Or should they allow his Pursuit of Happyness to occur elsewhere?
Since ESPN automatically renewed my Insider account this week, even though I wanted to cancel it, I thought it would be a good time to discuss Will Smith's potential contract extension, mentioned in a recent Tipsheet and the not-so-secret Whispers from Around the NFL. According to Whispers,
While the Saints normally would not consider negotiating a new deal with a player who has two years remaining on his contract as Smith does, we're told the fourth-year pro, who played in his first Pro Bowl in February, is considered a cornerstone of the franchise, trailing only QB Drew Brees and RB Reggie Bush in importance.
In an example of duplicity that could only come from ESPN, KC Joyner, the network's Football Scientist, said that Smith is one of the most overrated ends in the game:
Smith made the Pro Bowl last year in large part due to his 10.5 sacks, but those included three coverage sacks and 1.5 garbage sacks. Smith is still a very good player and probably deserved the Pro Bowl berth based on his overall game, but he is not as good a pass-rusher as his sack total would indicate.
So is Smith clearly one of the three-best players on the team, or is he overrated? More important, is Smith worth the seven-years, $63 million that Charles Grant got?
An NFL team can't live without pass rushers; every successful team can put pressure on the quarterback. It's a universal truth. Based on his track record, Smith will get a large-dollar contract from somebody, the question is, from whom.
NFL teams have consistently been able to find successful pass rushers later in the draft, guys who can make an immediate impact as rookies. The Bears' Mark Anderson, a rookie 4th round pick, racked-up 13 sacks last season. While it can't necessarily be expected, it can be done. One must wonder if teams even need to spend large dollars on pass rushers.
Still, Smith is the Saints' best defensive player. The team can almost pencil-him-in for 8-10 sacks per season. It's not something that can be taken lightly. The Saints should take care to lock Smith in a long-term deal.