Chris Cooley says Alex Smith's story 'overshadows what he actually is' as a QB

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Julius Long
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Cooley: Smith's story overshadows what he actually is as a QB originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Even with the news that the Washington Football Team has signed Taylor Heinicke to a two-year contract, the team's quarterback situation remains shrouded in uncertainty

But when asked on The Kevin Sheehan Show about his reaction to Heinicke's signing, former Washington tight end Chris Cooley suggested that it, at the very least, brought some clarity regarding Alex Smith's future with the organization.

“The story overshadows what he actually is as a quarterback at this point," Cooley said. “You can’t pay somebody $24 million at his level right now. That’s just not good business, and even Alex would understand that situation.”

Despite the Comeback Player of the Year underscoring his improbable return to the field by leading the Burgundy and Gold to five of their seven wins last season, Cooley sees a lack of pragmatism in bringing the 36-year-old back at such a high price, especially after his previously injured leg failed to hold up through his eight appearances.

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In a convoluted way, the decision to bring back Taylor Heinicke, not solely, but largely based on outstanding performances in just a game and a quarter last season says a fair amount about how much of a gamble Ron Rivera, Martin Mayhew, and Marty Hurney perceive Alex Smith to be going forward.

"You can’t count on him to start a full season,” Cooley said, adding that he thinks it's almost certain that Kyle Allen remains in Washington this year. “Anything can happen to that leg at any point. It can just wear down through eight games like probably it did this year."

Though absorbing that hit to the salary cap would probably be detrimental to the team's future success, having the incumbent quarterback trio return with a restructured contract for Smith is not a foregone conclusion. That's especially true considering the particularly hectic quarterback market this offseason.

“You might go to the store and it’s out of stock," Cooley laughed. "Hopefully they’re restocking in 2022, but if you’re going into the season with Heinicke and Kyle Allen and Alex Smith, then you better be really serious about either drafting someone that you believe in or that you like or that you want to develop, or acquiring draft capital to attempt to make a move next year.”

Regardless of whether or not Washington finds their guy in free agency or in the 2021 NFL Draft, or at all, there's a real possibility that Heinicke's extension signals the conclusion of Alex Smith's tenure under center in Washington.