Alex Smith battling infection, raising questions about his future

December 7, 2018

ASHBURN Alex Smith is battling an infection stemming from multiple leg surgeries after the Redskins quarterback fractured his fibula and tibia last month, raising new questions about his playing future.

Smith, according to multiple reports, remains in the hospital and it is unclear how the infection will affect the 34-year-olds timetable for recovery. NFL Network reported it was too soon speculate, while ESPN reported theres concern Smiths injury could be career-ending.

The Redskins issued a statement Thursday, asking people to honor Smiths family request to respect their privacy. Although this is a serious injury, Alex and his family remain strong, the statement partially read.

I was asked by Alexs wife, his dad, his mom not to really go into any detail on this process, coach Jay Gruden said. Thats to respect their privacy and thats what Im going to do. I think when the time is right, Alex will address the media and well go from there.

Smith suffered his season-ending leg injury Nov. 18 against the Houston Texans when J.J. Watt and Kareem Jackson sacked the quarterback, whose leg snapped in a gruesome fashion reminiscent to Joe Theismanns broken leg 33 years earlier.

Smith required immediate surgery, but Gruden said the operation went well. Gruden estimated Smith would be out 6-8 months, based on feedback from the teams doctors.

On Thanksgiving, FOXs Jay Glazer reported Smith would not be ready for the start of the season and needed 8-10 months to return. When asked about the report, Gruden said he was still working off the original timetable, but added, Well just have to wait and see, make sure that everything goes OK.

Complicating matters, Smith reportedly had suffered a spiral fracture instead of a clean break.

The spiral has more to do with where the energy is coming from for the break, said Dr. Alexis Colvin, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. If you have a stick and you crack it in half, thats usually going to give you a clean break across. But if you twist it, thats going to give you a spiral break.

Running back Adrian Peterson said Thursday that a lot of members from the team visited Smith last week. He added he and his teammates told Smith that they were praying for him and wishing him the best.

We all didnt fit in the room, but we had the opportunity to meet him, Peterson said. He was able to get out of the room and come down and meet us and stuff. It was a good time.

Smiths injury also has ramifications related to the teams salary cap. If Smith cannot pass a physical by the fifth day of the leagues next calendar year that starts in March which he likely wont then the quarterback is entitled to $71 million guaranteed of his upcoming four-year, $94 million extension. That number had previously been $55 million.

That makes moving on from Smith near impossible. Salary cap analyst J.I. Halsell, who worked for the Redskins from 2007-08, said, if the team cuts Smith before June 1, then that would carry a $52.6 million hit in dead money on its salary cap.

If Washington elects to cut Smith after June 1, then the team would carry a dead hit of $20.4 million in 2019 and $32.4 million in 2020. Those numbers are based on a combination of his base salary for 2019 and 2020 and his accelerated signing bonus.

Even if Smith is forced to retire because of the injury, Halsell said Smith will still earn his money, though the team could opt to seek some cap relief by recovering some of Smiths $27 million signing bonus.

But as of now, the Redskins have shown no signs of wanting to move on from Smith. In the meantime, theyll try to win Sundays game with veteran Mark Sanchez under center.

Its tough, cornerback Josh Norman said of Smiths injury. Its really tough. Anything with that situation is tough. I think he is handling it the best way he can. ... Were all saying our prayers though.

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