ASHBURN, Va. -- The final outcome has been known for months. The decision was made long ago. Alex Smith was not going to be a member of the Washington Football Team in 2021.
Coach Ron Rivera would wisely deny this, but it was impossible to not see it in his face and hear it through his words: he was ready, in time, to move on from Smith.
Then the GQ feature came out, followed by misguided opinions of folks like Michael Wilbon that the WFT was a newly-minded "bad guy'' here.
READ MORE: Washington's Reaction to Smith & GQ
There was damage control after that on behalf of Smith, yet last Monday, it was game-on. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network circulated a report (that appeared to come from Smith's agents) that Smith would be released.
READ MORE: Smith Officially Released
Why do we believe this? Two reasons. One, we asked a high-ranking official in the moments after that report and there was surprise about the nature of it and the timing. Two, by Friday, the official word was handed down. Indeed, Smith was released and a free agent, as expected.
However, Rivera pointed out by statement that it was Smith who asked for his release.
Washington granted that request but it also saved the organization from having to do it. Alex knew it was going to happen. Washington knew they were going to have to pull the trigger. It's really that simple.
And nobody should blame the WFT; there was no "bad guy'' here.
Indeed, the move and the timing - rightfully assuming its inevitability - does Smith a favor.
It allows the veteran leader almost two weeks to find himself a home without any competition from the other free agent quarterbacks like Tyrod Taylor, Cam Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jacoby Brissett.
It's going to be tough enough for Smith to find a potential starting job, we'll guess, unless Jacksonville (Urban Meyer) or Chicago (Matt Nagy) comes calling. Smith has previously worked with both.
New England is a possibility. Miami and Denver are as well. Houston?
From our perch, we say good luck to Alex Smith. He did just about everything the right way: 11-5 as a starter, helped win a division title, persevered through incredible pain and suffering and he did it with inspirational class. But the WFT needed to move on, for reasons of finance and future. Moving now is a relative "win'' for everybody, even as some search for a villain in every story.