Now that the San Francisco 49ers have found their guy in Colin Kaepernick, it has become clearer than ever that Alex Smith is on his way out of San Francisco. While the 49ers would surely like to keep Smith around as a backup, he is set to make nearly $8 million next year, a hefty price for a guy on the bench.
For the price they want, it may be hard for San Fran to trade Smith, and if that’s the case, then he will have to be released.
After a terrible start to his career, Smith has since proven that he can be effective in the right system and is definitely looking to be a starter wherever he goes. With plenty of teams looking for a quarterback and a weak draft class, Smith will certainly find work sooner or later.
But where? Could a reunion with his old offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, be the best situation for him? Or maybe a well-built team similar to the 49ers where he wouldn’t have to be depended upon too much?
Only time will tell, but let’s take a look at the best landing spots for Smith next year.
Alex Smith and Norv Turner talk things over during practice (2006)
Odds: 15 percent chance
This is probably the least likely of landing spots for Smith. While Smith did well under Norv Turner during his first few years in San Francisco, it doesn’t look like a reunion will happen anytime soon.
Although Smith would be a nice fit in Cleveland, I don’t believe Cleveland would be a nice fit for Smith. While the Browns have recently stated that they will have an open competition at quarterback, this is not the best place for Smith if he wants to win a championship.
The Browns are still rebuilding right now, and Smith has much better options elsewhere. If Cleveland’s new front office can somehow coax him into signing with them, then I wouldn’t consider it a mistake by Smith.
Although Brandon Weeden will not relinquish his starting job easily, the younger Smith would more than likely overtake Weeden for his starting spot.
Alex Smith and Christian Ponder congratulate eachother on a good game.
Odds: 20 percent chance
While former first-round draft pick Christian Ponder has shown flashes of what he can do in this league, he still is not the answer for the Vikings right now.
Despite shoddy, inconsistent quarterback play, Minnesota was still able to make the playoffs behind the league’s MVP, Adrian Peterson. If the Vikings can make it to the playoffs with Ponder as the starter, imagine what they could do with Smith, an obvious upgrade.
The Vikings have a solid defense and receiving corps, along with the best running back in the league. Throw in a guy like Smith and you got yourself a pretty good-looking squad.
This move would also make sense for the Vikings, as they could afford to bench Ponder for a season considering he is only halfway through his four-year, $10.2 million contract.
If the Vikings are able to obtain Smith, then they could very well be contending with Green Bay for the NFC North crown next season.
Alex Smith torches the Cardinals defense in a key divisional matchup.
Odds: 25 percent chance
This is definitely one of the more attractive spots for Smith.
Arizona’s quarterback situation is an abomination. Kevin Kolb, Jon Skelton, and Ryan Lindley all made Brian Hoyer look like a Pro Bowler in comparison. While Kolb has sporadically shown signs of starting ability, it is evident he is not the answer and was a big mistake by the Cards’ front office.
With new head coach Bruce Arians in town, Smith might be more inclined to go to a team like the Cardinals. He would also be obtaining one of the league’s best defensive teams and an all-pro wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald.
On top of all that, he would be playing his soon-to-be former team twice a year, an opportunity I’m sure he’d like to have.
After an atrocious 5-11 season, the only way is up for Arizona, and if they bring in Smith, then they will definitely be on the right path to success.
Alex Smith eludes KC's defenders
Odds: 40 percent chance
Right now, I’d say the Chiefs are the front-runner to obtain Smith’s services. This is also the smartest move for both sides.
By bringing in Smith, newly appointed head coach Andy Reid would have an experienced guy to run his system and be given time to groom whichever quarterback they draft this coming April.
With many question marks in this year’s draft, taking a quarterback with the first overall pick could be extremely dangerous. Yet with Smith on the team, it would allow whoever the Chiefs choose to adjust to the NFL and learn the new system without having to perform right away.
It is also a smart move for Smith, as he would likely be the unquestioned starter and be surrounded with talent on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs have several pro bowlers, a defense filled to the brim with talent and an all-pro running back in Jamaal Charles.
Add in Smith, and that sounds like a scary team to me.
Smith is familiar with the west coast offense and would thrive under Reid and the Chiefs’ new regime.
Sounds like a match made in football heaven.