Just days before the NFL draft, one of the New England Patriots needs is at defensive end depth. On Monday it is reported that the team has addressed that need with the signing of veteran defensive end Will Smith. NFL Media’s Albert Breer confirmed the news that the former New Orleans Saints star is finalizing the deal.
The 32-year-old Smith visited the Patriots a month ago and is hoping to rejuvenate his career coming off major knee surgery. At best, the Patriots are hoping he can fill a similar role as Andre Carter, adding depth at the defensive end position and also veteran leadership. The signing may also mean that the team can turn their attention to defensive tackle early in the draft.
Will Smith spent the first nine seasons of his NFL Career with the New Orleans Saints. As a versatile pass rusher, he recording 67.5 sacks in 139 career games. His most productive season came in 2009 when he recorded a career-high 13 sacks in 2009. He only had a couple of double-digit sack seasons in his career. It was after the 2009 season that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick revealed that he had a lot of interest in Smith coming out of Ohio State in 2004.
Years later, Belichick will get his chance to utilize the skills of Smith, primarily as a situational pass rusher. He will serve as a backup to both Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich if everything works out and he has fully recovered from his ACL. The Patriots were at the top of Smith’s list once the Saints released him at the end of last season. Belichick is definitely taking a chance with Smith, but it is one of those low risk, high reward type moves that can benefit the team if Will Smith has anything left in his tank.