al smith
Alex Smith #11 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball for a nine yard gain during the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. Will Vragovic/Getty Images

The Washington football team was 6-3 through nine games and looked poised to win the NFC East for the first time since 2012. However, starting quarterback Alex Smith’s gruesome leg injury kicked off a series of events that ultimately led to the team starting four different quarterbacks on the year.

Though Smith was hurt midway through the regular season, it appears he might not play at all next year. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported that Washington is preparing for life without Smith in 2019, as he tries to recover from post-surgery complications that threatened to end his career.

Team president Bruce Allen expressed optimism that Smith would play again someday earlier this month, but he did not specifically say Smith would play in the 2019 season.

Smith was the team’s prized offseason acquisition last year. They got him in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs after a 2017 season in which Smith threw for more than 4,000 yards and led the NFL in passer rating. They then signed the 34-year-old quarterback through the 2022 season; his $20.4 million salary cap hit next year is the largest on the team.

Smith was not spectacular through nine games for Washington in 2018, but he was solid. He threw for 2,180 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions while guiding the team to a 6-3 record.

Washington needs to figure out whether or not Smith can play in 2019 soon, as the team’s quarterback situation behind him is sub-optimal. Veteran backup Colt McCoy is the only other QB under contract, with mid-season pickups Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson hitting free agency.

Given their situation, it should be no surprise that there is speculation about if they will draft a top quarterback or go after one of the best available veterans in the offseason. Washington is one of the betting favorites to land Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, for example.