It was a name that hovered in the background for some time. Alex Smith was a really good quarterback at one point in time. He had a career year in 2017, throwing 26 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Then he was unceremoniously traded to Washington to pave the way for Patrick Mahomes. Then he suffered one of the most gruesome leg injuries in NFL history. A lot of people thought he’d never play again. Now he’s Comeback Player of the Year after helping the Football Team make the playoffs last season.

Sadly his incredible story wasn’t enough to save his job. In need of salary cap space and desiring a fresh start at quarterback, word has come out Washington will release Smith in the coming days. That will make the 36-year old a free agent for the first time in his NFL career. Already people are surmising how he’d make a great backup for several teams.

That may sound good to them. Not to him though.

Don’t think for a second that Smith is content with just being a backup. He isn’t wired that way. The guy wants to play football. He wouldn’t have gone through everything he did from two years of rehab to almost losing his leg just to survive as a backup. The man still thinks he can start in the NFL. This past season offered some validation to that belief. These comments from his interview with GQ magazine are more proof.

“But I did get to go do football. I made a ton of gains through the year, and I still feel like I have more left to go gain. I still feel like there’s stuff for me to go get out there, and get better.

But this offseason, there’s a bunch I want to go do off the field. But football-wise, I got more left. I got more to get there too. So I really do really wanna get in the meat of this offseason and see where I’m at and push it. I want to push my body harder. I want to push my leg harder. The harder I push it, it does respond. So I kind of want to go do that.”

So rest assured his entry to free agency will be focused on one thing. Finding a situation where he’ll have an opportunity to at least compete for the starting job. Like it or not, his eyes are virtually guaranteed to settle directly on Chicago. They only have one quarterback under contract in Nick Foles, who was Smith’s backup in Kansas City in 2016. Not to mention the most obvious connection of all.

A reunion with Matt Nagy no doubt interests Alex Smith

The connection to the Bears head coach is so obvious. The two men were together for five seasons from 2013 to 2017. During that time Nagy was Smith’s quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator. They have a tight relationship. Nagy has sung praises for his former QB on multiple occasions. A relationship like that matters in situations like this.

Would he be their first choice as a replacement for Mitch Trubisky? Of course not. All signs point to the Bears being all-in on pursuing Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson. Both of whom remain potential trade candidates. Yet the reality is there is a possibility Nagy doesn’t get anybody of note. So this would force him to make a choice. Go with a second-tier veteran or take his chances in the draft. Having Alex Smith on the table certainly swings the pendulum in the direction of the former.

It wouldn’t be a difficult sell.

Smith won’t be commanding big money on the market. He’d come cheap. For the Bears who have well-documented salary cap problems, this is important. He is on the older side but appears to still have enough gas in the tank to survive one more season. The guy went 5-1 as a starter for Washington despite uneven production. He knows how to manage games and protect the football. If push comes to shove, don’t think for a second Nagy wouldn’t consider making that move.