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NFL NOTEBOOK

Washington releases Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith

Alex returned to the NFL last season, two years after breaking two bones in his right leg and requiring 17 surgeries to repair it.
Alex returned to the NFL last season, two years after breaking two bones in his right leg and requiring 17 surgeries to repair it.John McDonnell/The Washington Post

Washington released AP Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith Friday, a move that was expected but still provides a cold ending to the veteran quarterback’s storybook tenure with the organization.

Smith’s release clears just under $15 million in salary cap space for Washington, which is hoping to figure out its long-term QB situation and fill many holes in the aftermath of a 7-9 season, NFC East title and wild-card round loss. Coach Ron Rivera said he met with Smith this week, each side figured it was best to move on, and the organization granted Smith’s request to be released.

“I want to thank Alex for his contributions this past year,” Rivera said in a statement. “He made such an impact on our young roster, and his leadership was one of the key factors in our late-season success and in making the playoffs for the first time since 2015.”

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Smith made a triumphant return to NFL action last season, two years after breaking two bones in his right leg and requiring 17 surgeries to repair it. His battle against a life-threatening infection and long rehab process to get back on the field became a documentary and an inspirational tale whether he played again or not. And, of course, he did play again.

Smith has indicated he plans to continue playing at age 37. He recently told GQ in his most pointed comments yet that Washington didn't want him to come back from his injury — another indication he knew his future would be elsewhere.

First Black female official hired

The NFL hired Maia Chaka as the first Black female official in league history. She will work games during the 2021 season.

“I am honored to be selected as an NFL official,” Chaka said. “But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”

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Chaka enters the NFL after working in the Pac-12 and Conference USA. She was selected in 2014 for the NFL’s Officiating Development Program, which identifies college officiating talent with the goal of showing them some of the same experiences as NFL officials before determining if they have the ability to succeed as an NFL official.

The NFL did not specify which officiating position she will work.

Gain with pain?

The NFL is taking steps to learn more about different ways to help players manage pain.

Last month, the NFL and NFL Players Association asked researchers with experience conducting controlled, experimental studies related to pain management to submit information that may be useful in treating players.

The joint pain management committee comprised of medical experts appointed by the league and the union wants to know about alternatives to opioids, including CBD (cannabidiol) and other cannabis-derivative products, that may help players recover from sports-specific and musculoskeletal injuries.

The committee’s mission is to “improve player health through evidence-based treatment of acute and chronic pain, and to facilitate research to better understand and improve potential alternative treatments.”

Bills sign Micah Hyde

The Bills signed veteran safety Micah Hyde to a two-year contract extension. A person with direct knowledge of the deal told the Associated Press that it averages close to $9.6 million a year.