David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Free Agency 2013: Alex Smith To Seek Release?

With over a month until NFL free agency kicks off, rumors are already beginning to swirl.

This one is about QB Alex Smith.

With rookie QB Colin Kaepernick set to lead the San Francisco 49ers into the Super Bowl this weekend, Smith is the odd man out. He is due to earn $8.5 million in 2013, with $1 million guaranteed now and the balance guaranteed as of April 1. Since Kaepernick is the man going forward, there is no way the team will pay Smith that much money to hold a clipboard.

It is widely expected that the 49ers will try to trade Smith. That is something they won’t be able to do until the start of the new league year which consequently, is also when 2012 contracts expire and free agency begins.

According to Pro Football Talk, Smith will ask the 49ers to release him before the start of free agency.

It is a shrewd move by Smith but it may be a smart one.

If Smith is traded by the 49ers, he has no say in where he ends up. The good news, however, is that his contract is traded along with him so he will be guaranteed all that money from his new team.

Trading Smith is also good for the 49ers because they don’t want to pay up. The problem for the team is that they may not be able to trade Smith.

It isn’t that teams won’t be interested in getting Smith but the fact is, the rest of the league has the 49ers over a barrel. Other GMs know that the 49ers will have to release Smith if they can’t find a trade partner. If Smith is released, the team can then get him for “free” in free agency and construct a contract that is more to the team’s liking.

For Smith, being released before free agency is a gamble because he isn’t guaranteed to get as big of a contract as he’d be guaranteed if he is traded. The advantages for Smith are twofold. For starters, as a free agent he will have more say on where he ends up. Smith will also enjoy being a big name free agent in a market that favors him. Much like when the Chiefs signed CB Stanford Routt last offseason, if Smith is released before the market is flooded with the other free agent QBs, he will have more value.

But will the 49ers play ball?

They might. Smith has been a model citizen in San Francisco and the team may want to do him a good turn by cutting him lose. Smith’s chances might be improved if the 49ers win the Super Bowl this weekend, if not just because the front office will be in a really, really good mood.

My guess is that the 49ers will put out feelers shortly after the Super Bowl. If some team really wants Smith and wants to guarantee they can land him, they’d need to do it via trade. If a team can convince the 49ers that they will deal for Smith shortly after the new league year begins, the organization may take the deal.

It is a bit of a complicated game of chess for all parties involved. I’d wager that Smith just doesn’t offer enough security for a team to make a trade for him when they know he is going to possibly be released. I’d wager the 49ers will either grant Smith his wish to be released early or will try to trade him and fail, thus releasing him in March.

Now for the question we have ll been waiting for.

Do you think the Chiefs should pursue QB Alex Smith? Smith had been playing very well the last couple of years under Jim Harbaugh. While that may embolden some KC fans to want the Chiefs to go after Smith, at the same time, it is important to remember that despite his good play, the 49ers benched Smith in the middle of a Super Bowl run in favor of Kaepernick.

If the Chiefs did pursue Smith, how would you like them to do it? Trade or free agency?

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