Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith wants out of Carolina. He reportedly wants a trade to the Chargers, Raiders or Ravens. Smith is more likely to be released and have his choice of teams.
If that becomes the case, San Diego is a more logical fit for Smith. The Chargers are reportedly monitoring the situation much as they did with Bob Sanders, who ultimately signed as a free agent.
Refreshing as it is to hear that a player wants to play for the silver and black again, unless Al Davis thinks Steve Smith is worth something in trade, he’ll have better opportunities elsewhere.
Could the Raiders have a roster spot for the 5-foot-9, 180-pound receiver with 52 career touchdown receptions?
Back in March, Rick Drummond did a great review of the Raiders receivers that gives some perspective and insight.
Of course, the Raiders drafted Denarius Moore also, so one has to wonder what role Steve Smith might play on a team chalked full of young receivers.
Darrius Heyward-Bey is likely to get one more season to prove himself as a legit threat, but a starting job will not handed to him this season. Coaches and players sing his praises as a breakout candidate. It’s either wishful thinking or legit observation, we will know soon enough.
Steve Smith broke out in his third full season after a solid second season. The Raiders are hoping the third-year receiver standard holds true for Heyward-Bey.
Jacoby Ford is too electric to keep off the field and he will get his snaps. In many ways Ford could be compared to a young Steve Smith. Does it make sense to have two smaller receivers on the roster, both of which can lineup outside? Steve Smith is going to expect to start, and the Raiders will have to decide if they are able to provide him that opportunity.
Don’t forget about Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and the rookie Moore. Murphy is the most consistently productive receiver on the team. Schilens fights his own health for snaps and the rookie wild card Moore may demand playing time. Where does that leave Steve Smith?
Smith has been a productive receiver, but he is 31 and his production has dipped in recent years. He’s been fairly durable despite missing 15 games in 2004. He’s known as a bit tough to handle, but Hue Jackson is no stranger to “personalities” at wide receiver.
If Smith becomes a Raider, the team has either lost confidence in Heyward-Bey’s ability to develop and/or they have deep concerns about Schilens’ ability to stay healthy.
The Raiders could use another quality receiving option like Smith, but bringing him in would retard the message the team has sent.
Of course, the Raiders are never too worried about the messages they send and it’s always a good idea to bring in a high upside veteran when you can do so cheaply.
The big question, should the Raiders bring in Smith, who would be the odd man out?
Ford will play and it would be tough to imagine the team giving up on Heyward-Bey this early. That leaves Murphy and Schilens. If healthy, can’t imagine Schilens is the odd man either, but he could certainly be injured again. That leaves Murphy, the most consistently productive receiver on the team over the past two seasons.
It’s also more likely Murphy makes the third-year leap than Heyward-Bey at this point.
To bring in Smith would be for the Raiders to abandon a receiver and relegate him to the fifth slot. Last year, the Raiders fifth receiver was Nick Miller or Johnnie Lee Higgins, who rarely saw the field and even more rarely caught a pass.
Maybe Hue Jackson can find enough packages to spread the snaps around evenly with a receiver like Smith in the fold. It would be a high-risk move, by an organization that is no stranger to the high-risk move.