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Alex Smith: 7 NFL Teams That He Could Start for Next Season

Christopher OlmsteadSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 5, 2013

Alex Smith: 7 NFL Teams That He Could Start for Next Season

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    In 2011, Alex Smith led the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC championship game, where they lost to the New York Giants.

    In 2012, Smith and the 49ers began the season with a record of 6-2. In the next game, Smith suffered an injury, and he would not start another game that season.

    At the time Smith was benched, he was third in the NFL in passer rating (104.1) and led the league in completion percentage (70 percent).

    Smith was 19-5-1 as a starter under second year head coach Jim Harbaugh.

    As of the writing of this article, Smith is still under contract with the 49ers. It does not seem plausible for the 49ers to keep him and Colin Kaepernick on their roster moving forward. It also makes sense for Smith to want to start for a team next season.

    This is a list of teams in the NFL that Smith could start for week one in September.

7. Tennessee Titans

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    The Titans currently have Jack Locker and Matt Hasselbeck as their options at quarterback.

    Last season the two combined to pass for 3,543 yards, with 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

    Jake Locker is the future of this franchise, being tabbed the starter this past season. Hasselbeck, who started in 2011, filled in for five games this year while Locker was out with an injury.

    Locker showed glimpses that  might have Titans fans feeling optimistic heading into next season. Tennessee might be the least likely fit on this list for Smith.

    The real question is how confident are the Titans in Locker?

    If Smith were to join the Titans tomorrow, he would without question be in the competition to start. If this scenario were to play out, and I ran the Titans, he would win that competition.

    The third horse in this race, one who shouldn't be forgotten, is Hasselbeck. In 2011, Hasselbeck started 13 games and helped guide the Titans to a 9-7 record.

    There are some really good pieces on this team.  A smart quarterback who can protect the ball would go a long way.

    I don't think Smith would be handed the job from day one in Tennessee. But come week one, Smith would be the starting quarterback, having earned the job.

6. New York Jets

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    Which quarterback is even going to be on the Jets roster come next season?

    Mark Sanchez is a mess, Tim Tebow seems to be on his way out, and nobody was really impressed with what Greg McElroy had to offer.

    So why not just bring in Alex Smith?

    The first issue, and really the only issue with Smith and the Jets, is Sanchez. The ridiculous contract that the Jets gave to Sanchez might end up keeping him in New York.

    If this is the case, are the Jets really going to pay that much money to a backup quarterback?

    If Smith goes to New York, he should start over every quarterback presently on that team's roster.

    However, the only way that I see Smith going to New York would be if all of its present quarterbacks were not longer on the roster.

    If the Jets decide to clear out their quarterback cupboard, then Smith should be the first piece to restock it.

5. Cleveland Browns

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    Some might question why the Browns would be on this list. After all, they did just draft a quarterback in the first round less than a year ago.

    Well, the Browns are under new ownership now, and they might not have the same vision as the group that selected Brandon Weeden.

    There is also the fact that Weeden didn't exactly light up the world in Cleveland this past season. His 3,385 yards passing, 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions paled in comparison to the other rookies taken in the draft.

    This is not to say that Weeden cannot be groomed into an effective starter, but there is work to be done.

    It all comes down to how Browns' new owners view Weeden. If they were to decide to go in a different direction, Alex Smith might just be their guy.

    Smith deserves the chance to start over Weeden, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he is going to be given that chance or welcomed to Cleveland.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Blaine Gabbert was supposed to be the answer in Jacksonville.

    It might be time for Jacksonville to rethink this decision.

    In two seasons with the Jaguars, Gabbert has started 25 games, missing seven due to injury. In those 25 games, Gabbert has completed only 53 percent of his passes.

    This past season Chad Henne was brought in as insurance. In Henne's seven games this season, he managed to complete 53 percent of his passes.

    For his career, Alex Smith has completed just under 60 percent of his passes. Smith's accuracy and skill set alone would be a vast improvement over what the Jaguars currently have.

    The Jaguars do not have any huge money tied into either Henne or Gabbert, another reason why adding Smith seems like a good move.

    If the Jaguars were to add Smith to their roster, he would be given the keys to the car from day one.

3. Buffalo Bills

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    Entering Week 7 of the 2011 season, the Buffalo Bills were 4-2.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick was a dark horse in early MVP talks with a 95.3 rating, a 66.6 percent completion rating, 1,477 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

    During this week the Bills decided to extend his contract.

    Fitzpatrick finished that season with with a 79.1 rating, 24 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. The Bills went 2-8 over that stretch, to finish the season 6-10.

    This past season Fitzpatrick improved his numbers while once again leading the Bills to a record of 6-10.

    Buffalo is desperate for a change. The franchise is desperate for someone whom the fans can rally around.

    That someone could very well be Alex Smith.

    It's safe to say that the Fitzpatrick experiment in Buffalo is over. Regardless of the money owed to him, I just don't see any way that he is the starter next season.

    Bringing in Smith would be the first step to getting this franchise back on track. Smith may not be a Brady or Manning type player, but he does have the talent to improve a team, especially this team.

    Or Buffalo could continue with Fitzpatrick and once again miss the playoffs.

2. Arizona Cardinals

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    Do you think that you can play quarterback in the NFL?

    If so, go and try out for the Arizona Cardinals—they need all of the help that they can get.

    This past season four different Cardinal quarterbacks (Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer) combined to complete 55 percent of their passes while throwing 11 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

    It's a very real possibility that new head coach Bruce Arians will get rid of every single one of them.

    Adding Alex Smith to this team would be an immediate improvement.

    It would also be an added perk for Smith to have the chance to work with Arians. Just look what he did with Andrew Luck.

    The Cardinals will definitely be shopping for some quarterbacks this offseason. If they're wise, they would look in Smith's direction. 

1. Kansas City Chiefs

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    If your tryout with the Cardinals doesn't go well, you might as well head over to Kansas City.

    The Kansas City Chiefs had six Pro Bowl selections this past season. The Chiefs also rocked a 2-14 record.

    If nothing else, this shows that there are some talented players on this team. Unfortunately, none of those players play the position of quarterback.

    Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn split time under center for the Chiefs. Combined, they amassed a 63.8 quarterback rating while passing for eight touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

    This just might be the best situation for Alex Smith.

    This team is more than a quarterback away from being a contender, but quarterback is without question one of the big pieces missing.

    Smith would walk into this franchise and instantly become its starting quarterback.

    Depending on the pieces they put around him, it could be the start of something for the Chiefs.

Conclusion:

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    Alex Smith won't garner the same attention this offseason (if he is released)  that Peyton Manning did.

    He isn't that kind of player.

    Smith is the type of player who, with the right coaches and the right pieces, could elevate a team to the next level.

    The NFL all but wrote Smith off after the 2010 season. Two seasons under a coach like Harbaugh and some consistency in the offensive scheme, and Smith has flourished.

    If Smith moves to a new team next season, will he take it to a Super Bow?

    Most likely not.

    But wherever Smith lands, he will help move that team in the right direction.

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