The San Francisco 49ers will try to trade quarterback Alex Smith, but could release the former No. 1 overall pick this offseason if the market doesn’t net what the team feels is adequate value in return, according to ESPN NFL insider John Clayton.
Smith could potentially wind up wearing the uniform of the division rival Arizona Cardinals in 2013, but in order for that to happen, an unlikely set of circumstances would have to play out in the form of San Francisco not being able to find a suitor outside of the division in the open market. Given the number of teams that need to find a viable solution at the position, the market for Smith’s services figures to be rather large.
Still, if the 49ers couldn’t get adequate value, they could release him, leaving him to go where he chooses. At that point, he could relish the opportunity to face the team that drafted him. Are the 49ers worried?
“Oh, they’re bluffing in that way because they’re trying to get trade value,” Clayton told Arizona Sports 620′s “Doug and Wolf Show”. ”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.”
Of course, anything Clayton says should be taken with a grain of salt, but Smith ending up with the Cardinals is a very real possibility given their struggles at the position. Arizona quarterbacks were ranked 31st in the NFL in passing touchdowns with 31 and threw an NFL-worst 21 interceptions en route to a disappointing 5-11 season that saw the team go 5-11 and finish last in the NFC West.
Smith lost his job to Colin Kaepernick following a Week 9 concussion suffered vs. the St. Louis Rams amidst the best statistical season of his career where he finished with a 104.1 QB rating with 13 touchdowns against just five interceptions.
Should he be released, NFL free agency for 2013 begins on March 12.