Alex Smith (QB)

NFC Notes: Zeke, Buckner, A. Smith

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is definitely considering a holdout, though Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reports that Elliott has not yet made up his mind one way or another. However, Robinson acknowledged earlier today (via Twitter) that the situation could go sideways fast. He writes that the club has discussed an extension for Elliott for a month or so, but those talks have not progressed in any meaningful way, so Elliott is now exploring his options.

Critically, Robinson notes that Elliott must report to training camp by August 6 in order to get a fourth accrued season towards free agency and preserve his right to hold out next summer if he so chooses. That reality gives Dallas a little more leverage, but Robinson also reports that the two sides are still working towards an agreement and that Elliott’s toying with the idea of a holdout has not yet strained the relationship between player and team.

Elliott and his camp will take this week to assess his options. If Elliott agrees to report on time, perhaps the team will assure him that it will prioritize an extension for him before the regular season. To date, a new deal for Elliott has not been on the top of Dallas’ to-do list.

We rounded up some NFC notes earlier today, and now we’ll dive into more items from the National Football Conference:

  • Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com says that Grady Jarrett‘s 2019 salary cap number will shrink to $11MM as a result of the extension he signed today. That will give the Falcons just shy of $11MM in cap space, which will help them sign Deion Jones to a new deal (Jones’ $1.45MM 2019 cap number will almost certainly go up if and when the club inks him to an extension of his own).
  • The last we heard, the 49ers and DeForest Buckner had not made much progress in extension talks, and Joel Corry of CBS Sports says that the contract San Francisco gave to Dee Ford after acquiring him via trade could be complicating Buckner negotiations (Twitter link). The club is set on using a team-friendly structure just like it always does — and just as it did with Ford — and it will not change its M.O. for Buckner, which is surely a sticking point for 2016’s No. 7 overall pick.
  • Kevin Patra of NFL.com reports that Redskins QB Alex Smith was able to shed the external fixator that had been keeping his leg in place since the horrific injury he suffered last year, an injury that has put his playing career in serious jeopardy. But Smith is committed to returning to the field, and this is a big step in his recovery.
  • Seahawks RB C.J. Prosise may be a release candidate, but Seattle head coach Pete Carroll says the oft-injured tailback is very much in the mix for a roster spot. Carroll said, per John Boyle of Seahawks.com, “[Prosise] has been fit throughout, he’s really strong, worked out really hard in the offseason to get his strength right, and his weight is up, but he’s fit and has really been able to do a little bit of everything. So to add him into the competition is really nice. So we’re fired up about C.J. being back.”

Alex Smith Interested In Playing Again

The Redskins have essentially ruled out Alex Smith for the 2019 season. He has undergone several surgeries to repair his gruesome leg injury and remains without a timetable to return to practice.

But the 35-year-old quarterback has not announced intentions to retire yet. Smith wants to give what will be a daunting comeback a go but indicated he his a long ways off.

That’s the plan,” Smith said, during an interview with Fox5DC’s Angie Goff (video link), of making a comeback. “I got to conquer some more steps before I get there. Learn to run again. But yeah, I’m already throwing. Throwing’s not a problem. I feel like I can throw, but dropping, moving around, change of direction … the stronger I get every week, the more I do, the more hopeful I am that (coming back) is a real possibility.”

Infections and around a half-dozen procedures have Smith wearing an external fixator on his injured leg. But Smith said he is walking now and has been able to play golf. This comes after he was confined to a wheelchair for four months post-surgeries. He has resumed throwing passes at the Redskins facility, though those activities have obviously come with considerable movement restrictions.

While Smith is still tethered to the four-year, $94MM extension he signed last year, one that has him taking up $20.4MM of Washington’s 2019 cap, the Redskins drafted Dwayne Haskins in the first round and traded for Case Keenum. Smith is signed through 2022.

Next season, Smith’s cap number will rise to $21.4MM. Both Keenum and Colt McCoy will be free agents, so the Redskins will have some decisions to make regarding who will join Haskins in their 2020 quarterback room. NBC Sports Washington’s J.P. Finlay does not see Smith and Haskins coexisting as healthy quarterback options. It would be a tough fit, salary-wise, but the Redskins will have a significant amount of money committed to Smith whether he’s on the team or not. It would cost them more than $32MM in dead money to release Smith next year.

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Redskins Expect Alex Smith To Miss The Entire 2019 Season

The Redskins are expecting Alex Smith to miss the entire 2019 season with his leg injury, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Washington’s team president Bruce Allen recently gave an update on Smith’s status to the media, and he didn’t sound overly positive, so this isn’t shocking news.

