Retired QB Alex Smith, NFL's 2020 Comeback Player of Year, joins ESPN as NFL analyst

Retired quarterback Alex Smith, who returned to play last season after suffering a devastating leg injury two years earlier, has been hired by ESPN as an NFL analyst.

Smith, who retired in April to end his 16-season career, will appear on various ESPN shows, including SportsCenter, Monday Night Countdown and Sunday NFL Countdown. He will also contribute to ESPN's coverage of Super Bowl LVI and the 2022 NFL draft.

"When I announced my retirement in April, I knew I was walking away from the playing field, but was not walking away from the game," Smith said in a statement. "This opportunity with ESPN surrounds me with new teammates and provides a fresh challenge as my family and I begin the next phase of our life. I'll be contributing to ESPN's coverage in a number of ways this season, continuing the relationship with the game I, and so many others, love."

Smith, 37, was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year after last season when he returned from a compound leg fracture he suffered in 2018 that almost cost him his right leg. Smith required 17 surgeries to stem an infection in his right leg, which was nearly amputated. He also needed to wear an external fixator on his leg for eight months and developed drop foot. His journey was chronicled in an episode of E:60 titled Project 11. A second episode of Project 11 aired after he announced his retirement.

He helped the Washington Football Team win the NFC East title last season, appearing in eight games and making six starts in which Washington went 5-1.

Smith was the NFL's No. 1 overall pick in 2005 by the San Francisco 49ers out of the University of Utah and spent his first eight seasons with the team. He also played five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs before joining Washington in 2018 for his final three NFL seasons.

"ESPN's relationship with Alex dates back nearly 20 years when he was gaining national recognition leading Utah to an undefeated season and a top 5 ranking," ESPN senior vice president of production Lee Fitting said in the statement. "As he begins a new career, we will provide him role flexibility to gain experience on different shows and settings, adding to our productions and benefitting fans in multiple ways. Ultimately, our mutual goal is setting up Alex for long-term success in this next chapter."

For his career, Smith started 167 games, and his teams went 99-67-1 in those contests. He passed for 35,650 yards, 199 touchdowns and 109 interceptions. He was selected to three Pro Bowls.