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Alex Smith retires after comeback from gruesome leg injury

Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Alex Smith is retiring from the NFL after making an improbable comeback from a broken leg.

Smith announced his retirement Monday on Instagram, saying he still has plenty of snaps left in him but is calling it quits to enjoy time with his family. He turns 37 on May 7.

Smith earned AP Comeback Player of the Year honors for getting back on the field last season, two years removed from his gruesome injury that required 17 operations.

Washington released Smith in March and signed veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during free agency. Smith initially expressed his intent to keep playing but decided not to pursue another contract.

Smith was the No. 1 overall pick in 2005 and played 14 seasons for San Francisco, Kansas City and Washington. He threw for 35,650 yards and 199 touchdowns in 174 regular-season games and played in seven playoff games.

Smith broke his right tibia and fibula in November 2018 against Houston. He was hospitalized for almost a month and survived a life-threatening infection in addition to the operations.

He spent the next year and a half rehabbing and was back at practice when Washington assembled for training camp last summer. His first game action came in relief in October when Kyle Allen was injured, and he made his first start at Detroit weeks later.

Smith was 5-1 as a starter in 2020, including a victory at Philadelphia in Week 17 on a strained right calf that clinched the NFC East title for Washington. The injury prevented Smith from playing against Tampa Bay in the wild-card round the next week.