Jan 3, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith (11) passes the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Washington officially releases QB Alex Smith

The Washington Football Team officially released Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith on Friday, making the quarterback a free agent and saving the club nearly $15 million against the salary cap.

Smith turns 37 in May and had two years left on his contract, with cap charges of $23.3 million and $25.3 million.

He returned from multiple leg surgeries and a life-threatening infection to help Washington win the NFC East title last season, which he began as the team’s third-string QB.

Washington turned to Kyle Allen after Dwayne Haskins was ineffective (and later released), and Smith took over after Allen suffered a season-ending injury in Week 9.

Smith played in eight regular-season games, starting six, and completed 168 of 252 passes (66.7 percent) for 1,582 yards and six touchdowns. He was unable to play in Washington’s wild-card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of a calf injury.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by San Francisco, Smith is 99-67-1 as a starter and has passed for 35,650 yards and 199 touchdowns in 174 games with the 49ers (2005-12), Kansas City Chiefs (2014-17) and Washington.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection (2013, 2016 and 2017) forced Washington’s hand when he made it clear that he hoped to continue playing in 2021.

“When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team’s plan,” Smith said in a GQ interview last month. “They didn’t see it, didn’t want me there, didn’t want me to be a part of it, didn’t want me to be on the team, the roster, didn’t want to give me a chance. Mind you, it was a whole new regime, they came in, I’m like the leftovers and I’m hurt and I’m this liability. Heck no, they didn’t want me there. At that point, as you can imagine, everything I’d been through, I couldn’t have cared less about all that. Whether you like it or not, I’m giving this a go at this point.”

Washington recently extended quarterback Taylor Heinicke to a two-year deal. Allen is expected to re-sign as an exclusive-rights free agent. Undrafted free agent Steven Montez is also on the roster.

–Field Level Media

Nov 8, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; Members of the Washington Football Team cheerleaders dance in the stands against the New York Giants at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Football Team ends cheerleading, creates co-ed dance team

For the first time in more than five decades, the Washington Football Team plans to take the field without a cheerleading squad.

The change is part of the overhaul of the team’s culture, which included removing Redskins from the team’s name, a new logo, team and football operations power structure, and a potential change in the ownership group.

The Washington Football Team made the decision, in part, because the contracts of their current cheerleaders have expired.

Petra Pope, the club’s new senior adviser, told USA Today the dance team will be modern and diverse.

“We want to be more inclusive, so we are going to invite a coed entity (to audition),” Pope said. “We’re able to do more things with the strength of a male, and lifts, so that’s changed a great deal. The inclusivity, strength and interest of choreography has changed.”

The club came under fire after an expose by the Washington Post detailing members of the 2008 and 2010 cheerleading squads alleging club employees made videos without permission of squad calendar shoots with women in various stages of undress for scene changes required by the photographers.

The Washington Football Team has denied those claims.

–Field Level Media

Aug 19, 2020; Ashburn, Virginia, USA; Helmets of Washington Football Team players rest on the field on day twenty-two of training camp at Inova Sports Performance Center in Ashburn, Virginia. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Football Team adds Chris Polian to front office

The Washington Football Team named Chris Polian as its director of pro personnel on Monday.

He is the third former NFL general manager that Washington has added this offseason, joining new GM Martin Mayhew and executive vice president Marty Hurney.

Polian held numerous job titles with the Indianapolis Colts after joining the club in 1998. He capped that run by serving as the team’s vice president and general manager from 2009-11.

Polian spent 2012 as an executive scout with the Atlanta Falcons before working as the director of pro personnel with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2013-19.

His father is Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) passes the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

QB Taylor Heinicke signs extension with Washington

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke, plucked from engineering school at Old Dominion in December when the Washington Football Team needed help, signed a two-year extension with the club Wednesday.

Terms were not released but it’s reportedly an $8.75 million deal, with additional financial incentives attached depending on how many games he starts.

“It’s a good feeling,” Heinicke said, via the team’s website. “Everyone knows I was at home taking math classes … so for this contract to come, it’s a big sigh of relief. I’m really excited. This is the place I wanted to be, so everything came together pretty smoothly, and I’m really excited to be back.”

Heinicke, 27, was signed to the practice squad on Dec. 8 after having been out of the league for more than a year. He entered a Week 16 game against the Carolina Panthers, replacing an ineffective Dwayne Haskins, who soon after was released. Heinicke completed 12 of 19 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. He added 22 rushing yards on three carries.

