KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After 16 NFL seasons, free-agent quarterback Alex Smith, who started for the Chiefs from 2013-17, is retiring from the NFL.
Smith, who most recently played for the Washington Football Team, made the announcement Monday in a video on Instagram in which he thanked the fans, organizations and teammates he has played with during his career.
“I want to say thank you for believing in me and thank you for helping me believe in myself and the impossible,” Smith said.
Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, suffered a gruesome leg injury in November 2018. He suffered a compound, spiral fracture of the lower leg, which became badly infected and nearly killed him.
He was chosen as the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year last season by The Associated Press and Pro Football Writers Association.
Smith returned to the field last season after 17 surgeries and nearly two years, going 5-3 as the starter and leading Washington to an NFC East title and first postseason appearance since 2015.
Smith spent his first seven NFL seasons in San Francisco, helping lead the team to consecutive NFC West titles in 2011 and 2012.
Led by Smith, the 49ers lost in overtime to the New York Giants during the NFC Championship game in 2011.
Smith got injured midway through the 2012 season and lost his starting job to Colin Kaepernick, who led San Francisco to the Super Bowl that season.
Smith was traded to the Chiefs in 2013, joining the franchise at the same time as Andy Reid. He helped lead the Chiefs to the playoffs in four of five seasons as starter, including the franchise's first playoff win in 22 years in 2015.
“He’s just a heck of a person, had a great career, played a number of years here with different teams and everywhere he went, he made them better," Reid said Monday during a press conference when asked about Smith's retirement. "I texted him a while back (saying) if he gets into coaching, I get first dibs on him."
One year after drafting Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs traded Smith to Washington in 2018 for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a 2018 third-round draft pick.
Mahomes credits the season he spent learning under Smith for helping make him a better quarterback.
“Just a tremendous guy and obviously a great player,” Mahomes said during a virtual press conference Monday. “(He) dealt with adversity throughout his career and also seemed to come on top and be better from it. Someone that's dealt with different coaches, he’s dealt with different systems and he’s always had success. Obviously, with the injury that he had, to be able to come back and lead his team into the playoffs showed the type of man that he is, the type of team player that he is and I’m just grateful for the time that I had with him that really developed me to be the quarterback I am today.”
Smith appeared in 174 career games, including 167 games. He finished 99-67-1 in his career as a starting QB, including 50-26 with the Chiefs.
Smith, who was 2-5 in his career as a starting quarterback in the playoffs, threw for 35,650 yards wth 199 touchdowns and 109 interceptions. He also rushed for 2,604 yards and 15 touchdowns in his NFL career.