Allen said the team is going to explore all options with respect to potential new quarterbacks, and also added that the team still likes Colt McCoy. McCoy was initially inserted as the starter when Smith got hurt, but soon went down with a season-ending leg injury of his own. Smith recently made his first public appearance since the gruesome injury, and had a bulky apparatus on his leg.

Soon after Smith got hurt in a Week 11 game against the Texans, news came out that he was battling an infection in his leg. The updates only got worse from there, and we heard last month that he was unlikely to be ready for Week 1 of 2019. With the news that the team is expecting him to miss the entire season, it’s fair to wonder if Smith will ever be able to return, as there has been consistent concern since the injury that it could be career-threatening.

Thanks to the four-year contract extension he signed in 2018 shortly after he was acquired from the Chiefs, Smith is under contract with the Redskins through the 2022 season. The 34-year-old is set to carry a $20.4MM cap number in 2019. The Redskins pick 15th in this Aprils’ draft, and could be a candidate to draft a signal caller. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins is currently projected to be off the board by then, but Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Missouri’s Drew Lock could be potential targets at 15.

 

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Injury Updates: Redskins, Smith, Ravens, Jefferson, Texans, Reid

Alex Smith to recover from the devastating leg injury he suffered midway through the 2018 season, and Redskins team president Bruce Allen recently provided an update, per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Allen didn’t sound overly confident in Smith’s prospects of being ready for 2019, saying “If anyone can come back, it’s Alex”, but finishing with a “we’ll see.” He also left the door open to drafting a quarterback this April, and sounded as if the team is preparing for being without Smith.

He seemed open to the possibility of Colt McCoy starting, saying “we like Colt a lot.” McCoy initially filled in for Smith but soon went down with his own season ending leg injury. He was then replaced by Josh Johnson who looked a lot better than expected, but Allen didn’t mention Johnson at all in his comments. Smith was recently seen out in public for the first time since his injury, wearing a bulky apparatus on his injured leg.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • Recently extended Ravens coach John Harbaugh spoke to the media today, and provided updates on several injured players, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Harbaugh said guard Alex Lewis, who recently underwent shoulder surgery, should be back by training camp, and that safety Tony Jefferson, linebacker Za’Darius Smith, and cornerback Tavon Young would all be out around 4-6 more weeks, putting them on track for OTA’s.
  • Texans rookie safety Justin Reid had a great rookie season, earning very high marks from Pro Football Focus, and he was playing hurt throughout the year. Reid had been dealing with wrist issues, and he will undergo wrist surgery, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. It’s unclear how long he’ll be sidelined, but it doesn’t sound like anything major and he should be ready in time for offseason work.
  • In case you missed it, the 49ers hope to have Jimmy Garoppolo throwing by OTA’s.

NFC East Rumors: Manning, Redskins, Eagles

Eli Manning‘s future with the Giants remains uncertain, and Manning’s agent has yet to hear from the team about his status. While Tom Condon said (via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post) he believes Manning will be back with the Giants for his age-38 season, he has not spoken with team brass about this yet. Both parties are in Mobile, Ala., this week for the Senior Bowl, so a conversation could transpire regarding a Manning 16th season with New York. The Giants have also not expressed any public desire to ask for a Manning pay cut, per Schwartz. The two-time Super Bowl MVP has one more season, at a $23.2MM cap number, remaining on his Giants deal. When asked earlier this month about Manning’s future with the Giants, Dave Gettleman did not commit to the popular quarterback coming back. Manning has not previously played into a contract year.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • A series of leg surgeries have Alex Smith‘s career in doubt, but the Redskins quarterback made his first public appearance since the injury Monday at the Wizards-Pistons game (via NBC Sports Washington, on Twitter). The 34-year-old passer’s injured right leg was heavily supported by an apparatus, with the quarterback also using crutches at the game. Smith underwent nearly six operations because of his severe leg injuries and a subsequent infection.
  • Former Redskins secondary coach will Torrian Gray resurface at Florida, where he will become the Gators’ DBs coach, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. Washington wants its new hire to become the passing-game coordinator, Keim adds (via Twitter). The Redskins also let linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti leave for the Packers, so Greg Manusky‘s new staff will look a bit different next season.
  • Jason Peters has one more season and a $10.66MM cap number left on his Eagles deal. The reigning Super Bowl champions are navigating the NFL’s worst cap situation, being one of two teams projected to be over the cap (at $14MM-plus over). Despite the team being able to save $8MM by releasing Peters, Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia expects the Eagles’ longtime left tackle starter to be back for one more season. Noting seventh-round project Jordan Mailata being too raw to deploy in Peters’ place, Frank sees the Eagles cutting costs elsewhere and bringing back Peters for his age-37 season. While Andrew Whitworth turned 37 last month, no other NFL tackle has played past his 37th birthday since Ray Brown — a full-time guard starter until age 42, when he shifted to tackle, who retired at 43 with the 2005 Redskins.

