Head coach Ron Rivera said in a statement that he had met with Smith to discuss his future and that both sides agreed it was “best” to part ways.
“I had the chance to meet with Alex Smith this week and we had a very honest and real discussion. We had the chance to reflect on the 2020 season and talk about moving forward into next year. After the conclusion of that meeting, we decided that it would be best for both parties to move on and we will be granting Alex his request to be released,” Rivera’s statement read.
“I want to thank Alex for his contributions this past year. 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. Everyone here in Washington wishes Alex and his family the best going forward and appreciates all that he gave our organization.”
Smith signed a four-year, $94 million contract extension with Washington in 2018 after being acquired by the team in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers. But he suffered a gruesome leg injury that year that required 17 surgeries on his leg. While he was in recovery, Smith contracted an infection that nearly cost him his limb and his life.
Smith stunned everyone in 2019 when he started to tease a possible and improbable return to the football field. He would make eight appearances for Washington in 2020 and would go on to earn the 2020 Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year.
Rumors of Smith’s departure began last month when he told GQ Magazine during an interview that he felt his return threw a “wrench” into the new organization’s plan.
“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,” he said. “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. At that point, as you can imagine, everything I’d been through, I couldn’t have cared less about all that. Whether you like it or not, I’m giving this a go at this point.”
Smith went 5-1 in six starts for Washington in 2020 and was a critical component in winning the NFC East division. He had 1,582 passing yards and six touchdown passes on the year.
Sources told ESPN that Smith would like to continue playing. Washington saved $14.9 million in cap space with Smith’s release.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.
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