Alex Smith still wants to continue his NFL career, but it sounds more and more like that might happen outside of Washington.
Even if Ron Rivera's squad wants the veteran back, potentially to compete with the likes of Taylor Heinicke or another younger signal-caller, does Smith want to play in Washington?
In an interview with GQ's Clay Skipper, Smith relayed that those in the building last year didn't believe he would play again.
"They never thought I was coming back," he said. "No one there. I did all my rehab outside of the building. They do ACLs and stuff like that. But walking in with what I had, it's like you got three eyes."
The normally politically correct Smith, who played in eight games, starting six, and won AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year, said his return messed with the team's plan at quarterback.
"So there was a very small group of people that actually thought that I could do this," Smith said. "I think the rest of the world either doubted me, or they patronized me. 'Yeah, that's really nice that you're trying.' When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team'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. 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. [laughs] Whether you like it or not, I'm giving this a go at this point."
Smith said he had to convince the staff that he could not only play, but play at a high level.
"I mean, they tried to put me on PUP [Physically Unable to Perform] for two weeks, then they tried to high-arm me," he said. "I felt like I still hadn't had my fair shake at that point. I wanted to see if I could play quarterback and play football, and I feel like I hadn't been given that opportunity yet to find that out. It's like getting this close to the end line of a marathon, and they're telling you that you can't finish the race. It's like, (expletive) that. I'm finishing this thing. At least I'm going to see if I can. So, I'm thankful we worked through all that stuff but no, it wasn't like open arms coming back after two years. Like I said, new coaches, new faces, and I think I definitely surprised a lot of people that never thought I would even be trying it."
Smith's first action since his brutal leg injury came in Week 5 against the Los Angeles Rams after Kyle Allen got injured. Rivera went back to Dwayne Haskins at that point for a couple of weeks before Smith made his first start in Week 10. The veteran started six games down the stretch, winning five, but could not play in the playoffs due to another injury.
Undoubtedly, if Smith hadn't returned to the lineup, Washington wouldn't have stormed back into the postseason race and won the division. While the Football Team defense did the heavy lifting, Smith's presence made for a more reliable offense.
While Smith has talked openly about his desire to return this offseason, this is the first time we've heard such frank discussion from his point of view about how the staff in Washington didn't think he'd return. The comments to GQ now raise the question of whether Smith would want to return even if the team would like him back.
The 36-year-old said his goal to continue his career remains, wherever that might happen.
"But football-wise, I got more left," he said. "I got more to get there too. So I really do really wanna get in the meat of this offseason and see where I'm at and push it. I want to push my body harder. I want to push my leg harder. The harder I push it, it does respond. So I kind of want to go do that. At some point, I'm obviously going to have to sit down with my wife and have a very real conversation and, do we want to do this? She deserves a ton of input. So we'll see."