The Eagles and 49ers negotiated a potential trade that would have sent Smith to the Eagles during the 2016 season, but a deal couldn’t be finalized before the deadline. Smith himself acknowledged that talks had occurred.
Smith makes plenty of sense in Philadelphia, apart from the fact that they desperately need guys who can catch passes. His speed would stretch the field and open up the underneath areas for other targets, making the rest of the players better because they will be more likely to finagle single coverage (or none at all) if Smith is dragging targets deep down the field.
And let’s not completely discount the possibility that Smith was told he’ll be cut before the cut comes in order to get the Eagles or someone else to send a conditional seventh-round pick in 2018 (for example) to San Francisco. The challenge becomes convincing a new team to take on Smith’s $6.5 million contract; his performance from the past two years could make that difficult to justify.
Smith could always restructure to facilitate a trade, but why should he? It always makes more sense to push for a release and then become a free agent.
Then again, it’s only $6.5 million (plus another $1.375 million in roster and workout bonuses). That’s No. 2 receiver money, and Smith’s production during his two years in San Francisco likely had something to do with the quality of the offense and the quarterback play. So maybe it makes sense for the Eagles or someone else to call the 49ers and offering them anything. Because anything is better than the nothing they otherwise will get.