Alex Smith Reportedly Drawing Trade Interest from Arizona Cardinals

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIFebruary 26, 2013

San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Alex Smith is reportedly being coveted by one of his team's NFC West rivals, the Arizona Cardinals. 

According to Kent Somers of, the team is exploring any and all options to upgrade the quarterback position, including dealing for the 2005 No. 1 overall pick.

The Cardinals are exploring the possibility of trading for 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, according to an NFL source, but no deal is in place.

...The Cardinals are looking into all options to improve production at the position. That includes bringing back Kevin Kolb at a reduced salary. It’s unknown if those discussions have started. They also are likely to draft a quarterback in the first three rounds.

Earlier this week, CBS Sports insider Jason La Canfora intimated that the Niners and a second unidentified team have essentially wrapped up a deal for Smith, which can't be officially accomplished until March 12:

The San Francisco 49ers will trade Alex Smith, and, according to league sources, the deal has effectively already been agreed to. No trades can be official until the league year begins March 12, so nothing can be finalized now, but sources said the two teams involved have the key terms in place at this point, and will finalize it down the road.

Whether the team La Canfora alludes to winds up being the Cardinals remains to be seen, but it would be an interesting development considering Smith would gear up against his former team twice every season. 

Arizona has struggled to find stability at quarterback ever since Kurt Warner retired, and have heavily invested in Kevin Kolb, who is currently trying to restructure his contract with the team. 

After starting out 4-0 under Kolb, the Cardinals collapsed to a 5-11 record in 2012, and Kolb's redemption campaign was cut short due to a gruesome injury to his ribs. A combination of John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer took over from there, and it wasn't pretty.

As Somers notes, Kolb's future with the team is very much in doubt if new GM Steve Keim decides to pull the trigger on a Smith trade. The Cardinals can't afford to keep both under the salary cap, and if the Smith experiment doesn't work out in the desert, the team is once again in serious trouble at the quarterback position.

Head coach Bruce Arians is a strong quarterback mentor, and Tom Moore—the architect of the Indianapolis Colts offense for the prime of Peyton Manning's career—is also in the fold to help out. 

This would be an ideal scenario for Smith after being benched in San Francisco, but it appears that Arizona's search for a long-term answer under center will still be a wide-ranging one despite the fit.

Prior to being unseated by the dynamic Colin Kaepernick, Smith was playing the best football of his career. He finished 2012 with a 70.2 completion percentage, 13 touchdowns, five interceptions and a passer rating of 104.1 in nine-plus starts.

After displaying that kind of efficiency, there's no doubt he's looking for an opportunity to start.