NFL Free Agency 2011: 10 Teams Alex Smith Could Start For
Alex Smith's career in San Francisco was a disappointment to say the least.
He was the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, and the next quarterback taken after him, Aaron Rodgers, just led his team to the Super Bowl.
Smith is very talented, athletic and intelligent. But he hasn't managed to become a consistent quarterback despite 50 starts.
Nevertheless, teams will certainly take a look at him in the free agent market. But where is the best fit for him?
No. 10: Buffalo Bills
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Yes, Ryan Fitzpatrick had some nice moments this year for the Bills. And maybe the franchise will pencil him in as the "future."
But the Bills haven't had any quarterback play good, consistent football in back-to-back years since the Jim Kelly era. Fitzpatrick is not guaranteed another nice season no matter how well he scored on the Wonderlic.
Bringing in Smith would be an upgrade over former backup Trent Edwards, and if he has a nice camp, Smith could wind up the starter.
Head coach Chan Gailey worked wonders with Kordell Stewart back in 1997 and Smith has similar pros and cons.
No. 9: Seattle Seahawks
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Certainly this landing spot for Smith would depend on whether or not the Seahawks retain Matt Hasselbeck.
Assuming they don't, are they really interested in throwing all their support behind Charlie Whitehurst, who has two career starts on his resume?
Smith is still young, but he is technically a veteran with plenty of experience.
He was also born in the Seattle area, so those roots could play a factor in his search.
No. 8: Oakland Raiders
Tim Umphrey/Getty Images
Obviously it would be a short trip for Smith, so he should at least consider it.
From the Raiders' perspective, they love trying to resurrect careers of quarterbacks who have failed, or at least struggled, elsewhere. The man selected one spot after Smith, Jason Campbell, is a good example of that.
Smith and Campbell are both athletic and Campbell may be a better passer, but if Campbell couldn't permanently replace Bruce Gradkowski, Smith could definitely make a run at the job in training camp.
No. 7: Miami Dolphins
Nick Laham/Getty Images
No one can be certain what the Dolphins are going to do this offseason regarding Chad Henne.
He very well could remain, retain the starter's job and have a great 2011. But the Dolphins shouldn't take that bet.
Chad Pennington is so injury prone (and soon will turn 35) that he is not a good choice to be the second-in-command, so re-signing him isn't the Dolphins' best move.
With two very different styles, Smith and Henne would have a great battle in training camp.
No. 6: Minnesota Vikings
Tom Dahlin/Getty Images
Since Tarvaris Jackson is also a free agent (and the Vikings haven't yet traded for Vince Young), Minnesota's quarterback situation might be the most wide open in the NFL.
Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar are the quarterbacks under contract for next year.
With Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Visanthe Schiancoe and perhaps Sidney Rice, Smith would walk into a great situation. And from the Vikings' perspective, Smith's mobility would help mask some of the protection problems that plagued Brett Favre in 2010.
No. 5: Washington Redskins
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Don't expect Donovan McNabb to be back in the Capitol City next season, and as maligned as Smith was in San Francisco, his reputation still isn't as shaky as Rex Grossman's.
If there's a coach out there arrogant/confident enough to think he can make Alex Smith a successful, winning quarterback, it's Mike Shanahan.
And if the reason why McNabb was benched in that loss to Detroit was because of his inability to comprehend the Redskins' overly complex two-minute system, Smith and his 3.74 GPA shouldn't have a problem handling that.
No. 4: Carolina Panthers
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
If the Panthers were willing to draft Andrew Luck and chuck Jimmy Clausen to the side, then they can't be too high on last year's second round selection.
Smith isn't necessarily going to thrill the Panthers fans, but he does have skills that would translate well to a terrible offense like Carolina's was in 2010: he can run for his life.
No. 3: Tennessee Titans
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Vince Young is out and Kerry Collins is 38 years old.
Smith could step right in and contend for the job, depending on who the Titans hire as their next coach.
And much like Chan Gailey, Mike Mularkey would be a good coach for Smith to play for. He led Kordell Stewart to a great, MVP-like season back in 2001, and Smith has similar mobility pros and accuracy woes.
And as good as Frank Gore was from 2006-09, Chris Johnson is better, so Smith would have an even lighter burden in the Titans offense than he did in San Francisco.
No. 2: Arizona Cardinals
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Max Hall might become a good quarterback, but not based on what we saw in his rookie season. The same is true about John Skelton.
And do the Cardinals really want to pay Derek Anderson $3.9 million next season?
They can get Smith cheaper and get the same, if not better, production.
Ken Whisenhunt is a great mentor to quarterbacks and has already resurrected one career, Kurt Warner's, before.
And since the Cardinals faced Smith 12 times in the past six seasons, they are very familiar with what he can and can't do.
No. 1: San Francisco 49ers
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Smith was terribly inconsistent in his time in San Francisco, but he wasn't terrible.
He had some good moments and he was plagued by the rotating coordinators/offensive systems.
Jim Harbaugh did wonders with Andrew Luck and, as an NFL quarterback who had a combative relationship with his head coach, Mike Ditka, he can sympathize with Smith's plight in San Francisco.
Because there is a new regime by the Bay, Harbaugh has a grace period in 2011, and that might be enough time to turn Smith into what fans hoped to see back when they drafted him first overall in 2005.
And since Troy Smith is a free agent and David Carr is the only other quarterback under contract for 2011, even if the 49ers draft a quarterback in April, Smith would still likely be the Opening Day starter.