Alex Smith (QB)

Washington Sticking With Kyle Allen As Starter Despite Alex Smith’s Return

Perhaps the best story of the Week 5 slate was when Alex Smith made his improbable return to the field in relief of an injured Kyle Allen during Washington’s loss to the Rams. Unfortunately for Smith, it looks like he might have to head back to the bench for a bit.

Allen will remain the team’s starter for now if he’s healthy, head coach Ron Rivera said after the game. Allen was cleared by doctors to return on Sunday even though he never did, which would seemingly indicate he’ll be good to go for Week 6. Smith led the team to a field goal right before halftime, but was unable to get anything going in the second half as he was under heavy pressure.

Most importantly it was good to see Smith’s health hold up, especially when he took some big hits from Aaron Donald and co. His final stat line turned out pretty ugly though, as he finished 9/17 for 37 yards while taking six sacks. Despite Washington’s 1-4 start they’re very much in the thick of the abysmal NFC East, especially in the wake of Dak Prescott‘s brutal ankle injury.

Rivera clearly wants to compete for the division, it’s why he benched Dwayne Haskins in the first place, so it’d be somewhat surprising if we don’t see Smith again soon. Allen is a fighter, but his upside isn’t very high and the team’s ceiling is almost certainly higher with a pre-injury Smith if he’s able to return to that form.

Allen was 9/13 for 74 yards with a seven-yard rushing touchdown before a hit from Jalen Ramsey temporarily sidelined him. Washington’s upcoming schedule consists of the Giants, Cowboys, Giants, Lions, Bengals, and Cowboys, so they’ve definitely got some winnable games on the horizon. Meanwhile Haskins has been demoted to third string and is reportedly likely to get traded soon, and with all the drama in this quarterback room it’ll be a very interesting situation to monitor moving forward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Washington To Trade Dwayne Haskins?

Although Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins turned in a decent performance against the Ravens last week, head coach Ron Rivera elected to bench the 2019 first-rounder in favor of Kyle Allen. Not only that, Haskins is now the No. 3 QB on the team’s depth chart behind Allen and Alex Smith.

As one might expect, the relationship between Haskins and the WFT coaching staff has turned toxic, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. The staff did not have a hand in drafting the Ohio State product, who was selected by the prior Washington regime, and as the QB3, Haskins will not get much practice time and will be a healthy scratch most weeks.

One of La Canfora’s sources, who has talked with numerous WFT staffers, said, “[w]hat they’ll tell you in that building is that [Haskins] is a project who was drafted by the owner and his son. That’s the bottom line there. Allen is their guy. They think he fits their system. They didn’t really want anything to do with Haskins from the beginning.”

Multiple sources within the organization believe that Haskins will be traded before the November 3 deadline, and those close to the second-year pro have told him that a trade would be the best outcome for him. At this point, it’s hard to argue with that, though it’s unclear who might be interested and what the trade compensation might be.

Because it plays in such a weak division, Washington believes it has a real chance to be a playoff contender this year. As such, Rivera would like to hand the reins to Smith sooner rather than later, as La Canfora details in a separate piece. The fact that Smith is on a football field at all is nothing short of a miracle, but the staff believes that with another couple of weeks of practice, the 36-year-old will be ready to start once again.

Smith has not played since November 18, 2018, the day he suffered the brutal leg injury that nearly cost him his life.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Washington To Bench Dwayne Haskins

The Washington Football Team is making a quarterback change. Former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins will be benched in favor of Kyle Allen, as Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweet. Furthermore, Haskins will be moved down to No. 3 on the QB depth chart with Alex Smith taking over as the primary backup. 

Washington tried to tailor the offense to Haskins’ strengths this offseason while giving him all of the first-string reps in practice. So far, that hasn’t panned out. After their comeback win over the Eagles to start the season, WFT has gone without a W in the last three games.

Haskins, the No. 15 overall pick of the 2019 draft, has been sacked a ton — the offensive line is partially to blame, though Haskins has not been able to locate his open targets quickly, either. Between his three interceptions and one fumble against the Browns, Haskins is coming off of a four-turnover game, one that may change the trajectory of his NFL career. All in all, Haskins has completed just 56.4% of his passes with four touchdowns against three INTs.

Washington is set to play the Ravens this week, presenting Allen with a tough task. But, after that, they have a fairly soft stretch that includes the Rams, Giants (2x), Cowboys, and Lions. Ron Rivera & Co. believe that Allen can take advantage of that stretch and put them on the right track.