With Alex Smith sidelined by a calf injury, Heinicke started the wild card playoff game against Tampa Bay, completing 26 of 44 passes for 306 yards and a touchdown against an interception in the 31-23 loss. The Buccaneers went on to win the Super Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team coaching intern Jennifer King tosses a ball on. The field prior to the Washington Football Team's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WFT’s Jennifer King named first full-time Black female coach

The Washington Football Team promoted Jennifer King to assistant running backs coach on Tuesday, making her the NFL’s first full-time Black female coach.

King was an intern under Washington running backs coach Randy Jordan during the 2020 season.

“Coach King is well deserving of the promotion to assistant running backs coach. She came to Washington eager for the opportunity to work as a full-year coaching intern and learn from our staff,” Washington head coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. “She got the chance to experience not only the in-season work that goes into being a full-time coach in this league but also the countless hours that are spent preparing in the offseason as well. She demonstrated all of the qualities that are needed to work full-time on my staff. She is a hard worker, a great communicator and a quality person.

“Coach King is always eager to learn and has shown tremendous growth since starting here last season. I know she will continue to be an asset to (offensive coordinator Scott) Turner, Jordan and the running back group, and she earned this opportunity with her hard work. The sky is truly the limit for her.”

All-time tennis great Billie Jean King, who knows a thing or two about making history, offered her congratulations in a video posted on social media by Washington.

“Congratulations Jennifer on your new promotion with the Washington Football Team to become the first Black woman to coach full-time in the NFL,” the former tennis star said. “In a new history-making job, you will inspire generations of children because if you can see it, you can be it.”

Jennifer King previously served as an offseason and preseason intern for the Panthers, when Rivera was Carolina’s head coach. Rivera became Washington’s head coach prior to the 2020 campaign.

“I am very pleased to have Coach King back to assist me full-time in the running backs room,” Jordan said. “She was extremely helpful last year in seeing the game from a different perspective, and she was a tremendous communicator in our room. I look forward to continuing to collaborate as we move forward in our program and as she moves forward in her coaching career.”

In early 2019, Jennifer King was the wide receivers coach for the Arizona Hotshots in the short-lived Alliance of American Football, working under head coach Rick Neuheisel. The Hotshots went 5-3 before the league folded.

During the fall of 2019, Jennifer King was part of the offensive coaching staff of the Dartmouth College football team, which went 9-1 and shared the Ivy League title with a 6-1 mark.

Jennifer King also was the head coach of the Johnson & Wales University Charlotte women’s basketball team from 2016-18, leading the team to a USCAA Division II national championship in her second season.

She was a basketball and softball player as an undergraduate at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., from 2002-06.

–Field Level Media

Sep 27, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney watches during the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Chargers 21-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Football Team hires Martin Mayhew, Marty Hurney

The Washington Football Team continued its overhaul of the front office by naming Martin Mayhew as its new general manager and Marty Hurney as executive vice president of player personnel on Friday.

Hurney, the former Carolina Panthers general manager, had been expected to land the GM role before it went to Mayhew.

Mayhew, who will report to head coach Ron Rivera, previously served as GM of the Detroit Lions from 2008-15. He spent the last four years with the San Francisco 49ers, including last year as vice president of player personnel.

Between those jobs, the former NFL cornerback was director of football operations for the New York Giants.

“Martin is a proven general manager who will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organization,” Rivera said in a statement. “He will be an integral part of running the daily football operations and will allow me the opportunity to focus more on coaching.”

It’s a reunion for Hurney, 65, with Rivera, with whom he worked in Carolina from 2011-12 and again from 2017-19.

“Marty has a proven track record as a successful scout and General Manager and will be a vital part of shaping our roster,” said Rivera.

Carolina fired Hurney in December while he was in a second stint as GM following a 4-10 start. He was previously dismissed in 2012. The Panthers finished the 2020 season 5-11 in their first season under head coach Matt Rhule.

Hurney was first named GM in 2002, having been promoted from his role as director of player operations. He had an immediate hand in developing the rosters that advanced to two Super Bowls — in 2003 and 2013 — including drafting one-time franchise cornerstones Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly.

Washington finished the regular season 7-9, earning a playoff berth in the NFC Wild Card round where it lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-23.

