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The Best Landing Spots for Alex Smith

John RozumCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2013

The Best Landing Spots for Alex Smith

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    The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly interested in trading quarterback Alex Smith.

    According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com:

    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.

    There's one other factor to consider: If San Francisco deals Smith instead of cutting him, it would save the $1 million or $2 million roster bonus it would have to pay if he is released.

    This is unsurprising because Smith possesses starting talent for a team in pro football and his contract puts San Francisco in this bind.

    Not to mention the quick impact of Colin Kaepernick emphatically set the 49ers' future under center.

    As for Smith, he'll only be 29 years old when the 2013 NFL season kicks off. So, the following teams won't be taking a large investment risk regarding long-term. Quarterbacks are also capable of lasting near age 40.

Arizona Cardinals

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    With a true No. 1 receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, the Arizona Cardinals offer Alex Smith a deep threat.

    Plus, Kurt Warner played with Fitzgerald for five seasons and knows the receiver's ability quite well. Include Smith's ability and this is not a bad get for Arizona.

    During an interview on Arizona Sports 620, via Daria Del Colliano of ArizonaSports.com, Kurt Warner weighed in on Alex Smith to the Cardinals:

    "First of all, I think San Francisco as a gesture to him is going to let him go. So I don't think it's going to cost that much," Warner said. "I think a three or a four [draft pick] would be my guess on what you had to give up to get him. So I don't think the cost is too high for a guy that can win at this level and shows what he brings to the table."

    The Cardinals gave up 58 sacks throughout 2012 and Smith's mobility would reduce some of that. Include Arizona holding the No. 7 overall selection and landing a top offensive lineman adds to that fix.

    The team ranked No. 28 in passing offense and the quarterbacks had a mere 55.4 completion percentage. With Fitzgerald on one side, Michael Floyd opposite and Andre Roberts, Arizona provides solid receiving corps.

    Factor in new head coach Bruce Arians and this offense will greatly improve in 2013.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Kansas City Chiefs are great for Alex Smith because of Jamaal Charles.

    Every quarterback needs a reliable ground game to help set up the pass, and K.C. does slam well in the trenches.

    There's also new head coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs' dire need for a quarterback.

    According to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle:

    ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer said new Kansas City coach Andy Reid, then with the Eagles, expressed interest in acquiring Smith when he was a free agent after the 2011 season. According to Dilfer, Reid “really likes Alex.”

    “There was a courtship last year, to a certain degree,” Dilfer said.

    The AFC West is the best division for Smith to end up in because it's weak. Outside of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, the Chargers and Raiders are winnable games.

    Along with Charles, Smith will also get decent talent in receiver Dwayne Bowe—if he remains—the versatile Dexter McCluster and tight end Tony Moeaki. Once again, Smith's mobility also impacts any pass-protection breakdowns or play-calls such as sprint-outs, waggles and bootlegs.

    K.C. needs a strong decision-maker that moves the rock and minimizes turnovers. Smith is that guy.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    This may not appear like a fit at first glance, but Alex Smith suits Chip Kelly well in Philadelphia.

    For one, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

    As expected, the Eagles will take advantage of a provision in Michael Vick's contract and won't release the quarterback before a Wednesday deadline guarantees him $3 million, sources close to the situation said.

    The clause permits the Eagles to keep Vick on the roster until the start of free agency on March 12 without having to pay the guaranteed figure as long as another team picks him up or pays him more than $3 million.

    The Eagles are not expected to bring Vick back at the $15.5 million salary in his contract. It is unclear if either side would be willing to renegotiate.

    Combine Vick's contract situation with Smith's proven success under Jim Harbaugh and it shows he can adapt to any coach.

    After all, Harbaugh was Smith's third head coach and Kelly runs a quick offense. We've seen Smith's scrambling ability and he stepped up big during the 2011-12 postseason.

    It's a move across the country and into a division that features sound pass-rushers, which Smith's mobility benefits from Philadelphia's unreliable offensive line in 2012. And his pre-snap approach is better than given credit to adjust in-game.

    He'll also be a great complement to the running back tandem of LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. The Eagles have the arsenal for Smith to be successful and Kelly's philosophy matches nicely.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Much like Kansas City, the Jacksonville Jaguars present a solid running back for Alex Smith.

    Maurice Jones-Drew is among the best and most complete in the game, and his overall skill set complements the mobile quarterback.

    Plus, in an article by Matthew Barrows of the Sacramento Bee in mid January, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman has a connection to Jacksonville:

    Roman was a defensive lineman for the [John Carroll] Blue Streaks in the early 1990s, playing on teams that included [David] Caldwell [Jacksonville's general manager]. Caldwell and Roman, in fact, were roommates.

    The bottom line for Smith, however, will be opportunity. And 2-14 Jacksonville, where starter Blaine Gabbert averaged a league-low 5.98 yards per pass attempt this season, appears to be one of the better spots to be a starter.

    Conducting the offense in Jacksonville means no expectations and no pressure.

    It's a small market that is coming off a dismal campaign and facing a rough quarterback situation. Still, the Jaguars field a young and promising receiving corps with Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts and Laurent Robinson.

    And don't forget about underrated tight end Marcedes Lewis.

    Jacksonville's passing offense, however, lacked in 2012 because of inconsistent quarterback play. Smith on the other hand, has embodied much more consistency of recent and knows how to spread a defense, provided running back Maurice Jones-Drew remains durable and the Jaguars have a solid attack.

Minnesota Vikings

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    The Minnesota Vikings are an intriguing team, simply because of already having Christian Ponder.

    At the same time, Smith is more established and would significantly benefit from Adrian Peterson.

    NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton of the Pioneer Press, though, believes Smith will cost too much:

    I know a lot of people are interested in the possibility of Alex Smith now that it appears San Francisco will make him available. But I don't believe he's the answer for the Vikings. San Francisco will not just give him away; the 49ers will ask for a sizable return.

    Even if Smith might be a short-term upgrade over Ponder at quarterback, it would not be worth the young talent and draft picks required to get him. It's time to think about finding your franchise QB for the long term, not a quick fix.

    Regardless of what San Francisco asks for dealing Smith, he's a better fit than Tarkenton indicates.

    The 2013 NFL draft is drastically weaker at the quarterback position than in 2012. Minnesota's best bet for a new starter next season is through free agency or trade.

    Smith isn't old either, so he'll be around longer than only a few seasons. By comparison to Ponder, he doesn't turn the rock over nearly as much and utilizes the weapons around him better.

    After Peterson, Minnesota's talent is impressive with tight end Kyle Rudolph and the dynamic Percy Harvin. Select a top receiver prospect in the 2013 draft and the Vikings possess a complete offense.

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