MOBILE, Ala. — Redskins tight end Alex Smith isn’t ready to retire, but he’s taking measures to prepare himself for life after his career ends. It will still involves football but in a different role. Smith was at the Senior Bowl all week with the Scouting Academy, an online learning management program to help teach the NFL from a scout’s perspective.
Smith said the program was being offered by the NFLPA, and it’s a direction he wants to take his life once he officially turns in his retirement paperwork. He’s had aspirations of being a general manager and understood that most general managers began as scouts before they climbed up the front office ladder.
“I just it’s just over the years being on teams and seeing the way different teams were constructed, seeing the different players that have come through,” Smith said. “I’ve been on successful teams, I’ve been on unsuccessful teams and understanding why those teams are successful. Those are things that are always of interest to me, being able to be the one actually calling those shots and putting those players in place. I always did it in my head just seeing guys around the league and saying, ‘Oh, he’d be a good guy.’ Just evaluating talent on my own doing film study, trying to see how would I put a team together and those type of things.”
The program, which lasts 16 weeks, offers a course every quarter, but it’s the first time the Scouting Academy has partnered up with the Senior Bowl to allow people like Smith to scout draft prospects in Mobile. Smith also spent time at the East-West Shrine game last week, which was held where he lives in Tampa, Fla.
The 11-year veteran waited until Week 15 before he was signed by an NFL team. The Redskins brought in Smith after they lost Derek Carrier for the season with torn ligaments in his right knee. He previously played under Redskins Coach Jay Gruden with the Cincinnati Bengals, and they needed an experienced veteran to step in as Jordan Reed’s backup during the Redskins’ playoff push. He played four games, including Washington’s first-round playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, and finished with one catch for 16 yards.
Smith, who will become an unrestricted free agent, was cut by the New Orleans Saints during training camp in August and began taking steps to prepare for his life as a scout in the following months before the Redskins called in December. He hopes to be with a team near the beginning of organized team activities, but the 33-year-old doesn’t want to wait by the phone that long again to receive an opportunity.
“Just from training from February until literally November, I was training on my own back home, it gets tiring. It wears on you. You’re paying for training and a lot of guys just don’t want to keep extending that and drawing that out. It’s different when you’re with an offseason team, and you’re working out with the team as opposed to being at home by yourself. That’s what I experienced – it’s difficult to stay on that grind by yourself that whole time.”
As for his assessment on the Redskins from a scout’s perspective, Smith said Washington was put together very well in 2015. The Redskins finished 9-7 and claimed the NFC East division title for the first time since 2012. Smith thinks it’s a talented roster with good leaders. He also emphasized that it was a good vibe in the locker during his brief tenure.
“A lot of times that gets missed is having a cohesive locker room,” Smith said. “Everybody doesn’t have to be best friends but guys are willing to be in there. They’ll hang out after practice and having those types of things, it builds camaraderie and builds a tight knit group.”