–Field Level Media

Nov 17, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney walks across the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Washington to name Marty Hurney as new GM

The Washington Football Team is expected to name former Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney as its new GM, multiple sources reported Tuesday.

The move would reunite Hurney, 65, with head coach Ron Rivera, with whom he worked alongside in Carolina from 2011-12 and again from 2017-19.

Carolina fired Hurney in December while he was in a second stint as GM following a 4-10 start. He was previously dismissed in 2012. The Panthers finished the 2020 season 5-11 in their first season under head coach Matt Rhule.

“I think sometimes you just need a restart, a refresh,” Panthers owner David Tepper said in December. “We did it last year on the coaching side. Maybe you could say it should have been done before on the GM side. Maybe it should have been. I’m sure people may say that, or otherwise, on both sides. I think it’s just time, on both sides, to do that. It just seems like the right time to move forward.”

Hurney was first named GM in 2002, having been promoted from his role as director of player operations. He had an immediate hand in developing the rosters that advanced to two Super Bowls — in 2003 and 2013 — including drafting one-time franchise cornerstones Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly.

After being fired in 2012, Hurney returned from a sports radio role in 2017 and helped hire Rhule away from Baylor last offseason.

Washington finished the regular season 7-9, earning a playoff berth in the NFC wild-card round where they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-23.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) runs with the ball past Washington Football Team free safety Jeremy Reaves (39) in the second quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady leads Bucs to postseason win over Washington

Tom Brady threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns to propel the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 31-23 victory over the Washington Football Team on Saturday in an NFC wild-card game.

Leonard Fournette added 132 yards from scrimmage (93 rushing, 39 receiving) and a 3-yard touchdown run for the fifth-seeded Buccaneers, who recorded their first playoff win since Super Bowl XXXVII on Jan. 26, 2003.

Tampa Bay’s next opponent will be determined by the result of the New Orleans-Chicago playoff game on Sunday. The Buccaneers would host the sixth-seeded Los Angeles Rams should the Bears win, or they’d visit the second-seeded Saints if New Orleans is victorious.

Washington’s Taylor Heinicke threw for 306 yards with a touchdown and added an 8-yard scoring scamper while starting in place of Alex Smith (calf strain).

Heinicke’s dive for the pylon trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to 18-16 late in the third quarter, but the Buccaneers responded with Ryan Succop’s 38-yard field goal and Fournette’s touchdown run early in the fourth.

An 11-yard touchdown reception by Steven Sims Jr. was answered by Succop’s fourth field goal, a 37-yarder, to give Tampa Bay a 31-23 lead with 2:49 to play.

Washington turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, effectively ending the game.

Succop kicked a 29-yard field goal to open the scoring, and Brady tossed a 36-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown, who found a soft spot in the coverage for his fifth score in the last four games. The touchdown pass in an NFL playoff game made Brady (43 years, 159 days) to oldest accomplish the feat, eclipsing the previous mark held by Hall of Famer George Blanda (43 years, 108 days).

The extra-point attempt was blocked, however, keeping the Buccaneers’ lead at 9-0.

J.D. McKissic capped a 10-play drive by bolting up the middle for a 2-yard score, but Tampa Bay responded in short order. Chris Godwin beat one-on-one coverage from Ronald Darby for a 27-yard touchdown. and Succop added a 23-yard field goal late in the second quarter to extend the Buccaneers’ lead to 18-7.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) attempts a pass against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington QB Taylor Heinicke to start vs. Buccaneers

Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke will start Saturday’s NFC wild-card game against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Washington announced approximately 3 1/2 hours prior to the game that fellow quarterback Alex Smith is inactive versus the fifth-seeded Buccaneers. Smith was listed as questionable with a calf strain that limited his participation in practice sessions throughout the week, leading to Heinicke receiving first-team reps.

Steven Montez will serve as the backup quarterback on Saturday.

Heinicke, 27, relieved an ineffective Dwayne Haskins — who summarily has been released — in Washington’s 20-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 27. He completed 12 of 19 passes for 137 yards with one touchdown in that game.

Smith returned from a two-game absence because of the injury to lead Washington to a 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, clinching the NFC East with a 7-9 record.

Smith, 36, sports a 5-1 record since taking over as the starter in Week 10. After missing all of 2019 recovering from a leg injury and a life-threatening infection, he has completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,582 yards with six touchdowns and eight picks in eight appearances this season.

–Field Level Media