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Alex Smith Retiring; Cowboys Lose Popular Backup QB Option

If you had your heart set on Alex Smith as the Dallas Cowboys’ backup quarterback in 2021, we’ve got some bad news for you. The 16-year veteran announced his retirement today and took the best remaining free agent QB off the market.

Smith, the first-overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, experienced a surge in popularity and respect after his recent comeback from a career and even life-threatening injury in 2018. Alex’s return as Washington’s starting QB in 2020 brought stability and leadership that helped the Football Team win the NFC East.

With last year’s veteran backup Andy Dalton moving to the Chicago this offseason, Dallas was potentially in the market for another experienced passer to go behind Dak Prescott. Smith was the consensus favorite for that role among Cowboys fans.

There are still some veteran options available such as Robert Griffin III, A.J. McCarron, and others. But the perceived margin between these free agents and Alex Smith is a wide one; Smith has had far more recent success and was arguably a starting candidate for some NFL teams.

Alex was also a popular option given the similarities between his 2018 injury and what Dak Prescott suffered last year. While Smith’s case proved more severe, he could have potentially been a good advisor and Prescott make his own comeback next season.

The Cowboys currently have a trio of unproven in-house contenders for the backup QB job. With hardly enough playing time between them to form real opinions, Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci, and Cooper Rush are the only other passers on the roster behind Prescott today.

Of course, Dallas could still add more QB talent through next week’s NFL Draft. There also could be some moderate remaining waves of free agency in the 4-5 weeks following the draft.

Unfortunately, whether the Cowboys ride with current talent or add new contenders before training camp, none of them are likely to inspire the same confidence as Alex Smith would have.

While he never did don The Star, and even played for our historical rival, Smith gave the entire NFL world one of the few feelgood stories of the 2020 season. We at Inside The Star wish him the best in retirement and hope he continues to inspire others in his next chapter.

What do you think?


Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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  1. Hate to hear that AS is retiring! If the boys could have signed him our back up QB position would have been rock solid! Teams often overlook the back up QB position but in my opinion if a team is trying to get to a super bowl you need a capable back up !

  2. H
    Alex Smith can no longer complete a game without his calf muscle freezing up on him…it showed last year. He is unable to complete any longer and every NFL team knows this. Hence, he is unsigned.

  3. I still think AJ McCarron would be a very solid addition to a QB room. I think he could step in and start for 3-4 games and be efficient, if not spectacular, if ever needed.

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