Alex Smith Unlikely To Be Ready By Week 1

The additional surgeries Alex Smith underwent recently have pushed his best-case timetable back. The Redskins quarterback is not expected to be ready by the time the 2019 regular season begins, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link).

While Smith’s playing future is up in the air, his previous rehab timeline was believed to have him ready for the preseason. The 34-year-old passer, who was released from the hospital last week, has a long road ahead for a potential return to action.

Washington has not yet decided if it wants to draft another quarterback or take the free agent route, per Rapoport.

Smith’s recent extension ties him to Washington through 2023. Colt McCoy has one more season remaining on his contract, but the Redskins may well need to have another starter-level option in the fold. They went the trade route with Smith, and Rapoport throws Joe Flacco into the mix as a possible option in a regional trade. Adding Flacco’s contract on top of Smith’s would be considerably onerous for Washington, however, if a trade is worked out.

Infection-related complications increased Smith’s surgery count to around six, so it’s impossible to determine at this juncture if the former 49ers and Chiefs starter is going to return at all. But the Redskins will have to plan to be without Smith for at least part of the 2019 season, even in the best-case scenario, at this point.

Washington missing the playoffs would bring a mid-first-round pick. While 2019 is not (as of now) viewed as a hotbed for quarterback prospects, the Redskins are still unlikely to be able to draft the prospect pool’s top passer without trading up. However, with Smith’s contract on the books, the team may opt for a Day 2 passer if the decision is made to invest in a rookie. The Redskins acquired Kirk Cousins with a Day 3 pick in 2012.

As for a bridge option in the event Smith is on track to return at some point in 2019 or after, Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor are expected to be available. There will be competition for both, however. Washington is projected to hold just more than $17MM in cap space, which ranks 29th at the moment.

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Latest On Jay Gruden, Alex Smith

It is difficult to blame Redskins head coach Jay Gruden for the team’s slide out of the playoff race this year given the spate of injuries that he has had to contend with, but he was mentioned as a hot seat candidate before the season even began — despite a 2017 campaign that was also marred by injury — so it stands to reason that his future with the club is questionable at best. Indeed, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) reports that Washington’s assistant coaches have become increasingly worried about their own futures, and a number of them have made calls around the league to determine what other options they might have in 2019.

Rapoport makes it clear that the team has made no decision on Gruden one way or another, though the behind-the-scenes activity RapSheet is describing does not paint a very promising picture. Gruden, though, is likely to land on his feet as a coordinator or perhaps even as a head coach in 2019, and he says he is not allowing his future distract him. Gruden said (via John Keim of ESPN.com), “It doesn’t weigh on me at all. I’ll wait to get final word when the season is over.” 

Gruden is under contract through the 2020 campaign thanks to a two-year extension signed in 2016 that includes $10MM in fully-guaranteed money, but he is already the longest-tenured head coach that the team has had under owner Dan Snyder, and assuming Josh Johnson does not pull off a miraculous stretch run, the Redskins will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive year. And, as might be expected when a team is going through the type of struggles the Redskins are battling, there is a perception that Gruden has lost the locker room, though he adamantly refutes that notion.

The team’s season really went south, of course, when starting quarterback Alex Smith suffered a brutal leg injury in November. Per Keim and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Smith has finally been released from the hospital, and while there is still of course no certainty as to whether he will be able to resume his playing career, the prognosis is encouraging. If Smith were unable to play again, the Redskins would be dealing with a potentially calamitous financial and on-field situation, which Gruden may be happy to get out of.

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Redskins Discussed Colin Kaepernick; Latest On Team’s QB Outlook

The Redskins saw their once-promising 2018 season take a nosedive when starting QB Alex Smith broke his tibia and fibia in a loss to the Texans last month. Washington lost its next two games and also saw its backup signal-caller, Colt McCoy, suffer a season-ending injury of his own. So while the Redskins are technically still alive in the NFC playoff race, they now have to find a way to qualify for the postseason with Mark Sanchez under center.

The team recently signed Josh Johnson to serve as Sanchez’s backup, but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that the Redskins did discuss Colin Kaepernick before signing Johnson. Washington head coach Jay Gruden said Kaepernick was “talked about and discussed,” but the team ultimately did not reach out to him (in fact, Schefter says that no club has contacted Kaepernick to gauge his interest or arrange a workout this year).

