April 11, 2013

Saints Ink Free Agent OT Smith

The Saints have signed recycle-bin free agent Jason Smith to a one-year contract, expected to be at the base veteran minimum.

In March, we described Smith as an outside shot to help fill the Saints' empty depth chart at left tackle, a once-promising player in need of a "why not" contract.

The second overall pick in the 2009 draft, Smith took a surprising plummet, descending the Rams' depth chart, took a voluntary pay cut to remain on the roster in 2012, but was a preseason 2012 trade to the Jets anyway.  Smith appeared in only two games as a backup last season with no starts.

Smith was traded to the Jets straight-up for struggling veteran offensive tackle Wayne Hunter.  Hunter started four games for the Rams but struggled, Smith barely contributed as a Jet, both were cut after the season.

At Baylor, Smith added muscle and moved from tight end to left tackle.  He played in a spread offense and rarely ever put his hand on the ground in a three-point stance.  Concussions struck Smith early on and may have contributed to his quick replacement by Rams' 2010 second round pick Rodger Saffold.  Smith in 15 starts for the Rams in 2010 struggled mightily in pass protection, and is now regarded as the biggest draft bust in recent Rams memory.

Smith is expected to compete for a job on the Saints' roster through training camp, not necessarily at left tackle, and not with any certainty that he'd be an answer to the Saints' outstanding vacancy at left tackle.

The Saints have now signed four new unrestricted free agents to one-year deals since the beginning of April. In March, the Saints gave a two-year deal to LB Victor Butler, a three-year deal to TE Ben Watson and a five-year deal to CB Keenan Lewis.  The Saints have also re-signed LB Ramon Humber, WR Courtney Roby, and LS Justin Drescher since the beginning of free agency.

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