Washington Football Team released quarterback Alex Smith, who won the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award, on Friday to help the franchise win the NFC East.

Washington, who went between 7 and 9 in 2020, is looking to upgrade quarterback this off-season. With Smith turning 37 in May and $ 24.4 million count towards the salary cap, a release was inevitable.

This move saves Washington $ 14.9 million versus the $ 8.6 million cap in dead money. Due to his injury and an insurance policy for Smith, Washington was able to recoup $ 1.1 million in prorated bonus money over the last three years of his contract.

Smith had two years left on a contract he signed after Washington acted for him in 2018. He made it clear to Washington that he wanted to keep playing.

But his tenure in Washington is determined by the fractured right fibula and tibia he suffered in November 2018, and the subsequent comeback with his first game action on October 11th. In between, Smith had operations 17 times to fight infection and chose not to have his leg amputated.

Washington kept him on the list in part because he was too expensive to be released. But it wasn’t sure whether he’d finished playing either. Although many doubted he could do it – both inside and outside the organization – some people with the franchise often said, “If someone can, Alex can.”

After an ESPN documentary aired last spring, some members of the organization wondered if a doctor would even allow Smith to play, but he passed all tests and was cleared. With each milestone, Smith had to prove he could take the next step – be on the field for 11v11 work; create the roster; play; beginning.

He did all of this and after benching quarterback Dwayne Haskins and injuring Kyle Allen, Smith started six games in 2020. Washington went 5-1 on those starts. During his three years here, Washington went 11-5 in games that Smith started and 6-27 with everyone else at quarterback.

However, Smith told GQ Magazine that his comeback threw a “wrench” into the team’s plans and that he didn’t feel wanted by the organization last summer.

They didn’t see it, didn’t want me there, didn’t want me to be part of it, didn’t want me to be on the team, in the squad, didn’t want to give me a chance, “Smith told the magazine.” Mind you, it was a whole new regime, they came in; I’m like the leftovers and I’m hurt and I’m that liability.

“Hell no, they didn’t want me there. At this point, as you can imagine, I couldn’t have cared less about all of that. Like it or not, I’ll admit that’s a try at this point.”

Smith hasn’t said with certainty that he will return for the 2021 season, but sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that he wanted to keep playing.

Smith’s worth exceeded his stats last season – he threw six touchdowns on eight interceptions. His calming manner, experience and leadership proved valuable to his young teammates. Washington started rookie Antonio Gibson running back and of his five best receivers, only one competed last season with more than 58 career receptions – journeyman Dontrelle Inman. If Washington didn’t want to produce a lot, it would at least need someone who could manage the game like Smith did.

Smith suffered a bruise in his calf in the first half of a December 13 win against the San Francisco 49ers, preventing him from playing in the second half. He missed the next two games – both defeats – and struggled in the season finale partly because of the injury. Smith advocated playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Washington’s playoff game, but he wasn’t mobile enough for the coaches’ likes and was inactive.

Smith, number 1 in the 2005 draft of the 49ers, has started 167 career games. His team’s record in these games is 99-67-1. He spent seven years with the 49ers who sold him to the Kansas City Chiefs. Smith spent five years with the Chiefs – they were 1-4 in the playoffs with him. Kansas City designed Patrick Mahomes in the first round in 2017 and swapped Smith for cornerback Kendall Fuller after that season and one election in the third round to Washington.

Washington recently extended quarterback Taylor Heinicke to a two-year contract with incentives valued at up to $ 8.75 million. Kyle Allen is an exclusive agent with no rights and is expected to return. It also has Steven Montez, who signed as an unoccupied free agent last off-season.