Alex Smith announced his NFL retirement earlier this week, but his decision to walk away from football apparently had nothing to do with a lack of interest around the league.
Smith’s incredible NFL journey was profiled by Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop in a column published Thursday. According to Bishop, Smith generated interest from multiple teams — including the New England Patriots — as he mulled over his football future.
” … Jacksonville offered a contract, though Jags GM Trent Baalke wanted Smith to sign a special waiver for his leg and suggested any team would request the same,” Bishop wrote. “The Texans wanted him too, but their quarterback situation remains in flux. Smith also heard from the Patriots, Eagles and Colts. But everyone had questions, conditions. He realized that only one path remained to leave football on his terms.”
The Patriots’ reported interest in Smith is a bit surprising, unless New England reached out to the 2020 Comeback Player of the Year prior to re-signing Cam Newton less than a week before the official start of free agency. Smith potentially could have served as a great mentor to an incoming rookie quarterback, but it wouldn’t have made much sense for New England to have two past-their-prime QBs with concerning injury histories on the depth chart.
Not to mention, Smith — although he played in half as many games as Newton in 2020 — posted worse numbers than the Patriots’ current starter last season. Nothing suggests Smith would have been much improved in 2021, and he would have been tasked with learning an entirely new offense.
Again, New England might have pictured Smith primarily as a mentor for a rookie, but the Patriots — even after their spending spree — aren’t set up to start the new campaign with a first-year player under center.
Regardless, it doesn’t seem as though Smith and the Patriots got very far with their conversation(s), and it might have been nothing more than a check-in.