With the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position in 2013 for the Arizona Cardinals, it is fair to look at any and all options. One name that has been connected to the Cardinals has been Alex Smith, the one-time starter for the San Francisco 49ers, who now backs up Colin Kaepernick.
As a part of my "5 questions" with Niners Nation, I asked David Fucillo about Smith and his future with San Fran, and whether the Cardinals could come into play.
On the topic of quarterbacks, what does the future of Alex Smith look like? He is still under contract for next year, will he be cut or traded? Which is more likely? And if traded, where would the team look to for a trading partner? The Cardinals have a great need and there might be interest on that end. Would San Fran even consider trading him to a division rival?
Alex Smith is signed for two more seasons, but when he signed the three-year deal this past offseason, it was essentially three one-year deals. Smith's 2013 salary does not become fully guaranteed until April 1. They will owe him $1 million of that salary no matter what happens with him, but the remaining $6.5 million does not become guaranteed until 4/1. He is also a $1 million roster bonus at the start of the league year (I believe March 12 or so). If they release him before that, they would owe $1 million for the salary guarantee and nothing else.
The 49ers could release him to start the league year to avoid the roster bonus. Or, they pay him the roster bonus and try to trade him before April 1 when his full salary becomes guaranteed. I doubt he is on the roster by April 1, but whether it's release or trade depends on how other teams value him in terms of draft picks they are willing to give up. I think all the parties work out a trade in a fashion similar to what Joe Montana did back when he was traded to the Chiefs (and ironically enough, almost ended up with the Cardinals).
I think he ends up in the AFC, but I also think a deal within the division, or even NFC to a potential 2013 opponent might reveal something about how the team views Smith's capabilities. I think the Chiefs and the Ravens (if Flacco walks) are two possible destinations, and of course your Cardinals. One thing I'm keeping in mind is what happens with Norv Turner. Assuming he is fired, if he ends up somewhere as an OC and that team needs a veteran quarterback, Alex Smith's best season before Harbaugh came when Norv Turner was OC. I just have a hunch if Turner ends up as an OC somewhere, that team could be in play.
Here are my thoughts on Smith:
He would be an upgrade to what the team has now. One of his greatest strengths is his discipline, but what he would not have here in Arizona to protect him are the great offensive line and great running game. The defense is there to allow him to not take unnecessary risks on some drives. So there is some question about how effective he would be.
However, you cannot discount this -- he would be one very, very hungry quarterback with a chip on his shoulder. And nothing would be better for him than to beat the 49ers twice a season.
Now, if the 49ers cut him, I am more apt to go after him. However, if the Niners retain him and try to trade him, and would be willing to trade him to Arizona, at that point I run. The logic? You wouldn't trade a player to a division rival that you feel can beat you, unless you are plain arrogant. Being willing to trade him within the division tells you they clearly do not believe he is good enough to beat them. And if the Niners don't believe in him that much after he took them to an NFC title game, you steer clear of that player.
I tend to side with Fucillo in that if he is traded, it will be to the AFC or wherever Norv Turner goes, and that probably won't be the Cardinals.
Alex Smith to Arizona? I'd consider it a longshot.
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