Now that we’ve finished our “Raiders Cut or Keep” series that looked at players still under contract that the team could choose to move on from, it’s time to look at players who are not under contract. The Raiders have 14 unrestricted free agents they will need to make decisions on this offseason. First up: Malcolm Smith.
Last year around this time, I wrote about Smith in the Cut or Keep series (when I was with cover32) and noted that I thought the Raiders could easily go either way with Smith and it would make sense. The response was almost unanimously that I was insane and that Smith was one of the best players on defense. I was literally kicked out of a Raiders Facebook group over it and lost a lot of followers on Twitter.
Oh how much can change in just one year.
I’d be willing to bet that pretty much every person who thought I was insane to question Malcolm Smith last offseason is begging for the team to move on from him this offseason. And of course, I’m here to tell you I don’t think he’s going anywhere.
No, my opinion on him hasn’t changed. I didn’t think highly of him in 2015 and I still don’t think highly of him after an even worse year in 2016. But the reality is, Smith is one of Ken Norton, Jr.’s guys. He was with Norton in Seattle and followed him to Oakland. Because of that, loyalty is likely to land Smith a new contract with the Silver and Black.
BUT I do not think. Or at least I really hope that loyalty will not land Smith a starting role next season. And to be honest, I think keeping Smith for depth purposes would be smart. He’s an experienced veteran who by all accounts is good in the lockerroom and who would provide very good depth. Keeping Smith but moving him from starter to reserve would do wonders to upgrade the depth at linebacker while also upgrading the starter position (assuming the Raiders can find someone to upgrade over Smith).
Last season I was yelled at for suggesting the Raiders should move on from Malcolm Smith. Let’s see how many get mad this offseason at the fact that I’m predicting he will be re-signed by the Raiders.