Meanwhile, this marks yet another remarkable milestone for Smith, who suffered a gruesome leg injury in November of 2018.The injury was thought to be a potential career ender, especially after Smith contracted sepsis. Now healthy, the 36-year-old could be on the verge of taking his first snap in years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Giants, Smith

Jalen Reagor will miss the Eagles‘ season opener, and possibly the first two games of the year, with a labrum tear, Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hears. The silver lining is that Reagor’s shoulder injury is not major and he will not require surgery. Reagor, the No. 21 overall pick in the draft, racked up 2,248 yards and 22 touchdowns over the course of three seasons at TCU. The speedster figures to play a significant role in the Eagles’ offense when he returns.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Carson Wentz has missed multiple Eagles practices due to an unspecified soft tissue injury, per Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but Doug Pederson indicated the fifth-year quarterback is not dealing with anything major. While any Wentz injury is notable given his history, he will be expected to be under center in Week 1.
  • Logan Ryan‘s Giants deal is a one-year pact worth $5MM in base value, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. The extra $2.5MM in Ryan’s contract comes through incentives. A playing-time structure covers $1.5MM of the incentives, with Florio adding that Ryan can earn up to $1.5MM through these escalators. Ryan would earn that sum if he plays 90% of the Giants’ snaps, however, and it would take an 80% snap rate for him to collect $1MM. The other $1MM in this deal involves accolades, with Ryan receiving $500K for a Pro Bowl honor and another $500K for an All-Pro nod. The seven-year veteran has never made a Pro Bowl.
  • For the first time since his gruesome November 2018 injury, Alex Smith participated in team drills. The Washington quarterback took snaps in 11-on-11 sessions, John Keim of ESPN.com notes. Washington was not in full pads during this session, but the 36-year-old passer continues to work his way back after what looked like a career-ending injury. Ron Rivera would like to see Smith participate in a fully padded team session this week. Smith’s 2020 base salary ($16MM) is guaranteed. He is set to count $21.4MM against Washington’s cap this season.
  • Jason Peters has requested a raise to move back to left tackle, and it is not clear the Eagles will oblige. Peters is still working at guard with Philly, which has used Matt Pryor in place of injured left tackle Andre Dillard, per Bowen. A sixth-round pick in 2018, Pryor did not play as a rookie and has seen only 79 snaps of NFL action. Pryor primarily worked as a guard at TCU, though he made six starts at right tackle as a senior. This would be an interesting route for the Eagles to take, however, given their usual commitment to their offensive line.
  • DeAndre Baker‘s arraignment date has been moved back four months, with the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard reporting the Giants cornerback is now set to appear in court Jan. 20, 2021. This could potentially close the book on Baker’s 2020 season. A 2019 first-round pick, Baker faces four charges of armed robbery with a firearm. He resides on the commissioner’s exempt list.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Washington QB Alex Smith Activated

One of the most remarkable comebacks in NFL history is complete. Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith has been activated off the PUP list and will return to the field, as Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic was the first to report (via Twitter). The team formally announced the move this morning.

By now, most NFL fans know the story. Smith, whom Washington acquired in a trade with the Chiefs in January 2018 and subsequently signed to a four-year, $94MM extension, broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg during a game against the Texans in November 2018. The injury was gruesome to behold, and its aftermath was even worse.

Smith developed sepsis, and the possibility of amputation was very real. The three-time Pro Bowler even indicated that he feels lucky just to be alive. He ultimately underwent 17 operations but vowed to resume his playing career, though his wife, Elizabeth, has understandably been conflicted on the matter.

But in an Instagram post that preceded Jhabvala’s report, Elizabeth wrote, “Hard work pays off! Lots to celebrate in the Smith house tonight,” and uploaded a video showing Alex’s family spraying him with champagne.

Of course, much has changed since Smith’s injury (aside from his team’s name). Washington was 6-3 and in the thick of the the NFC East race before Smith was hurt, but they ended up 7-9 that season and finished third in the division. They drafted Dwayne Haskins in the first round of the 2019 draft to be their QB of the future, and after they limped to a 3-13 record last season, they overhauled their front office and coaching staff, bringing in Ron Rivera as their new field general.

Rivera has previously indicated that Smith would be included in the team’s QB competition if activated, and while it would be surprising to see anyone other than Haskins under center when Week 1 rolls around, it’s clearly unwise to count Smith out. As John Keim of ESPN.com writes, Smith will be on the field when Washington begins full-pad work on Tuesday.

Now 36, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft will, if nothing else, provide invaluable veteran mentorship for Haskins and Kyle Allen. Smith will carry a $21.4MM cap charge in 2020, but Washington can release him after the season for some significant cap relief. He is due to count $24.4MM against the cap in 2021, but his dead cap hit drops to $10.8MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Washington’s Alex Smith To Take Physical

Washington’s Alex Smith will take a physical exam on Monday and he’s expected to begin camp on the club’s active/PUP list, according to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). This doesn’t necessarily mean that Smith will be able to play in 2020, but it’s an encouraging step forward for the quarterback. 

