Alex Smith Retires from NFL After 16-Year Career with 49ers, Chiefs, WFT

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2021

Washington Football Team's Alex Smith plays during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

Veteran quarterback Alex Smith announced Monday he is retiring from the NFL.


What an awesome video from Alex. Congrats on an awesome career and one of the best comeback stories ever. https://t.co/VxJtPklVSi

"Even though I've got plenty of snaps left in me, after 16 years of giving this game everything I've got, I can't wait to see what else is possible," Smith said in an Instagram video. "But first, I'm going to take a little time to enjoy a few of those walks with my wife, and my kids have no idea what's coming for them in the backyard."

Per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, multiple teams hoped to sign Smith this offseason: 

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Multiple teams wanted to sign Alex Smith, who made the decision a couple weeks ago to walk away. One of the greatest comeback stories in NFL history ends on Smith's terms. https://t.co/P2M4vAeelT

He'll probably also receive plenty of interest around the NFL as a coach if he decides to go that route:

Adam Teicher @adamteicher

Andy Reid congratulated Alex Smith on a great career. Said he texted him recently and told Smith if he wanted to get into coaching that "I get first dibs'' on him.

Smith, 36, was the No. 1 overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2005 NFL draft. He spent eight seasons with the Niners but lost his starting role after the emergence of Colin Kaepernick, who stepped in for an injured Smith in 2012 and led the team to the Super Bowl.

Ahead of the 2013 season, the 49ers traded Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he thrived under Andy Reid, playing in three Pro Bowls (2013, 2016, 2017). His best season came in 2017 when he set career highs in passing yards (4,042) and touchdown passes (26) while completing 67.5 percent of his passes and throwing five interceptions. 

But the Chiefs had drafted Patrick Mahomes in the first round earlier that year and wanted to turn the starting gig over to him in 2018, a move that looks wise in hindsight. They traded Smith to the Washington Football Team, where he spent the final three years of his NFL career. 

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Since Alex Smith entered the NFL in 2005, he is 1 of 3 QBs to win 30+ games for multiple teams, along with Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer (all 3 were former No. 1 overall picks). Smith is the only QB since the 1970 merger to win 40+ games in the AFC and NFC (h/t @EliasSports). https://t.co/YpY1SJbupc

He suffered a spiral fracture in his leg and a broken fibula in 2018, an injury so serious that it nearly cost him his leg after it became infected post-surgery. In total, he had 17 surgeries, and he missed the 2019 season. 

His career could have ended there, but Smith fought to get back on the football field and made his return in 2020, a remarkable recovery and a great moment from that season.

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

An inspiration to all 🙌 Never forget when Alex Smith took the field for the first time after his injury. (via @WashingtonNFL) https://t.co/WL4WQYApqU

Louis Riddick @LRiddickESPN

I am drawn to lessons in resilience, fortitude, uncommon commitment and sacrifice. Never can get enough of them. Learn from all of them. Inspired by every one of them. That is Alex Smith to me and for me.

Matt Barrows @mattbarrows

I always thought Alex Smith was the Andy Dufresne of NFL QBs: He dealt with years of crap, persevered, never lost his dignity and now has come out clean on the other side. Congratulations, Alex Smith & family, on a truly remarkable career. https://t.co/tA8gY9dzJM

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Alex Smith is a true inspiration. Here’s hoping he gets into coaching and molds future quarterbacks

He threw for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions in eight games, leading Washington to a 5-1 record in his six starts. He also won the Comeback Player of the Year Award.

He ends his career with 35,650 passing yards, 199 touchdowns and 109 interceptions. 


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