Post-surgery in­fec­tion raises ques­tions about QB Smith’s fu­ture.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY MATTHEW PARAS

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-old’s timetable for re­cov­ery. NFL Net­work re­ported it was too soon spec­u­late, while ESPN re­ported there’s con­cern Smith’s in­jury could be “ca­reer-end­ing. “

The Red­skins is­sued a state­ment Thurs­day, ask­ing peo­ple to honor Smith’s 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 Alex’s wife, his dad, his mom not to re­ally go into any de­tail on this process,” coach Jay Gru­den said. “That’s to re­spect their pri­vacy and that’s what I’m go­ing to do. I think when the time is right, Alex will ad­dress the me­dia and we’ll go from there.”

Smith suf­fered his sea­so­nend­ing 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 Theis­mann’s 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 team’s doc­tors.

On Thanks­giv­ing, FOX’s 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, “We’ll 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, that’s usu­ally go­ing to give you a clean break

across. But if you twist it, that’s 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 didn’t 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.”

Smith’s in­jury also has ram­i­fi­ca­tions re­lated to the team’s salary cap. If Smith can­not pass a phys­i­cal by the fifth day of the league’s next cal­en­dar year that starts in March — which he likely won’t — 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 Smith’s $27 mil­lion sign­ing bonus.

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

“It’s tough,” cor­ner­back Josh Nor­man said of Smith’s in­jury. “It’s re­ally tough. Any­thing with that sit­u­a­tion is tough. I think he is han­dling it the best way he can . ... We’re all say­ing our prayers though.”

Smith

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Red­skins quar­ter­back Alex Smith is en­ti­tled to $71 mil­lion guar­an­teed if he can’t pass a phys­i­cal by the fifth day of the NFL’s cal­en­dar year, which starts in March.

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