Despite not playing a single game last season due to an injury, Will Smith has a list of suitors interested in his fading pass rushing skills. Of those interested in him, the New England Patriots are probably the team closest to eventually picking him up.
Smith is back from his ACL surgery and injury, which kept him off the football field for the entire 2013 season. The 32 year-old has spend his entire career (from 2004) on the edge of the defensive line for the New Orleans Saints, picking up 67.5 sacks along the way.
He peaked in the 2009 season, which also ended with a Super Bowl ring for him and his teammates, but since then he hasn’t had a year with more than 6.5 sacks. He isn’t the explosive force he used to be, but still quite useful, especially as a guy who isn’t supposed to be out there on every snap.
Smith might have been looking for more money and a longer deal earlier on in free agency, but at the moment he’ll probably be willing to take a one-year deal and hopefully perform well enough to secure another one in the future if he remains healthy. Smith made $3 million in salary last season to go with a $4.3 million bonus. He won’t get anything more than a veteran’s minimum now most likely.
Teams are still signing players and the Patriots might add him to the system as well, but with the draft coming up in just under a month, it’s good to remember that it wouldn’t be too big of a surprise if Smith remains just outside of signing a deal with anyone, while teams figure out if they still need a veteran coming off a serious injury after they get themselves rookies fresh out of college.
There’s also the chance Smith waits a little bit longer, until the cut deadlines later on when summer arrives, as team realize what they’ve done wrong during the first half of the offseason and start going for proven names they were reluctant to sign earlier.