What if there is only one roster spot between Kyle Allen and Alex Smith?

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JP Finlay
·3 min read
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What if there is only one roster spot between Allen and Smith? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Most people around the NFL expect Kyle Allen to re-sign in Washington, especially considering he's an exclusive rights free agent with fairly limited market options. 

Asked about Allen earlier this month, Washington's big boss Ron Rivera said the young quarterback "most certainly is part of what we're doing right now."

Well then, considering Washington already inked QB Taylor Heinicke to a two-year deal this offseason, if Allen is "most certainly" part of the plan, the roster spots at quarterback are already starting to fill up.

Right?

It gets a little bit tricky because Washington still has veteran QB Alex Smith under contract for the 2021 season at a $24 million cost on the salary cap. Those numbers are courtesy of the contract extension former team president Bruce Allen gave Smith when Washington traded for him in 2018. 

Smith's deal, however, holds a potential out this offseason. Washington could save about $14 million on the cap by releasing the veteran while taking a $10 million dead cap hit. 

Asked about Smith, Rivera wasn't nearly as concrete looking toward the future, "We'll see how it goes. But right now, we're still in a situation where we are looking at all of our options."

Two very important things to point out when discussing Smith:

  1. His comeback story is incredible. He deserves to be celebrated at every turn for the hard work and perseverance he put in to make it all the way back to NFL starter after suffering a gruesome broken leg back in 2018. Truly incredible. His 2020 Comeback Player of the Year award was not only deserved, but the NFL should take a serious look at naming the trophy after him. 

  2. Smith's comeback in 2020 also revealed a player that Washington can't pay $24 million this fall. He played well when healthy, but a late season bone bruise/calf strain served as a reality check about relying on a 37-year-old with a surgically repaired leg. 

The question facing the Washington brass becomes would the team rather have Allen - likely at about $1 million for the season - or bring back Smith at a dramatically reduced cost. Much of that answer could depend on Smith, who likely wants to return to football but might not be interested in a pay cut in Washington. 

Consider that it seems highly likely Washington adds another quarterback beyond Allen and Smith, whether that's in the draft, free agency or in a trade, and it's highly possible the Burgundy and Gold coaches and front office are facing a decision on Allen or Smith's future with the team. 

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Washington's general manager Martin Mayhew said he was "very impressed" by Smith's 5-1 record last season as starter, but asked if there was a commitment to the veteran QB, none of the organization's leaders could take a firm stance.

The Football Team won't carry four QBs going to training camp, and that's not even including practice squader Steven Montez. 

Smith deserves better than being yanked around, especially with a possible reunion in Jacksonville with his college coach Urban Meyer and the opportunity to help future No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence on the table. Few in NFL history might be better suited for that role. 

It seems likely Washington ends up with Heinicke, Allen and another passer, via the draft, free agency or a trade. 

If Allen is "most certainly" in the plans and things are in "we'll see" mode with Smith, it almost seems like that the question has been answered.