Alex Smith has made a good career out of playing for his alma mater, Nebraska.
And his time at the helm of the New Orleans Saints has given him a unique perspective on his almighty team.
The former 49ers quarterback was drafted No. 3 overall in 2009, but had a tough rookie season.
He threw for 3,923 yards and 19 touchdowns, but finished with just 13 interceptions and a dismal 41.8 passer rating.
The Saints went 8-8 in 2011, and the following year, Smith and his team went 8 2/3 games under .500 and lost to the Buffalo Bills.
The Saints went on to lose to the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl.
The season was so bad for Smith that he took a year off, and in 2012, he announced he would retire after the season.
Smith’s future in the NFL seemed secure, until the New York Giants selected him in the third round in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Smith went on a tear that year, completing 63.4 percent of his passes for 1,009 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions.
But the Saints, who finished 9-7 in 2015, fell short of the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
They won their first playoff game since 1999, and then lost in the wild-card round to the Indianapolis Colts.
After Smith’s injury, the Saints drafted Marcus Mariota in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft and have spent the past two years building around him.
The duo combined for 6,717 yards, 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2016.
In his final year in New Orleans, Smith threw for 2,983 yards and 20 touchdowns.
He was the team’s MVP and had a record-setting season with the Saints.
But he was injured for most of the season, and after his injury, he had to sit out the entire season.
The Falcons, meanwhile, signed a new contract with Smith that included $60 million guaranteed.
The deal included a $100 million roster bonus and an option for $35 million in 2019.
Smith had $35.5 million left on his deal, and he had already made a $20 million signing bonus and $12 million guaranteed bonus from the San Francisco 49ers.
He then took the franchise tag on his contract.
Smith, 32, had one more year left on the contract.
He can negotiate an extension with the Falcons if he wishes, but the new contract includes $40 million guaranteed, and $70 million guaranteed in 2020.