The Rams used the second overall pick in the 2009 draft on tackle Jason Smith, passing on guys like Tyson Jackson.
Um, Aaron Curry.
Mark Sanchez? Andre Smith?
And Darrius Heyward-Bey.
OK, so it’s not as if the Rams in hindsight picked another Mandarich with Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders on the board. Still, Smith is due to earn a base salary of $10 million in 2012, only $1 million of which is guaranteed. And we were told several weeks ago that at some point he’ll have to reduce that amount in order to stay with the team.
For now, though, the Rams are willing to let him prove that he deserves to keep most of it. “We’re looking forward to putting him in the program and developing him,” G.M. Les Snead tells Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Concussions have limited Smith to 29 appearances in 48 possible games. Which that doesn’t bode well for Smith’s future with the team.
“With any player we always talk about reliability,” Snead said of Smith, who started out as a left tackle and has since been shifted to the right side. “Because when you have a player and you prepare for games, you like to know that player’s going to be there each and every week or it’s going to cost you consistency. It’s not just with Jason but with any player who’s had some unreliability because of durability concerns. That’s always a concern.”
As long as the Rams have the ability to carry Smith’s salary, his cap number won’t a concern. And the Rams don’t have to make any final decisions about his future for months.
Still, it remains extremely unlikely that the Rams ultimately will decide to pay him $10 million for 2012.