Another team has entered the sweepstakes to land embattled San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, as the Arizona Cardinals have showed an interest in Smith and will pursue a trade that would land him in Arizona.
According to Cardinals writer Kent Somers:
It’s unknown how serious the Cardinals are about trading for a quarterback for the second time in less than two years. But they are intrigued by Smith’s experience, intelligence and talents, according to the source. They believe much of his struggles early in his career can be attributed to changes in coaches and offensive systems.
Smith is a fit for the Cardinals, but as Somers points out later in his article, Arizona is looking at all their options and are not going to zero in on Smith as their only option moving forward. Many draft experts have been penciling in quarterbacks Tyler Wilson and Matt Barkley at No. 7 overall in their mocks but it’s beginning to look like the Cardinals are going to look at upgrading their offensive line instead.
Free agency isn’t going to be their friend when it comes to finding a replacement for Kevin Kolb, which means the Cardinals will likely pursue a trade for Smith if they look at current NFL quarterbacks. However, trading for Smith complicates Arizona’s salary cap situation as the Cardinals would have to pay Kolb $6 million if they parted ways with him or $9 million if they keep him.
Trading for Smith means the Cardinals would be absorbing Smith’s $8.5 million salary meaning Arizona would have roughly $20 million tied up in two quarterbacks.
Jacksonville, Cleveland and Kansas City have all expressed interest in trading for Smith as well, which means the plot has only thickened. The 49ers need to trade Smith by March 15th otherwise he’s owed $1 million bonus. On April 1st Smith’s $8.5 million contract becomes guaranteed meaning a team would like to trade for him before then and then re-sign him to a new deal before the guarantee kicks in.