Aug 12, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith (21) reacts in the first half against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders need to Keep Sean Smith

After big contracts were signed during 2016’s free agency, Raider Nation expected their secondary to be elite. Sean Smith, an 8-year vet out of Kansas City, was slated to make the Raiders’ defense huge. Most who expected him to have a record season his first time out were disappointed. There was even a call from fans to cut him, which meant eating almost $10 million in dead cap. That’s a ridiculous trade-off to make. So calm down, he wasn’t that bad.

During a year when offense was the focus, the defense was practically left to its own devices. Of the few stars picked up during the offseason, Kelechi Osemele and the offense were the superstars. As for the big corner and safety duo that were nabbed, they got no help. Smith, who normally plays in the outside position, was tasked with playing slot corner in several games or even individual downs. When he played exclusively outside, he turned out solid performances.  Just how much practice he had in the slot is unknown, but reason would dictate that it probably wasn’t enough.

When the GOAT speaks…

When Charles Woodson was interviewed about his alma mater’s performance, his words were not kind. Nothing less would be expected of C-Wood, but he put it all on the table here.

But who said he was a lockdown corner?

Smith, in his eight years in the league, has had a few good seasons, but by definition, none of that qualifies him as a lockdown corner. The definition isn’t as broad as people would like to make it. There aren’t many corners in the league the caliber of a Deion Sanders or even a Charles Woodson, in one of his many roles. Sean Smith is solid, but there’s no need to expect him to live up to that kind of legacy.

The Scheme

It’s probably not a surprise that the defensive coaching staff is not on the top of my nice list, they’re currently topping a different list. Obviously Oakland does not disagree with me. The Raiders fired their defensive backs coach, Marcus Robertson, which might make an impact. And they also brought in John Pagano, which is foreseen as a positive change. With the coaching upgrades, the team could revamp itself and find the keys to making this a successful year.

The bottom line is someone used Sean Smith incorrectly. Granted, he lost a few steps, didn’t play his best, and numbers were less than expected, but some of this must be attributable to the time on the practice field. The Raiders technically had depth at the corner position, but Sean Smith and David Amerson were supposed to be exclusively outside corners, with a battle for the slot corner position between the rest of them. These two don’t excel in the slot. Amerson had a miserable year too, compared to his 2015 turnout, which further proves the point.  Who else was behind those two? DJ Hayden, gone in free agency (and for good reason). TJ Carrie, who is a suitable backup but no starter. Dexter McDonald, Antonio Hamilton, tallying a whole one year of experience between the two of them. That’s pretty much it.

Everyone deserves a second chance. The first year in the Black Hole is overwhelming, and some people handle it better than others. Injuries were a factor, new scheme, new coaches, poor placement, and lack of support all factor into Sean Smith not showing up or showing out. Before we get rid of someone at the expense of $10 million, consider the contributing factors, consider the positives, and consider the cost. It all adds up to keeping Sean Smith.