cleveland would be a dangerous team in the AFC with Smith behind center.
Cleveland enters the draft without a second-round pick, though, so offering a third-round selection for Smith may be tough to swallow.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, however, and if the Browns land one of the best pass-rushers in this year's draft class with their first-round pick, they might be willing to make the deal.
Andy Reid needs a quarterback in the worst way, and it would seem a foolish choice to reach for one with the team's No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft.
From Smith's perspective, Kansas City may be one of the most attractive landing spots, given the team's potentially dominant running game, its potentially dominant defense, and its talent at the skill positions.
From Kansas City's perspective, Smith fits like a glove. Reid's West Coast offense is one Smith is at least vaguely familiar with, given his time with Norv Turner in 2006, and the 49ers have been running a modified version the past two seasons under Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh.
Furthermore, as Adam Schefter noted in his report, "Reid has expressed an interest in Smith in the past," which lends credence to the notion he might be interested in him again for KC.
The Chiefs could potentially deal their third-round pick (No. 63 overall) for Smith and one of San Francisco's seventh-round picks.
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