Alex Smith says bye to Chiefs, looks forward to Redskins

Alex Smith looked back, bidding farewell to fans of his former team. But he also made it clear he has his eyes set on Washington, where he hopes to end his career.

Smith, who will be officially traded to Washington once the new league year begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday, wrote a goodbye letter for The Players' Tribune to the Kansas City Chiefs fans. He also looked ahead.

"As tough as it is for me to say goodbye to K.C., I could not be more excited about this new opportunity in Washington -- joining a team with a rich tradition, a great fan base, and a talented roster and coaching staff that I have admired from afar," Smith wrote.

"I'm pumped to get out there and get to work. Start learning the playbook. Meeting my new teammates. Integrating myself and my family into the community. Bringing the same work ethic, experience and willingness to do whatever it takes to win -- which is what has always mattered most to me -- to Washington."

Smith spent five years with the Chiefs, but they drafted Patrick Mahomes in the first round last season. His presence made Smith, who had one year left on his contract, expendable this offseason. Once the trade with Washington is official, Smith will sign a four-year extension. He'll turn 34 in May so this could be where he ends his career, something he once thought would happen in Kansas City.

That's why the end hit him hard, even as he looked forward to a new beginning.

"The emotions that came with it were real, too. There was the relief that it was done -- that I knew where my future was," Smith wrote. "There was a sense of pride for what we had accomplished in Kansas City, and the disappointment that, despite all our successes, we didn't reach our final goal. There was the sadness of closing a chapter of my life -- and my family's life -- in a place we loved calling home.

"But there was also the excitement for this new opportunity in Washington. Because if there's one thing I've learned in my career, it's that no matter what the circumstances, when you get an opportunity -- when a team tells you that they want you to be the guy -- you don't take it for granted. You embrace it. You run with it."

Smith will replace Kirk Cousins, who started at quarterback the past three seasons. The Redskins will be the third team for Smith, the top overall pick in the 2005 draft by San Francisco. He endured a rocky tenure with the 49ers, eventually losing his job to Colin Kaepernick. Smith understands the public perception of him.

"To a lot of people, I might just be the guy who went No. 1 in the draft," he wrote. "Or the guy who lost his job to Colin Kaepernick. Or the guy who helped turn a 2-14 Chiefs team into a back-to-back division champ ... but then couldn't put them over the top."

The Redskins are hoping he puts them over the top, though they'd like to add more talent at receiver and running back to help him do so. Smith has thrown for more than 4,000 yards once in his career -- in 2017. Cousins topped that figure each of the past three seasons. But the Redskins' brass has long been confident that coach Jay Gruden's offense can help a lot of quarterbacks succeed.

"I really only have one regret: That we didn't win that ring," Smith said. "So thank you, Kansas City. You will forever be a huge part of who I am as a quarterback and as a man. And Washington? Let's build something great together."