Last year, the Lions opted not to extend a restricted free agent tender to running back Kevin Smith, one of the lone bright spots during that dismal 0-16 season of 2008. Injuries forced the Lions to bring him back in November, and in his second game Smith reeled off 201 total yards and three touchdowns.
This year, the Lions didn’t wait until November to get him under contract. Per a league source, Smith has agreed to terms on a one-year contract.
In seven appearances, Smith averaged 4.9 yards on 72 carries. He provides depth and insurance against injuries to Mikel Leshoure, who missed all of the 2011 season, and Jahvid Best, who exited in October with ongoing concussions problems.
Terms of the deal aren’t known, but it’s likely something close to the fifth-year minimum. There’s simply no market for veteran running backs, and as we’ve previously observed it pays almost as well to be a punter or a kicker.
Who knows? Maybe Smith will try to diversify his skill set this year.