Update: Alex Smith will not go to IR
Washington is keeping Alex Smith on its initial 53-man roster with the intent of leaving him on the roster and not placing him on injured reserve, a person with knowledge of the situation said.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) September 5, 2020
Tom Pelissero says that he’s heard from people in the know that Alex Smith will be on the 53-man roster when the 4pm deadline arrives today. If Smith is still on the team’s roster when opening day arrives and the Eagles show up to play a game at Fed Ex Field, it will mark an almost unbelievable return to pro football for Smith, who, in the weeks following his gruesome injury in the tenth game of the 2018 season, was in danger of amputation or even death due to complications arising from infection.
His recovery process was followed by ESPN and shown to the world in a documentary titled Project 11, which illustrated in great detail how brutal Alex Smith’s return to football has been.
The Washington Football Team plans to keep QB Alex Smith on its 53-man roster, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 5, 2020
Smith still has a long way to go. But another amazing step in his journey back from a catastrophic leg injury.
Many fans question whether Alex Smith is healthy enough to play. Even coach Ron Rivera and Smith himself have discussed the need for Alex to be confident in the leg and have enough mobility to protect himself on an NFL field. Many people think that Smith should either be on IR or retired, but the quarterback himself seems determined to play football again.
There is the possibility that Smith gets on the field for Washington, but he’s a long way from that happening. Dwayne Haskins is the starting quarterback, and, in Kyle Allen, the team has a healthy backup with starting experience who knows the offense. It is unlikely that anyone will rush Alex Smith back onto the field. If he remains on the 53, he seems likely to be inactive on game days.
There is no real reason for the team to release Smith since his salary for the 2020 season is fully guaranteed, and releasing him now would simply accelerate all of the dead money from his contract into this season. It seems sensible, as long as he’s getting paid anyway, for the team to take advantage of his knoledge, leadership and inspiration.
There is, of course, the possibility that Pelissero’s sources are completely wrong, and that the team plans to put him on IR today before the 4pm deadline, but if they do that, Smith’s chances of playing this season are over. He will be out for the year.
But there is a path between being on IR or being on the 53-man roster all season long.
The team has an opportunity to keep Smith on the roster at the 4pm deadline, releasing another player instead, but then following it up with a set of roster moves later in the week, moving Smith to IR and signing (or re-signing) a player to now open spot in the roster. That would allow Smith a path back to the active roster in 2020, and because of the special rules adopted to help deal with playing football during a pandemic, he would be eligible to be activated as soon as Week 4 of the season.
Some people think that is the path most likely to be taken by the front office and coaching staff, and it seems to be logical, but everything about Alex Smith’s injury and recovery has appeared to defy logic, so I’m not counting him out of having a spot on the 53-man roster all season long until I see an official announcement from the Washington Football Team.
I’ll be watching Twitter closely.