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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Rams think they found value in WR Smith ..

    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    After coming up empty in attempts to land more highly regarded wide receivers in free agency, the Rams took a roll of the dice last week in signing Steve Smith.

    "First off, he's a very first-class young man," coach Jeff Fisher said. "Overcame a difficult situation with his knee. The guy had an extraordinary workout, and has a chance to get back where he was in 2009."

    And one other thing.

    "In addition to that he went to my high school and went to USC, so that gives him a chance," Fisher said, smiling. "I just thought I throw that out there."

    That would be Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Calif., home of the Toreados.

    Were it not for the knee problems, Smith probably still would be playing for the New York Giants, who drafted him in the second round of the 2007 draft out of Southern Cal.

    Smith, who is 5 feet 11 and 195 pounds, showed steady progress in his early time with the Giants. Then, with past mainstays Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer no long with the team, Smith busted out in 2009.

    He caught a franchise-record 107 passes, good for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns, earning a Pro Bowl berth. But then came the knee problems. First came microfracture surgery on his left knee in December 2010.

    He then signed with Philadelphia in 2011, but managed only 11 catches for 124 yards in nine games. Smith's only touchdown of the season came in a 17-10 victory over his old club, the Giants, in November.

    He experienced more knee problems later in the season and was placed on the Eagles' injured reserve list because of a bone bruise in the left knee.

    "Now, he had a significant injury," Rams general manager Les Snead said. "What we said is that it's a risk worth taking because usually an injury like that takes a year" to overcome.

    If you go by that timeline, the worst should be behind Smith. The original injury originally occurred Dec. 13, 2010. And then Smith found himself back on IR, because of the bone bruise, on Dec. 12, 2011.

    When Smith came in for his free-agent visit to Rams Park, the team worked him out to get a feel for how he moved on that left knee.

    "From a knee standpoint, he looked well," Snead said. "I think going through an offseason conditioning program will get him back in shape. And the guy is a very smart football player, intelligent football player. (He) loves the game, (is) passionate about reviving his career. That's why we did it."

    Smith, who turns 27 in May, also is known as a smooth route-runner. Because it's only a one-year deal — his base salary is $1 million — the Rams aren't committed to a big contract.

    "So if he can get back to his previous '09, '10 levels where he was a Pro Bowl player helping a team win a Super Bowl, then he helps us," Snead said.

    A healthy Smith would've been rated higher than many of the wideouts in this year's free agency pool. Then again, as Snead points out: "If his knee was right, he probably would've been re-signed by the New York Giants (after the 2010 season). He happened to get the knee injury in his unrestricted free agency year."

    Now, after struggling in Philly, Smith gets another shot in St. Louis where the Rams are desperate for help at the position. Their current roster includes Danario Alexander, who has been slowed by his own knee issues; Danny Amendola, a restricted free agent coming off triceps surgery; Dominique Curry; Brandon Gibson; Greg Salas, who's coming off a broken leg; and Austin Pettis, who will miss the first two games of 2012 under league suspension.

    Suffice to say this could be a great opportunity for Smith.

    "He's looking for an opportunity to prove that he can still do it. We have a need at receiver," Snead said. "So it's a nice fit for both."

    Even with Smith under contract, the Rams are still looking for veteran help. Hence the visit of free-agent wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Cotchery, 29, didn't do much last season in Pittsburgh (16 catches for 237 yards and two TDs in 13 games).

    But he was productive previously playing with the New York Jets, including an 1,130-yard season in 2007.

    His offensive coordinator during his last five seasons with the Jets was Brian Schottenheimer, now the Rams' coordinator. So there's a comfort level there and Cotchery should have no problems learning the offense if he ends up signing with the Rams.

  2. #2
    RAMFANRAIDERHATER is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams think they found value in WR Smith ..

    Although I'm a little tired of Rams and WR's with leg issues, I think this was a good signing. First of all, it's on the cheap, having little impact on cap, and second, it could turn out to be a great steal if the gentleman has returned to form. I'll take a good route running WR with soft hands over a speed burner that couldn't catch a cold. It's a no-risk move and could pay huge dividends IF he has overcome his injury.
    Restoration complete

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams think they found value in WR Smith ..

    Some contract details,via profootball talk:

    Steve Smith's one-year contract with the Rams has a $1 million base salary and another $1.5 million available in per-game roster bonuses.

    So it's a one-year, $2.5 million deal theoretically, but none of the per-game roster bonuses are guaranteed. They're valued at $93,750 apiece, and will be paid if and only if he's active on game days. Ultimately, it appears Smith was guaranteed no money on the one-year, prove-it deal. He could conceivably be cut in training camp if Smith fails to show his troublesome knee has healed.

  4. #4
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams think they found value in WR Smith ..

    Minimal risk with the possibility of some reward if he's healthy. The Rams did a good job getting a deal done that reflects that.

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