Free agency just got a little more interesting for the Oakland Raiders.
With the recent news breaking that the New Orleans Saints will release defensive end Will Smith this offseason, the Raiders might have found their answer to replacing Lamarr Houston, who might test the open market.
Smith spent this last season on Injured Reserve after tearing his ACL last August. A 10-year NFL veteran, Smith has spent his entire career with the Saints, but is simply too expensive for New Orleans to keep around another year. By severing ties with the 32-year old defensive end, they’re riding themselves of the $13.9 million he would have counted against the salary cap in 2014.
On top of his hefty price tag, Smith is no longer a fit for the Saints and the 3-4 defense that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan implemented last year. A natural 4-3 defensive end, Smith attempted to make the move to outside linebacker last offseason but looked uncomfortable prior to his season-ending injury.
Meanwhile, the Raiders might not be willing to spend the money necessary to retain Houston, who is coming off a career year. Racking up 70 tackles, six sacks and 41 hurries, Houston proved to be a dominant 4-3 defensive end, which could entice other teams to throw excessive amounts of money at him when free agency opens on March 11. If that’s the case, the Raiders might be forced to watch him sign elsewhere.
Smith, however, would be a solid consolation price for the Raiders. He’d fit well as a right end in their 4-3 defense, and would bring an outstanding leadership presence to the Oakland locker room. While he’s certainly past his prime, he’s enjoyed significant production in recent seasons and would help lessen the blow felt from Houston’s impending departure.
Assuming he’s healthy and comes at a relatively cheap price, Smith would be a welcomed addition for the Raiders.