[RELATED: Washington Signs Chase Young]

Smith, 36, has said that he feels “very much lucky to be alive” after his horrific injury and ensuing sepsis infection. Smith’s wife, and others, have expressed concern about the QB’s plans to return. He’s already made more money than he can ever spend, but he badly wants to retake the field.

When I think about Alex returning to football, there’s part of me that wants him to do whatever he has the inner drive to do,” Smith’s wife, Elizabeth Smith, said earlier this year. “If that means stepping back on the football field and throwing on those pads, then I want him to prove that to himself. But obviously there’s part of me asking, “‘Is it worth ever doing that again? Do you know what we just went through?’”

Smith’s contract calls for him to count for $21.4MM against Washington’s cap this year, with his $16MM base salary fully guaranteed. If he is ultimately cleared to play, he’ll join Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen on the QB depth chart.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Smith, Cowboys, Prescott

With graphic details and graphic images, ESPN.com’s Elizabeth Smith and Stephania Bell bring us the story of Alex Smith‘s gruesome injury and his road to recovery.

“Our first priority is we’re going to save his life,” a hospital worker said to Alex’s wife, Elizabeth, just days after the injury. “And then we’re going to do our best to save his leg. And anything beyond that is a miracle.”

Smith said that he feels “very much lucky to be alive” after the horrific injury and ensuing sepsis infection. And, after celebrating his 36th birthday in May, the Redskins quarterback is working towards an NFL return. Mrs. Smith, meanwhile, is conflicted.

When I think about Alex returning to football, there’s part of me that wants him to do whatever he has the inner drive to do. If that means stepping back on the football field and throwing on those pads, then I want him to prove that to himself. But obviously there’s part of me asking, “‘Is it worth ever doing that again? Do you know what we just went through?'”

Here’s more on the Redskins, the Redskins’ quarterback situation, and the rest of the NFC East:

  • Talk of Tua Tagovailoa going to the Redskins didn’t bother starter Dwayne Haskins.“Throughout the whole process Ron [Rivera] was just telling me to trust him,” Haskins said (via JP Finlay of NBC Sports). “I did so it worked out.” The Redskins were long expected to take Chase Young with the No. 2 pick, but there were Tua rumblings on draft week. Ultimately, they took the Ohio State edge rusher and passed on the Alabama star.
  • If the Cowboys can’t work out an extension with Dak Prescott by July 15th, they’ll have to wait until after the 2020 season to resume negotiations. That deadline puts some serious pressure on the team to get something done with their beloved QB, but COO Stephen Jones says he won’t break the budget. “There’s all sorts of analytics out there that show if your quarterback takes up too big a percentage of your salary cap, it decreases your chances to win,” Jones said (via PFT). “We’re just trying to figure out the right fit. No one wants to sign Dak to a longer term deal more than Jerry and myself. We’re on the record time and time again on what we think of him as a leader. He has the ‘it’ factor. He’s a fierce competitor. He wants to win as well, and it’s just gotta be right for him and right for us.”
  • The Cowboys are feeling really, really good about their Day 2 and Day 3 haul in the draft, Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes. Before the draft, they had a “high-second-round” grade on cornerback Trevon Diggs – they landed him at No. 51 overall. They assigned a second-round grade to defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, and snagged him in the third. In the fourth round, they see yet another steal – the scouting department gave center Tyler Biadasz a high-third-round score and snagged him with the last pick of the fourth round. Time will tell, but the Cowboys are doing cartwheels over their 2020 middle-round choices.
  • Carlos Hyde, who racked up 1,000+ yards rushing in Houston last year, is still available. The Eagles are interested, but they only want him at the right price.
  • Recently, the Giants reworked Cooper Rush‘s contract to dial down his base pay but also give him a chunk of guaranteed money. That may bode well for his odds of making the roster, but he’s got lots of competition.

Alex Smith: ‘Lucky To Be Alive’ After Leg Condition

Alex Smith‘s long road back to a potential NFL comeback might not end up coming to fruition, but the Redskins quarterback considers himself “very much lucky to be alive” after the infection and numerous surgeries that became required on his broken leg.

Information about Smith’s surgery history has continued to trickle out over the past year and change, but the veteran passer revealed during an appearance on ESPN’s Outside the Lines (via ESPN.com’s Stephania Bell) he developed sepsis. The potentially life-threatening condition stemmed from the infection Smith encountered, and the possibility of leg amputation was very real following the November 2018 injury.

[The] next thing I remember is waking up several weeks later faced with the decision of amputation or limb salvage at that point,” Smith said during the interview of a choice presented to him weeks after the injury.

The former 49ers and Chiefs quarterback opted for numerous surgeries to save his injured leg. Smith suffered a compound right tibia fracture and a right fibula fracture. The most recent information indicated Smith underwent 17 operations on the leg since suffering the injuries during a Redskins-Texans game in November 2018.

