The Oakland Raiders have been trying to fix their leaky secondary for quite some time now. And many thought they did that when they signed cornerback Sean Smith in free agency in 2016. The last we saw of him to that point, he was a lock-down CB for the Kansas City Chiefs.
So the thought was that the Raiders were weakening the Chiefs while strengthening themselves. Then came opening day of 2016, where he was torched, charbroiled, whatever you want to call it. That would start and erratic season that would have him play pretty well one week an not so well the next.
He was exposed for not being able to stay with the faster, shiftier receivers in the NFL. At 6’3″, 215 pounds with long arms, Smith as a bump-and-run CB that has to get his hands on you to win. If he can’t touch the WR lined up on him, it’s just about guaranteed that the WR will make a play.
And to help the WR lined up on him, all opposing teams have to do is back him off the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs must have seen it coming, which is why they didn’t try hard to re-sign him. Smith vowed to return to form this year but once you get a tragic flaw exposed, that’s next to impossible.
So here in 2017, he’s been demoted because he has been struggling in training camp. In the first preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, he was torched by first and second-stringers. And now, the Raiders are trying him out as a linebacker in the team’s dime packages.
Obi Melifonwu, the team’s 2017 second-round pick, is a freak athlete drafted for the same role. Smith has taken most of the reps but that’s because Melifonwu has missed time with an injury. According to Levi Damien, Melifonwu, the strong safety, suited up for practice on Tuesday.
So one has to wonder if the Raiders have any use for Smith and if not, will he get cut. To cut him is to have almost $10 million in dead money this year but to keep him is to occupy a roster spot. He’s not going to be a Raider next year for $8.5 million while the Raiders have to re-sign Khalil Mack.
Plus there might be a young CB the Raiders want to keep on the roster to develop for the future.