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Saints to Release Dwight Smith - From ESPN

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The New Orleans Saints apprised agent Drew Rosenhaus on Thursday that they have abandoned their efforts to trade starting free safety Dwight Smith, one of their steadiest defenders during a dismal 2005 season, and instead will release the veteran defensive back after just one year with the franchise.


The move comes after New Orleans officials spent much of the offseason attempting to trade Smith, and just one week before Saints players are scheduled to report to summer training camp at Millsaps College near Jackson, Miss.


A five-year veteran, Smith will become an unrestricted free agent once his name officially appears on the NFL internal transactions network, which could come as early as Thursday afternoon. While the Saints apparently could not find a trade deal to their liking, it is expected that Smith will have multiple suitors as a free agent.


One franchise that probably will pursue him is Tampa Bay, the franchise with which Smith began his NFL career. It will not be surprising if Smith has a new home within two or three days.


The former Akron standout, a third-round pick of the Bucs in the 2001 draft, is the kind of safety many teams covet -- an interior defender with cornerback-level coverage skills. In fact, Smith started his career with the Bucs as a standout nickel cornerback and then was moved to safety 2003.


Smith, 27, provides a defense with tremendous flexibility because of his hybrid skills and his ability to move out into the slot and cover wide receivers.


As arguably the Saints' most notable veteran addition in 2005, Smith signed a five-year, $15 million contract as an unrestricted free agent, and the deal included a $3.5 million signing bonus. The four years that were remaining on his New Orleans contract were for base salaries of $1.2 million (for 2006), $1.6 million (2007), $2.5 million (2008) and $3.5 million (2009). Given the palatable level of those salaries for the next two seasons, it is surprising that no team stepped up and traded for him.


In his only season with the Saints, Smith appeared in 15 games, all starts, and registered 86 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, seven passes defensed and two forced fumbles.


It has been rumored that Smith might have experienced some personality conflicts with some members of the New Orleans management team. It is also possible that with a new head coach (Sean Payton) and new defensive coordinator (Gary Gibbs), he simply did not fit into the Saints' plans any longer.


New Orleans has dramatically reshapes its safety corps in the last 14 months. The Saints used second-round picks on Josh Bullocks in 2005 and on Roman Harper in 2006. A player the coaches regard very highly, Bullocks started 13 games as a rookie last year. New Orleans also signed veteran Omar Stoutmire as a free agent in the offseason and acquired former second-rounder Bryan Scott in a trade with Atlanta.


For his career, Smith has appeared in 78 games and started 49 of them. He has 306 tackles, one sack, 14 interceptions, 45 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and two recoveries. In Tampa Bay's victory over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, Smith returned two interceptions for touchdowns.

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If he does indeed go back to Tampa - does that improve his value? How will the Tampa Cover 2 defensive scheme effect his value - does he fit the scheme or not. I would think that he must because it is being said that Tampa would be a good home for him. Why was he let go from Tampa in the 1st place?

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If he does indeed go back to Tampa - does that improve his value? How will the Tampa Cover 2 defensive scheme effect his value - does he fit the scheme or not. I would think that he must because it is being said that Tampa would be a good home for him. Why was he let go from Tampa in the 1st place?


IIRC that's exactly why they let him go. I must say this is a very odd decision by the Saints. I'm guessing he asked to be traded or cut & they obliged. It's my understanding that he took his demotion well & the staff was impressed with his attitude. Maybe it was a mutual decision for his benefit, ie get cut with a better chance at starting elsewhere? :D

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Smith is an impact player -- and he's one of the fastest players in the league. There were two times I remember being floored by his speed:


1. On the first play from scrimmage in the 2004 opener between Tampa and Washington, Portis takes his first carry as a Redskin and bursts through an inside seam. With nothing but green ahead of him, the camera pans to the side view to show Portis getting separation from the defenders. Then, suddenly, Dwight Smith comes tearing into the picture and actually catches Portis at the goal line, but not in time to tackle him before the score. Portis ran a 4.29 40 before the 2002 draft.


2. Same season, Week 9, Tampa vs. Kansas City. The score is tied 7-7 in the first quarter. From their own 30-yard line, Trent Green hits Eddie Kennison over the middle at around the 50, and Kennison is completely behind the secondary. Knowing that Kennison has always been blazing fast, I say to myself "that's six." Then, much like the Portis play, Dwight Smith suddenly appears on the screen when Kennison approaches the Tampa's 30 (or so). I don't know how to say this -- Kennison WAS sprinting full-speed, but when Smith came into view, it looked like Kennison was lightly jogging. Smith just ATE UP the space between the two players in a couple of seconds and tackled him at the 11. :D On the next play, Kennison fumbled and Tampa returned it 32 yards. They scored on that drive and won the game 34-31. THAT is an impact play.

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From SaintsReport.com

Originally posted by GoJoe

I played on a inturmural basketball team with Dwight this summer, and about a month ago i asked him what was up with all the trade rumors and he told me that he wanted more than anything to stay with new orleans because he really liked it here, but that the saints told him that he did not fit into there plans and that he would either be traded or released sometime before training camp. He asked me not to say anything till the time came, just in case there was a chance he would stay. I also asked him where he would want to go if he left and he said anywhere where they wanted him. I asked if he would go back to Tampa and he said yes he would, but that it would be hard to play New Orleans twice a year again, because he had grown to like the city and the people here so much. So take it for what its worth...but i think we lost a good dude today...

Saints fans are pretty bummed about losing him, but I think it's pretty good of the FO to give him a shot at starting elsewhere rather than sitting the bench. He'll definately get picked up elsewhere, but I'm torn whether I'd like to see him back twice a year with Tampa or not.
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I have still yet to understand how the Saints could not get anything in a trade for this guy.



I agree, I wonder if he's had some trouble with the NFL's substance abuse policy. Just purely conjecture on my part, because it doesn't make sense. There are a lot of teams that could use this guy.... Dallas is one of them. No one knew why Travis Henry went so cheap.... he was looking at a 4 game suspension on his next violation. Very hard to figure, and even more so now, I thought he would have signed by this time.

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