Smith since overcame the infection and has made strides over the past 14 months. He remains interested in returning to action, and Ron Rivera brought up the injured passer’s name unprompted during a recent interview.

I also don’t want to forget Alex Smith,” Rivera said during an appearance on The Team 980’s Doc & Galdi show. “Here’s a guy that’s doing everything he can to come back, and if Alex can come back and be the player that he was, we have a good situation; we [would] have competition at that position.”

Smith, who will turn 36 in May, is on Washington’s payroll at $21.4MM in 2020. His $16MM 2020 base salary is fully guaranteed. Dwayne Haskins remains expected to be the Redskins’ Week 1 quarterback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Rumors: Snyder, Rivera, Kerrigan

Although since-fired team president Bruce Allen took most of the heat for the Redskins’ personnel decisions during the 2010s, Dan Snyder has continued to play a role in the franchise’s football operations. Allen was also believed to be on the side of drafting Dwayne Haskins, but John Keim and Jason Reid of ESPN.com write Snyder appeared to lead that charge — even though the owner once criticized for his big-ticket moves has contributed less input on that front in recent years. Some in Washington’s building placed a third-round grade on Haskins, per Keim and Reid. Haskins was viewed as a first-round pick for most of the pre-draft process. While Ron Rivera is expected to have more control over Redskins personnel matters than Jay Gruden, sources informed the ESPN duo they still expect Snyder to be involved.

Here is the latest out of Washington:

  • New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio confirmed the Redskins will shift back to a 4-3 base defense, Les Carpenter of the Washington Post notes. Both Rivera and Del Rio have used 4-3 bases for most of their respective careers, so this should come as no surprise. However, Snyder is believed to have made this a point of emphasis, per Keim and Reid. The Redskins have not deployed a 4-3 base defense in 11 seasons, though with teams’ increased nickel usage, transitions in front-seven schemes are not as significant as they once were. This will make Washington’s starting lineup interesting, however, with the team having three talented interior defenders — Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and 2019 sack leader Matt Ioannidis — up front.
  • Ryan Kerrigan just completed a down year, registering a career-low 5.5 sacks and missing the first two games of his career. The productive Redskins edge defender is going into a contract year, but Keim tweets Kerrigan and previous Redskins management had engaged in extension talks in 2019. Kerrigan, 31, would like to stay with Washington on a third contract.
  • Rather than retirement, Alex Smith will continue his efforts to return to the field. The Redskins quarterback has missed the past 22 games because of a gruesome leg injury that required numerous surgeries. “I still have dreams of getting back to where I was and getting back out there,” Smith said, via NBC Sports Washington’s Ethan Cadeaux. “This has been a crazy ride with a lot of unforeseen turns, but without a doubt, that’s still my goal.” Smith, 35, is set to count $21.4MM against Washington’s cap this season. No cap savings can come of a Smith release until 2021.

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles

The Cowboys may be without their top wide receiver when they face the Eagles in a key NFC East battle on Sunday night. Amari Cooper left Sunday’s loss to the Jets after only three snaps due to a quadriceps injury, and while the issue isn’t getting any worse, it could derail his availability for Week 7, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Despite missing nearly all of Week 6, Cooper still ranks fifth in the NFL in receiving yards (515) and is tied for second with five receiving touchdowns. Cooper hasn’t practiced this week, another indication that he’ll be either out or limited for Dallas’ showdown with Philadelphia.

Here’s more from around the NFC East:

  • Redskins quarterback Alex Smith has undergone an astounding 17 surgeries on his broken right leg, as Thom Loverro of the Washington Times writes. Last December, a report indicated Smith had gone under the knife six times, so either that report was inaccurate, or Smith has undergone an additional 11 surgeries this calendar year. Ben Standing of The Athletic caught Smith throwing with team officials at Fedex Field on Monday, an encouraging sign. Smith, who was confined to a wheel chair for four months post-surgeries, indicated as recently as June that he wants to play in the NFL again.
  • Under interim head coach Bill Callahan, the Redskins are making a number of changes, and the club is feeling more upbeat as a result, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. One such change was making quarterback Colt McCoy a healthy scratch against the Dolphins on Sunday, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. McCoy, who started Washington’s Week 5 loss to the Patriots, is possibly viewed as former head coach Jay Gruden‘s “guy,” per Breer, which may have played a role in his inactive status. McCoy joined the Redskins in 2014, the same year as Gruden.
  • Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby returned as a limited practice participant on Wednesday, tweets Mike Kaye of NJ.com. Darby has missed Philadelphia’s past three games after suffering a hamstring injury against the Lions in Week 3. The Eagles can use all the help they can get at cornerback — they’ve given up the most touchdowns to wide receivers of any team in the NFL (11), and only the Buccaneers have allowed more yardage to opposing wideouts.