Monday, May 5, 2014

New England Patriots sign free agent DE Will Smith

At 33-years-old and coming off a torn ACL that cost him all of the 2013 season, the New Orleans Saints gave veteran defensive end Will Smith his walking papers before the new business year began for the NFL instead of being responsible for paying him $11.55 million in salary and bonuses in 2014...

...and now he is a member of the New England Patriots, who are hoping that his knee has mended and that his one-dimensional skill set will pay dividends as a nickle pass rusher.

As usual, details of the contract were not made public - but it is likely that the terms of the deal are team friendly.

At 6' 3" tall and 280 pounds, Smith is purely a power rusher, finding much of his success with his hand in the dirt and fighting his way to the quarterback, the exception to that being last preseason when new Saints' defensive coordinator Rob Ryan switched Smith to outside linebacker, but he tore up his knee before that experiment ever got started.

Smith has recorded 67.5 sacks since being the Saints' first round draft pick out of Ohio State in 2004 - decent production considering his lingering knee issues and multiple suspensions - averaging six sacks per season since a 13 sack performance in New Orleans' title year of 2009.

If his knee is healed, Smith would perhaps be a serviceable backup to both Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, but his presence should not alter what the Patriots hope to accomplish in the draft - rather, should provide a barometer in camp for the defensive line depth - which is probably bad news for third-year bust Jake Bequette and a source of in-your-face inspiration for sophomore Michael Buchanan.

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