In 2015, Sean Smith had a pretty good season in coverage as the CB1 of the Kansas City Chiefs. He followed the opposing WR1s wherever they went and didn’t allow them to do much on his watch. After his contract ran out that season, the Oakland Raiders made an offer he couldn’t refuse.
The offer was for four years, $40 million and most in Raider Nation were happy about it. Meanwhile, CB David Amerson was stood out for the Raiders in 2015 after being picked up on waivers. That earned him a big contract of his own so the Raiders went into 2016 thinking they were set at CB.
But that didn’t turn out to be the case as the Raiders gave up the most completions over 20 and 40 yards. And while Amerson was okay but not quite the same as 2015, Smith got charbroiled. He got benched in the first game of the season after giving up multiple bombs, including a 98-yard TD.
That nonperformance set the tone for what would be a season in which he gave up a 113 passer rating. So the Raiders had no choice but to take top-10 talented CB Gareon Conley at No. 24 overall. Conley had fallen because of the uncertainty of his status due to a rape accusation a couple of months ago.
It just became official that Conley is a steal because a grand jury opted not to him charges on him. Meanwhile, in Training Camp 2017, the Raiders have already benched Smith again for giving up deep balls. He is now working with the second-string unit and Conley has yet to touch the training camp field.
Conley, who currently has shin-splints, was supposed to be the Nickel-CB for the Raiders this season. The team was counting on Smith and Amerson to have bounce-back years on the outside. But only Amerson is doing his part so far so Conley will be a starter at some point when he’s ready.
It looks like T.J. Carrie or undrafted rookie Breon Borders will take over the Nickel-CB position now. If things continue at this pace, at best, Smith will end up being a CB5 for the Raiders. If you’re a CB5, $10 million per season is a lot to get paid so one has to wonder if he’ll get cut or traded.
If the Raiders cut him, that would be a ton of dead money but isn’t it still dead money if he’s on the bench?
And as far as trading him goes it would be awfully hard to get a team to take him with that contract. Some will say, “Give him a chance. He just came to the Raiders last year.” or “It’s just training camp.” But Smith was a big-time free agent, not a draft pick so if he’s good, he should be right away.
And when you’re getting beat deep in training camp after getting beat deep last season, that’s a problem. Plus getting benched twice in one season and one training camp proves Smith isn’t worth $10 million a year. With Conley drafted so high and Borders emerging, it’s highly unlikely Smith will be a Raider beyond this season.
So should the Raiders cut him and get it over with, try to trade him or see if improves this season.