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New England Patriots

If the Patriots want to shore up their quarterback situation, they can start now. It's believed that Smith still wants to play. He'd be a great fit for Belichick due to his veteran savvy and short-area accuracy. Assuming he's not off the cliff, his mere competency would give the Patriots offense a chance to greatly improve upon 2020. Ideally he's paired with a young, high-upside QB, though, like a high draft pick.

Veteran quarterback and reigning Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith certainly had a market before he made the decision to retire from the National Football League earlier this week.

A market that reportedly included the New England Patriots, according to Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop.

“Still, Jacksonville offered a contract, though Jags GM Trent Baalke wanted Smith to sign a special waiver for his leg and suggested any team would request the same,” Bishop wrote. “The Texans wanted him too, but their quarterback situation remains in flux. Smith also heard from the Patriots, Eagles and Colts. But everyone had questions, conditions. He realized that only one path remained to leave football on his terms.

“All those months searching for a perfect football ending had borne an unexpected discovery: He already had one. Everyone from Theismann to West said the comeback player of the year award should be named after Alex Smith.”

The fact that there was a market for the 37-year-old isn’t all that surprising. In action for eight games with Washington last year, Smith completed 66.7 percent of his passes, and totaled 1,582 passing yards with six touchdowns and eight picks. He’s your classic veteran, accurate passing quarterback who doesn’t crush you with brutal turnovers. He’s as safe as can be. But it also isn’t a surprise that that market included a ton of waivers and special conditions given Smith’s leg issues.

For a team like the Patriots, a low-risk, high-reward move for Smith would’ve made all the sense in the world had the team decided to move on from either Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham. But it’s nearly May and both quarterbacks remain on the roster, and Newton even signed a one-year extension for another New England run despite a 7-8 record as their starter.

But in the end, Smith, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2005 NFL Draft, decided to move on from the NFL after a 16-season career that included a 99-67-1 record as a starter between the 49ers, Chiefs, and Washington Football Team.

And though Smith ultimately opted not to come to New England (if the interest was indeed legit), the Patriots will enter next week’s 2021 NFL Draft with the No. 15 overall pick, and have been linked to countless quarterbacks.