Washington Football Team Releases QB Alex Smith

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The Washington Football Team has informed quarterback Alex Smith of his release, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

With the move, the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year becomes a free agent and the team saves $14.9 million against the salary cap, with $8.6 million in dead money.

Smith went 5–1 as a starter in 2020 and helped lead Washington to a playoff berth. His solid performance last season marked his incredible return to the NFL after he suffered a gruesome leg injury in November 2018 that required 17 operations and nearly a leg amputation. He missed all of 2019 rehabbing the injury.

WFT head coach Ron Rivera released a statement Friday on releasing Smith.

"He made such an impact on our young roster and his leadership was one of the key factors in our late season success and in making the playoffs for the first time since 2015," Rivera said. "I want to thank Alex for his contributions this past year."

In a recent interview with GQ, Smith, 36, spoke candidly about his leg injury and rehab process, saying the team seemed to prefer he didn't return to football.

"When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team's plan," Smith said. "They didn't see it, didn't want me there, didn't want me to be a part of it, didn't want me to be on the team, the roster, didn't want to give me a chance. Mind you, it was a whole new regime. They came in, I'm like the leftovers and I'm hurt and I'm this liability. ... Heck no, they didn't want me there."

Smith joined Washington in 2018 and started 10 games that year before suffering his grisly leg injury. Last season, he threw for 1,582 yards and six touchdowns in eight games. Washington opened the year with former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins as its starter but eventually had Smith, Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke start games at different points in the season. Haskins was cut before Week 17. 

Washington plans to upgrade at quarterback this offseason. Between Smith's age and his salary, his release seemed inevitable.

The team, which went 7–9 in 2020, re-signed Heinicke to a two-year deal in early February and has the No. 19 pick in the 2021 NFL draft.