Antonio Smith May Return to Houston Texans


Dec 21, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Antonio Smith (94) celebrates against the Buffalo Bills at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday saw the surprise release of defensive lineman Antonio Smith from Oakland as after the bulk of 2015 NFL Free Agency passed Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie decided to shed the contract of the veteran before the end of the month. The chance to save a couple million on the salary cap proving too valuable in addition to a new coaching staff making Smith an expendable piece in Oakland.

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Despite being cut from the 3-13 Raiders, a far more talented defensive front might add Smith to its ranks soon enough as according to reports the former team of the “Ninja Assassin” in the Houston Texans could be bringing the player back to Texas in the coming days. A move that Smith would likely embrace after leaving Houston for a generous payday with Oakland last offseason.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Texans are interested in bringing Smith back to the fold on their defensive line. Smith played in 79 regular season games for the Texans while he was a member of the team between 2009 and 2013, a run that saw the team make the AFC Playoffs twice in that span when he joined the team from the Arizona Cardinals before signing in Oakland during 2014 free agency.

From the Chronicle: 

"The Texans are interested in bringing back defensive end Antonio Smith, who was placed on waivers by Oakland today.Smith, 33, played five seasons (2009-13) with the Texans. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel wanted to keep him last season, but the Raiders offered him more than $4 million a year, so he signed with Oakland.Smith, the Ninja Assassin, started 16 games for the Raiders and recorded three sacks.The Texans need depth in their defensive line, a position that has only six players under contract."

If Smith can secure a Texans return it would be a good landing spot for a player who saw his production dip in his sole season in Oakland, but could still be a serviceable veteran who was a locker room leader with the Raiders despite being new to the roster in 2014. One of the NFL’s most underrated quotes and personalities, people love the Ninja Assassin, particularly in Houston where he rose to prominence in his five years with the team before leaving for the Bay Area.

Now that it didn’t work out in Oakland, expect the Texans rumors to grow in the coming days as Smith signing on a cheap deal would give an already dangerous defensive front a depth piece. There could be worse results to being cut than joining up with JJ Watt and your former teammates for Smith, so the option to go back to Houston may be best for a veteran who has just a few years left in the league before retirement comes. If the Texans front office is interested, it would be a great career move to go back to a team in which he was well embraced before getting a big deal with the Raiders.