USA TODAY Sports
John Clayton believes that Smith will run to Arizona if released, but signs point to the 49ers holding on to him and trading him.
The Arizona Cardinals need a quarterback and the San Francisco 49ers seem to have an extra one in Alex Smith, who has not only been a starter, but has had success. In fact, he was playing the best football of his career in 2012 until he went down with a concussion and never played again as Colin Kaepernick held on to the starting job and led the Niners to the Super Bowl.
However, now the Niners have a big decision. Smith is due about $7.5 million dollars next season. They could keep him as an expensive backup to Kaepernick, as the young starter is still on his rookie contract and cannot renegotiate it until after next season. They could trade him to another team or they could simply release him and save the money.
Smith would prefer to be released so that he choose his next destination, but he is not the one to make that decision. As for now, the Niners are holding firm that they don't have to do anything with him.
ESPN analyst John Clayton was asked about the Smith situation when he was on the radio in Phoenix on Thursday.
He was asked if San Francisco has a plan.
"Oh, they're bluffing in that way because they're trying to get trade value and in some ways, they need to get trade value because I would have to think that if he's released, he'll make a beeline to Arizona and compete against the 49ers two times a year for the next several years," Clayton said
That would make the most sense for Smith. But there is no guarantee that the Cards want him, although there is reported interest.
Over at Niners Nation, there was a fantastic post on the Smith situation. It suggests that the Niners most certainly should not release him, as he does have value, and that they should be able to haul in a first round draft pick from a team. The best matches are supposed to be the Jets, Browns and Bills.
The more and more I hear and read, as much as Smith deserves to go play as a starter and to pick his destination, it looks like it would be folly for the Niners to let him go with no compensation. As such, I don't see the Cardinals pulling the trigger on a trade for a quarterback this offseason, especially since they do have much invested in Kevin Kolb.
The only way I think that Smith lands in Arizona is in the case of Smith being released. I do believe, though, that he would jump at the chance to play his current team twice a year.
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