It was at one time thought that Alex Smith would be the most attractive free agent QB on the market this offseason. At this time it was believed as fact that the 49ers would grant the former No. 1 overall pick his release and he would be free to seek out a new contract and a new team. But with a weak QB draft class and a QB needy division rival in Arizona the 49ers decided to hold on to Smith, at least for now, to explore trade possibilities.

But, I’ve gotten the feeling recently that Smith’s once high trade value is dropping quickly, with QB needy teams looking in other directions. The Buffalo Bills who had shown some interest in Smith, have since resigned Tavaris Jackson and made a statement that both Jackson and current started Ryan Fitzpatrick will stay with the team, likely to provide competition for a rookie QB.

The Chiefs, who I had pegged as a good landing spot for Alex have inquired about Nick Foles, who obviously worked with new Chiefs coach Andy Reid last year. Many analysts also believe the Chiefs could take Geno Smith with the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft on the assumption that starting LT Brandon Albert will be resigned.

The Jaguars new GM David Caldwell released a statement that he was interested in building around former first round pick Blaine Gabbert. With the team still rebuilding in a tough AFC South the team would likely rather keep it’s draft picks. Should Alex Smith get released, I would look for the Jags to reevaluate the situation. (With MJD in the final year of his contract and the emergence of Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon improved QB play could go a long way towards helping the struggling Jags.)

The Eagles, who also at one point showed some interest in Smith, have since resigned Michael Vick removing the need for Smith, and added QB Dennis Dixon, which at least opens the door to the possibility of trading current back-up Nick Foles.

The Browns emerge as a strong candidate, stuck with a QB they don’t want and one of Alex Smith’s many former coordinators Norv Turner calling the plays. But the Browns have plenty of holes to fill and may be reluctant to surrender any draft picks. The Browns are in line to have plenty of cap space and if they fill holes quickly through free agency, may pull the trigger, but I doubt they’ll be in any hurry, as they’d probably win a bidding war if they truly believe Smith could be their guy.

Then there’s the Jets, who I just don’t see being able to commit to Alex Smith. The Jets want competition for Sanchez, Smith wants to start…it’s not really a perfect fit. The Jets are also one of the few teams for whom Alex Smith’s current cap number could create a problem. The team is already pressed tight under the cap and paying $8 million to Mark Sanchez with lots of holes to fill. Spending another $7 million on Smith just wouldn’t seem right.

The Vikings have also come up as a landing spot, but unless Percy Harvin makes an (unlikely) push to bring Alex Smith to Minnesota, I just can’t see it. Christian Ponder showed growth towards the end of last season and I think he needs to be allowed to build off of that. Yes, Adrian Peterson put the team on his back (especially once Harvin went down) but Ponder made some big throws against Green Bay to help clinch that playoff spot and Ponder should be much more confident coming into the 2013 season coming off that playoff berth, than he was coming into this season (fresh off a less than impressive rookie campaign that netted the team the third pick in last year’d draft.) 

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