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Quarterback Alex Smith nearly signed with Jacksonville Jaguars before deciding to retire

NFL: Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars and veteran quarterback Alex Smith had mutual interest this offseason. Smith told ESPN’s Adam Schefter — speaking on Schefter’s podcast — that he came very close to signing with the Jaguars before ultimately deciding to retire in April.

“I was incredibly close (to signing with Jacksonville),” Smith told Schefter. “Just honestly speaking, speaking frankly, that was the place that I was really intrigued by, really really interested by. Obviously, it would have been crazy to get to play for Coach (Urban) Meyer again, sandwiched between 16 years. I’m still obviously so pumped for him and this opportunity, and curious like everybody else to see how this goes. He is such a unique person and unique coach. I think he brings so much to the table and I’m anxious to see if it translates to the NFL Level — I think it will.

“And (I have) a bunch of mutual friends with Trevor Lawrence as well and I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. So it was this unique opportunity to step into that role. I worked with Trent Baalke as well, the GM there. So, there were so many connections, and I felt like it was calling out to me. I think in the end, just trying to weigh-out everything — you know, my kids, moving my family one more time, all of those things — obviously, ultimately decided to step away.”

Schefter then asked Smith, “If you wanted, you could have signed there, the job would’ve been yours, you would have worked with Trevor Lawrence, correct?” Smith simply replied, “Yep,” and called the opportunity “amazing,” but in the end, he felt it was time to step away from the game.

Smith would have served a leadership/mentoring role for rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars. Jacksonville’s quarterback room currently features Lawrence, Gardner Minshew II, C.J. Beathard and Jake Luton. Beathard signed with the Jaguars in late March, and while the timeline wasn’t specified on the podcast, it makes you think that if Smith was Jacksonville’s first target, the team likely wouldn’t have signed Beathard had Smith decided to play another season.

Smith has an obvious connection to Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, as Meyer was Smith’s college coach at Utah for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Smith and Meyer won the BCS Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 2005. Smith would then go on to be selected by the San Francisco 49ers as the No. 1 overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft.

After spending his first eight seasons with the 49ers, and battling through some injuries (including missing the entire 2008 season), Smith was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013 for a second-round pick that year and conditional draft pick in 2014. He would spend five seasons with the Chiefs, including three Pro Bowl appearances (2013, 2016 and 2017) before Patrick Mahomes eventually assumed the starting role. Kansas City traded Smith to Washington in early 2018.

Smith went out to become the starter for Washington, but suffered a gruesome leg injury in November 2018 against the Houston Texans. Smith — who almost lost his life, or at least his leg in the aftermath of the injury — missed the rest of the 2018 season and the entire 2019 season. However, five weeks into the 2020 season, he was able to return to the field. Smith played in eight games, with six starts this past season. He completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions. He helped lead Washington to an NFC East Division title and playoff appearance, but missed the playoff game against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Smith was honored as the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year after returning from his traumatic injury. In 174 career games (168 starts), Smith completed 62.6 percent of his passes (3,250 completions on 5,193 attempts) for 35,650 yards, 199 touchdowns, 109 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 86.9, according to Pro Football Reference. Smith also rushed for 2,604 yards on 580 attempts (4.5 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns.

Smith certainly would have been an interesting addition to the new-look Jaguars under Meyer, but it wasn’t meant to be. Smith also mentioned on Schefter’s podcast that he is looking into potentially going into broadcasting, but for now just wants to spend time with his family.