Gruden, of course, said that the decision to not pursue Kaepernick was a purely football one. He said the Redskins would have needed to change their offense too much to accommodate Kaepernick’s skill set, and that it may have been a different story if the team needed a new QB in Week 1 rather than Week 14. He did suggest that Kaepernick, who has not played a regular season snap in nearly two years, would have been a backup to Sanchez anyway and would not have been a candidate for the starting job. Gruden said, “[w]hen you’re talking about a backup quarterback this late in the game you want someone with a similar skill set to the quarterback you have. Not that Colin can’t do some of the things we’ve talked about, but we want someone with a little more familiarity.”

Speaking of Smith, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that the 34-year-old remains in the hospital (video link). Smith suffered an infection stemming from the above-referenced injury and had to undergo another procedure as a result. Rapoport suggests that Smith is still battling the infection, and no one has been able to definitively say that Smith will be able to play football again. At the very least, he seems highly unlikely to be ready for the start of the 2019 season, so the Redskins will need to acquire a QB either via free agency or the draft.

Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com explores Smith’s contract situation and the Redskins’ options with respect to that contract in excellent detail. Ultimately, he suggests that Washington may have to defer as much as much as $27.2MM to future years just to have enough money to conduct business in the 2019 and 2020 seasons, and the entire article is well-worth a read, especially for Redskins fans.

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Latest On Alex Smith

Alex Smith‘s future in the NFL remains uncertain, and the 14th-year quarterback continues to undergo surgical procedures.

A report earlier this week indicated Smith was dealing with an infection, which stemmed from his broken leg puncturing skin. But the 34-year-old passer had another operation done to remove implants inserted into his leg, and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (video link) the infection caused this latest surgery.

Since suffering a gruesome leg injury, Smith has undergone nearly six surgeries, Garafolo reports. However, the former No. 1 overall pick remains optimistic about resuming his career.

Initially, Smith was facing a six- to eight-month recovery timetable. That would have put him on track to return in time for the Redskins’ 2019 training camp. The latest news appears to amend that rehab timeline, and Smith’s 2019 season could be in jeopardy. The former 49ers and Chiefs quarterback is signed through the 2022 season, with ’19 being the first year on his latest extension. Washington guaranteed Smith $55MM at signing.

The 6-6 Redskins have gone from a Smith-Colt McCoy depth chart to Mark SanchezJosh Johnson. McCoy suffered a fractured fibula but is under contract in 2019, unlike the in-season injury replacements.

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NFC East Rumors: Redskins, Cowboys, Eagles

Redskins quarterback Alex Smith is currently battling a leg infection in his broken fibula and tibia, but he’s still optimistic about resuming his playing career, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Doctors are removing tissue to clear the infection, but the issue remains extremely serious. Smith’s broken bone punctured his skin, which can result in increased likelihood of infection even though Smith underwent immediate surgery. Washington is now down to its third quarterback of the season in Mark Sanchez, as No. 2 Colt McCoy is also done for the year after suffering a fractured fibula of his own.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Although Sean Lee himself has indicated he’ll be ready to play on Sunday, the Cowboys may hold out the veteran linebacker until Week 15, per Rapoport (Twitter link). When he does return, Dallas will need to decide how to divvy up its snaps in the second level of its defense. Lee, of course, is a superstar when on the field, but Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith are both immensely capable, as well. Pro Football Focus grades both Vander Esch and Smith as top-seven linebackers league-wide, and Vander Esch is in consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Given that NFL clubs are using nickel (two-linebacker) packages on more than two-thirds of plays, one of the Cowboys’ ‘backers will have to take a back seat.
  • Although he’s now the Redskinsbackup quarterback, Josh Johnson still intends to play for the Alliance of American Football’s San Diego Fleet in spring 2019, tweets Rapoport. Johnson was protected as the first overall pick in a recent AAF draft, and he’ll suit up when the league begins its season next year. One of several quarterbacks — including Landry Jones and Ryan Mallett — who worked out for Washington after Smith went down, Johnson had the edge given his history with head coach Jay Gruden. He’s the only signal-caller behind Sanchez on the Redskins’ depth chart.
  • The Eagles‘ offensive struggles shouldn’t be blamed on offensive coordinator Mike Groh, argues Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Groh, notably, doesn’t call the plays in Philadelphia, as head coach Doug Pederson holds those duties. The Eagles suffered a major brain drain this offseason, losing both ex-OC Frank Reich to the Colts and ex-QBs coach John DeFilippo to the Vikings, and now rank just 20th in offensive DVOA after finishing eighth a season ago.