When the Washington Football Team released Alex Smith last month, one of the logical landing spots for the quarterback appeared to be the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coach Urban Meyer coached Smith at Ohio State and general manager Trent Baalke once held the same title for Smith’s old team, the San Francisco 49ers. With the Jaguars expected to draft Trevor Lawrence first overall, Smith seemed like the perfect candidate to be a backup and a mentor.
Instead, the Jaguars signed C.J. Beathard as a backup and Smith remains unsigned.
What gives? Meyer said on a podcast with Michael Irvin that the team did indeed meet with the quarterback — but Jacksonville’s doctors were “very concerned” about Smith’s health. The 36-year-old, of course, suffered a life-threatening leg injury in 2018. And while he made a remarkable return to the field last year, Smith was hampered down the stretch with a bone bruise on that surgically repaired leg.
Meyer still didn’t rule out signing Smith, saying the Jaguars will continue to monitor the situation.
“I wanted him here,” Meyer said. “You know, we talked to him about joining here. He’s had a tough injury. Of all the players I’ve ever coached, and I would tell people this when people didn’t know how tough he was, he’s one of the toughest cats I’ve ever been around.
“We had conversations with him,” Meyer added. “There are some medical people in our organization that were very concerned. … So you have two people in Jacksonville that love Alex. It was that was deeper than a player, now. He’s like our family. Both of us feel so strongly about them. But that’s something that we’re just going to keep an eye on because I hope he comes back.”
When healthy, Smith played surprisingly well for Washington last year. His 5-1 record as a starter propelled Washington to the playoffs, though he ultimately missed the postseason because of the bone bruise. After the season, the NFL named Smith as the league’s comeback player of the year. Washington signed journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency, weeks after cutting Smith.
Smith, who turns 37 next month, has said he wants to keep playing football.