The Washington Redskins aren’t yet ready to say when quarterback Alex Smith might return. They also know they don’t need to say a whole lot right now, and their eventual actions this offseason in free agency and the draft will reveal their thinking on their quarterbacks.
Meanwhile, they’re more confident about another player for 2019: linebacker Reuben Foster. Domestic violence charges against Foster were dropped earlier this month. The league was still investigating his situation to determine whether Foster would be suspended.
“I think he’ll fit in very well into our defense as a player,” Redskins president Bruce Allen told reporters at the Senior Bowl, via ESPN’s Alisha Miller. “I don’t know why we would expect a suspension, but we’ll let the league finish it.”
As for Smith, he attended a Washington Wizards game Monday, still on crutches and with an external fixator attached to the brace on his right leg. He has endured multiple surgeries after suffering a compound fracture and faces a long road to recovery. There’s no guarantee he will return to the NFL, and it’s likely a long shot for him to play in 2019.
But the Redskins don’t need to decide just yet whether Smith is in their plans this fall.
“We don’t have to make that decision right now,” said Allen, conducting a news conference for the first time since the end of the 2014 season, though he has done one-on-one interviews since that time. “We have some time for free agency and obviously some time for the draft.
“He’s moving around and well on his way to a recovery.”
But the Redskins are aware of the reality of Smith’s situation. That’s why they are making plans to sign another quarterback to pair with veteran Colt McCoy. It could be someone via free agency, though they only have about $20 million in available cap space. If they go this route, they’d likely add someone on the lower end of the salary spectrum, such as Josh Johnson. Or they could pursue a mid-level QB, such as Teddy Bridgewater.
The most likely option would be to sign a low-end end free agent and draft a quarterback. In which round they’d select one remains to be seen, and that could be determined on what they learn about Smith’s prospects.
Allen told reporters that they believed the team was close to playoff contention, but because of Smith’s situation, they’re not the same team that was 6-3 at one point last year. Smith was a pivotal part of that.
But for now, the focus for Washington remains on Smith’s well-being. Allen said hearing from fans and also players has helped.
“It’s a tough thing for him and his family, but all the love and care has helped him quite a bit,” Allen said. “We’ll see where it goes. We’re optimistic. If anyone can come back, it’s Alex. I’m sure he wanted to shoot hoops at the game yesterday. We’ll see.”
As for Foster, if he indeed does play for Washington, he’d occupy one of the starting spots inside. He’s not a playcaller, so he’d have to fill the role currently held by either Zach Brown -- who was benched late in the season -- or Shaun Dion Hamilton. The latter is a rookie, and a former teammate of Foster's at Alabama who could also play the other linebacker spot. The Redskins could save $5.75 million by cutting Brown this offseason.
But, as with Smith, there’s more to learn with Foster.
“Reuben has demonstrated since he’s been with us that he wants to play football and he wants to do things the right way,” Allen said. “He wants to be a valuable member of the Redskins not only on the field, but off the field as well.”
“The league is still finishing their investigation of it. We finished our investigation with it. He’s working hard, he’s healthy and doing the things that we have mandated he do to ever wear the burgundy and gold.”
Allen said the team wasn't surprised the charges were dropped.
“We had a good sense who [Foster] was and we did our own quick investigation of some of the facts that we have heard,” Allen said. “We’re fortunate that the outcome was somewhat anticipated.”