His name has been on the wind, floating into and around the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday, after it was reported the Washington Football Team would be moving on from the veteran quarterback.
The Jaguars, owners of the No. 1 pick in the upcoming April 2021 NFL Draft, are all but guaranteed to select Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence. It has been stated by team owner Shad Khan and Head Coach Urban Meyer that the pick will be the most important decision in franchise history and for that matter, their lives.
Suffice to say, if Alex Smith moves to Jacksonville, he won’t be the starter. Still, the reasons are vast and legitimate for why Smith would be an excellent option for the Jaguars as a backup and mentor for Trevor Lawrence. Jaguar Report’s John Shipley examined many of them here, but others have continued to speak on the impact of Alex Smith, the latest being Florida Gators Head Coach Dan Mullen.
Mullen was the offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer at Utah and Florida, and as such was the OC for Smith during his time with the Utes en route to becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. The two became so close that Smith was a groomsman in Mullen’s wedding (Mullen wanted to return the favor but his son was born the week of Smith’s wedding).
“I think Alex is an unbelievable role model for people,” Mullen bragged about his former QB on Monday. He was asked if he’d heard from Smith or Meyer about the duo possibly reuniting. While he effaced that question, he didn't pass up the opportunity to extol all the virtues of Smith.
“If you really dig in, if you get to know him, what a role model he is. From being a student-athlete, the success he had from being like a one or a zero star, from whatever he is to being the No. 1 pick in the draft. Graduating college in two years. And then goes on and helps organizations, build organizations up to championship levels. Just an unbelievable leader, unbelievable teammate. You’d be hard-pressed to find many guys that don’t say he’s one of the greatest teammates they’ve ever had on the field.”
He’s right. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has raved about what Alex Smith meant to him, saying “I attribute a lot of my early success to Alex,” during the Chiefs 2020 Super Bowl run.
Another one of those teammates, former Gators OC and current Philadelphia Eagles passing game coordinator Brian Johnson, counts his time behind Smith at Utah as incredibly formative to his later success.
“I can’t say enough about Alex. He’s still one of my closest friends,” Johnson stated in September of last season.
“I couldn’t be prouder of him. He’s like a big brother to me. He always has been. I’ve known him since I was 16 years old. He’s someone that I really look up to and can’t say enough positive things about what he’s fought through.”
Johnson went on to explain how he used Smith's approach to the game as well as his heart to come back from a life-threatening leg injury as an example to motivate Kyle Trask, the Gators Heisman finalist last season. While Smith, the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year after his injury, serves as an inspiring story and example for whoever looks his way, it’s his brain in the quarterback room that may of the most significance.
While the 36-year old who led the Washington Football Team to the playoffs this season could still be in demand as a starter, it’s not a stretch to say the sun is setting on his time as a QB1 in the NFL. But his immense experience as a former No. 1 overall pick himself could be invaluable to Lawrence, along with just 15 years of NFL knowledge.
"One of the smartest people I’ve ever met and an unbelievable competitor. I think whoever gets him is going to get an unbelievable human being and a guy that obviously, one of the great comeback stories in the history of the NFL,” declared Mullen.
Smith will have at least some freedom to choose his next team as a free agent. will it be the Jacksonville Jaguars, reuniting him with his former coach? That’s yet to be seen. But his other former coach promises one thing.
“Whoever gets him is going to be pretty fortunate.”