As former Saints linebacker Will Smith gets a head start on free agency, via the recent release by the team that made him a first-round draft pick a decade ago, he has a preference for his next NFL gig.
He would like to move back to the position he played before 2013.
“I think I’m at heart a 4-3 defensive end,” Smith told NFL Network, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “That’s something I would like to play. But if I go to a team that requires me to play outside linebacker, I’m cool with that too.”
It’s smart for Smith to be flexible, since it’s possible that the highest bidder will want him to stay at the position he didn’t get to play very much at all until tearing an ACL in August. Last year, former Colts linebacker Dwight Freeney preferred to return to defensive end in a 4-3 front — and then Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram tore an ACL and the Chargers closed the deal for Freeney.
Smith’s flexibility extends to former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who’s now running the defense in St. Louis.
“I never really had a problem with Gregg with the whole situation, so I wouldn’t really mind playing with him. I always thought he was a great coach and a great person,” Smith said.
That’s a far cry from the perception that Williams “snitched” on Jonathan Vilma by signing a sworn document confirming Vilma had offered $10,000 to anyone who knocked former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the January 2010 NFC title game.
But Smith knows there are only 31 potential suitors for his services. That’s far too few doors to justify slamming any of them shut.
Even for Vilma, who’d likely be inclined to bury the hatchet with Williams if there’s no other locker room in which Vilma can hang his cleats.