Oakland Raiders Release Antonio Smith


Shocking news has came out of Oakland on Tuesday afternoon as the team has released a player they brought on during 2014 Free Agency late in the offseason process, cutting a player who was thought to be safe as March came to a close with much of the 2015 Free Agency period done with and little talent left. Raising eyebrows as general manager Reggie McKenzie is freeing up cap space with few players left to spend money on as April nears.

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According to multiple reports the Raiders will be releasing Antonio Smith today, moving on from a defensive tackle who joined the team last offseason and did good work with the young Justin “Jelly Ellis” on the interior of the team’s defensive front. Smith survived a release in early March when the team signed Dan Williams, so his spot on the team appeared safe at the time, but now he will be a cap space victim as the team is going to move on from a player they had little guaranteed money committed to.

Smith had 16 starts for the Raiders at defensive tackle last season, registering three sacks and 18 tackles as an undersized interior defensive lineman. The addition of a more prototypical defensive tackle in Williams from the Arizona Cardinals likely spelling the demise of Smith with the Raiders as McKenzie has determined that the money spent on the veteran isn’t worth keeping the player around. Even if the announcement of his release has analysts in Oakland surprised at the timing of the move.

It is shocking that Smith was released so late in March, but he is likely to be replaced in the draft with a younger talent as the team will likely pair Williams and Ellis with a cheaper, younger prospect that fits their needs. Too slow for defensive end this late in his career and undersized for defensive tackle, Smith was a bit overpriced for his role even if the Raiders could afford it with their cap situation. McKenzie deciding that it would be best to not delay the inevitable by moving on from the aging player.

Expect Smith to land a camp invite and a contract elsewhere, but his time in Oakland was far from a success. Posting his lowest sack totals since 2006, Smith just was not productive enough to justify his contract. Now that he is gone expect rumblings of Leonard Williams being atop of the Raiders draft board as the hole left by Smith could easily be filled by the highly touted pass rushed out of USC. It may not happen in the end, but it sure looks like Oakland are now planning on adding in the trenches in the draft and felt that Smith was expendable. Whether that will happen in the first round is debatable, but it is definitely interesting that McKenzie is freeing up playing time for a likely draft pick right now with just under one month to the draft.