There was good news on Monday night.
Redskins quarterback Alex Smith made a public appearance at Capital One Arena – his first since fracturing his leg in November – and seemed to be in good spirits. What remained disconcerting was the metal contraption around his right leg that portends more surgery and recovery time and uncertainty of his future.
"I appreciate the love and care from all of our fans that have reached out to him, and NFL players from around the league with this injury," Redskins president Bruce Allen said Tuesday in Mobile, Ala. "It's a tough thing for him and his family, and all the care has helped him quite a bit. We'll see where it goes, we're optimistic. If anyone can come back its Alex. I'm sure he wanted to shoot hoops at the game yesterday but we'll see."
Allen, who spoke for close to 20 minutes at Ladd Peebles Stadium, in between Senior Bowl practices, declared that he wasn't a doctor, which is to say that he couldn't properly explain any kind of timeline for the quarterback's return, should Smith choose to do so.
But the lack of certainty means the Redskins must do their due diligence when it comes to finding someone to replace Smith. The Senior Bowl is a good starting point, a chance to see numerous quarterbacks face some of the best college athletes in the nation in a competitive setting one last time.
"We don't have to make that decision right now," Allen said of the team's plans at quarterback. "We have some time until free agency, and some time until the draft. I think Doug [Williams] and his group will rank all the players and we will try to build a winning team for 2019."
Allen added: "Colt [McCoy's] going to be ready to go come the start of the offseason program and I'm sure he's looking forward to competing for the starting job."
The Redskins do have multiple quarterbacks to watch in Mobile, including Duke's Daniel Jones, Missouri's Drew Lock, West Virginia's Will Grier and Penn State's (and Ashburn, Va. native) Trace McSorely, among others.
Last offseason several veteran quarterbacks were available during free agency. This year there aren't as many, but pursuing one is still an option for the Redskins should they want to take a non-quarterback prospect in the first round. A lot of that depends on which of their own free agents they want to re-sign, including linebacker Preston Smith, wide receiver Jamison Crowder and running back Adrian Peterson.
"Eric [Schaffer] has started some conversations," Allen said. "Usually those heat up closer to the Combine, in that period, when teams start to tamper, when other teams start to tamper. But, he's started some dialogue, it's early."
In terms of other ways to free up cap space, the Redskins may also decide to cut or restructure salaries, but Allen believes those kinds of decisions won't take place until later next month.
"You'll get a clearer picture on that around the Combine," Allen said. "We're going to evaluate the players, we're still finishing the evaluations for this season on our current players. Alex Santos and Doug have already begun to rank the free agents available, and then we'll see who fits into what we want to do offensively and defensively. We'll know our cap room much better after that."
The Redskins still have some coaching vacancies to fill as well, and head coach Jay Gruden is determining who he will add to his staff. These are likely all decisions that will be made over the next several weeks as the team sorts out its future.
"Well that'll be up to Jay," Allen said. "He's doing a very good job of talking to people, getting some new ideas. It could be anything from a practice schedule to a new defensive coverage, to a play action pass. That's why the more people he talks to, the more ideas he get. He'll blend it all together and we'll have a final announcement."