We are currently in process of doing brief reviews of all of the free agents on the Cleveland Browns. In this post, we take a look at a guy who was involved in one of Pat Shurmur's most discussed play calls of the season.
How and When He Joined the Browns: In May 2010, Smith was signed to a one-year deal by the Browns. Despite not seeing much action in Eric Mangini's final year, Smith was kept on board with another one-year deal in March 2011, just before the start of the lockout. Prior to playing for the Browns, Smith was known for being a fairly solid contributor for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he caught passes quite a few passes over several years.
Productivity Level Last Season: It originally looked like Smith was on the roster bubble toward the end of training camp. Ben Watson was the starting tight end, Evan Moore looked like a monster in camp and was second-in-line, and the team had drafted Jordan Cameron in the fourth round. Still, Smith stuck around and ended up seeing significant reps at tight end all season long. Regarded as the best blocking tight end on the roster, Smith was often used to help alleviate the pressure facing our young offensive linemen. Smith's role also increased with Watson and Moore suffering injuries at different points of the season. He finished the season with 14 catches for 131 yards and 1 touchdown. He was also considered the backup fullback at times.
Why Keeping Him Could Make Sense: Even if he isn't elite, Smith is pretty much an all-around tight end who you can keep around for a cheap price. He also showed no fear of getting on the nerves of the opposition; in a way, you could say that Smith had a big assist in the Browns' victory over the Seahawks (he got defensive lineman Red Bryant ejected at the end of the game). Four tight ends isn't too many, so even if Jordan Cameron sees more action this year (not a guarantee), the Browns would carry another tight end away -- why not have that be Smith again?
What the Browns Should Do: Smith has been a nice player for the Browns, and I wouldn't mind having him back again. However, it would be understandable if the Browns sought out another player instead, since it isn't like Smith was one-of-a-kind. This one could go either way.
Now it's your turn -- vote in the poll below on whether or not the team should try to re-sign Alex Smith!