The New Orleans Saints are transitioning their defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and will need certain players that can perform in the system. Besides improving in the secondary, one of the biggest areas the team must improve upon is their pass-rush. The Saints have emerging pass-rushers in youngsters Martez Wilson and Junior Galette, and if the Saints feel confident in these two then Will Smith might be on his way out of New Orleans.
With the Saints’ defense moving to a 3-4, it might be tough to find a spot where Smith fits in as he has always been a 4-3 defensive end. However, during OTA’s and training camp, the Saints have been using Smith as an outside linebacker just to try and incorporate him into the new defense. If Smith cannot outperform Wilson or Galette, it is very likely that he will either be cut or traded.
The Saints are a little cash-strapped at the moment and even though Smith took a $6 million pay cut, he is still due $3 million this season. However, the Saints will simply not pay Smith to ride the bench all season long and could be looking to move the 32-year-old. Last season, Smith put up okay numbers during the bounty scandal fiasco with 58 tackles and six sacks in all 16 games. If the Saints feel like they can get more production out of Wilson and Galette, then Smith is gone.
However, all hope is not lost for Smith to make the final 53-man roster. When Victor Butler suffered a torn ACL back in June, the door slightly opened back up for Smith. The Saints main outside linebackers right now are Galette, Wilson and Smith. So if the Saints feel like Smith can provide some needed depth on the defensive line, then he might be worth the $3 million to keep around.
It would also appear that Smith is determined to make the Saints’ final roster as he has reportedly dropped almost 15 pounds and is now at 268 pounds. Smith’s work ethic could be a deciding factor to whether or not he will make the team. It is a great sign that he dropped some weight as he transitions from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Only time will tell if Smith will make the Saints 53-man roster and it could really go either way. Smith will need a strong training camp and preseason to ensure his spot on the final roster. Smith has been with the Saints for a long time, but that won’t ensure him a roster spot, but it is good to see him fighting for his spot.