Following a heartbreaking defeat in Super Bowl XLVII, the San Francisco 49ers have a decision to make regarding Alex Smith. The good news is it certainly sounds like there will be a trade market for the quarterback.
The San Francisco 49ers will attempt to trade quarterback Alex Smith this offseason, according to league sources, and some believe they will be able to do it because there is not a great supply of available quarterbacks and there is a demand for Smith.
Schefter does mention that Cleveland could have an interest because of Smith's past relationship with offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who worked for the 49ers in 2006, and Kansas City due to Andy Reid's past interest in him.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that Smith is going to request his release from the 49ers so he can have his choice of destinations, rather than being forced to go somewhere that he might not be able to succeed in.
Instead, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that Smith is expected to seek his release before the start of free agency.
It’s a calculated risk for Smith. On one hand, he’s be able to join any team he wants. On the other hand, he’d be losing the $8.5 million that he’d earn this year if his contract is traded.
The contract issue is a big factor at play for the 49ers in this process. If there were no financial implications, the team would likely have no issue letting Smith walk.
However, per Schefter's report, the 49ers will save $1 or $2 million on Smith's roster bonus by trading him instead of releasing him.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported in the video above that Smith will "not be a member of the 49ers next season." He also said (via Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com) that the 49ers will cut him "as early as possible" because of the respect he earned this season.
He also said that "all the quarterback-needy teams" will be interested in Smith except the New York Jets. He talked about the Bills actually asking head-coaching candidates about Smith in the interview process.
Smith's offseason is going to be one of the most fascinating to watch. It is obvious the 49ers would love to trade him, either to acquire a player who could help them out in 2013 or for a draft pick, and save the money on his contract along the way.
There are who would say that the 49ers owe it to Smith to release him and let him do what he wants after his years of service to the franchise and the way he handled himself after Colin Kaepernick took over as the starting quarterback halfway through the season.
That's ridiculous for a variety of reasons. Foremost among them is because the 49ers' obligation is to make themselves better heading into next season, not to appease Alex Smith or anyone else.
Teams will always pay to deal for a starting quarterback. Smith has proven himself to be a very good, relatively inexpensive option (based on what the typical quarterback makes) and a great teammate; additionally, he will be just 29 years old next season.
The 49ers will have options, though how good they are will ultimately determine the direction they take with Smith. Working in their favor is it sounds like there will be a demand to get him. One way or the other, it would be a shock if Smith was not dealt prior to the draft in April.