For several key NFL players, 2011 represents the final year of their current contracts. While that reality has caused some to complain publicly (e.g., Matt Forte) or to engage in bizarre behavior privately (e.g., Peyton Hillis and DeSean Jackson), 49ers quarterback Alex Smith doesn’t seem to care about whether and to what extent negotiations will occur.
“It’s nothing I’ve talked about or even really thought about,” Smith said Wednesday, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “It’s so early. I’m focused on playing football. It’s not something I want to think about in the middle of the season, to be honest with you.”
So is Smith willing to wait to address his contract after the season ends? “I think so,” Smith said. “I do. It’s something the guys upstairs — Trent [Baalke] and Coach Harbaugh — it’s something we can deal with later.”
Smith signed a one-year, $4.9 million contract before the season started. His value on the open market isn’t known, but if he plays well into January, as 20 teams and counting are watching the postseason on television, one or more owners or General Managers undoubtedly will decide to pursue him with an offer much richer than the one he received from the Niners after the lockout ended.
In the end, Smith’s best bet likely will be to stay put in San Francisco. The first overall pick in the 2005 draft hasn’t had a coach like Harbaugh, and there’s no guarantee that any other coach can set Smith up to succeed the way he has in 2011.
Still, Smith is bearing the risk of injury by not clamoring for a new deal. If he tears an ACL or suffers a serious shoulder injury, for example, his value for 2011 will plummet.