Sean Smith deal a high-value move for Raiders
The deal: Four years, $40 million, $20 million guaranteed.
What it means for the Raiders: David Amerson’s breakout season means the Raiders had one starter in place at the cornerback position. Oakland desperately needed help opposite him, however, after DJ Hayden finished 105th out of 111 qualifying corners. He struggled in coverage in particular, allowing 70 receptions from 101 targets for 772 yards, five touchdowns, one pick, and four pass deflections. Hayden allowed a QB rating of 104.1. and finished with a measly coverage grade of 35.1. The need for a complement to Amerson was obvious, yet the Raiders avoided overpaying.
Compared to Janoris Jenkins’ $62 million deal, Smith’s contract looks like a steal. $8 million per year puts him right around 20th in terms of highest-paid corners. It’s the perfect range, considering he finished as our 12th graded corner in 2015. While he gave up too many big plays (five touchdowns), he made his fair share of plays himself (two picks and eight pass deflections). Smith also limited opposing receivers to a catch rate of just 53.2 percent (42-of-79 targets). He’s one of the few corners capable of covering the physical specimens at receiver in press-man. Smith provides Oakland defensive coordinator Ken Norton flexibility to run any coverage he chooses.
What it means for the Chiefs: After Tamba Hali’s re-signing, we broke down the subsequent priorities for the Chiefs. Smith came in at third on that list, behind Derrick Johnson and Jaye Howard, and we speculated that he may be on his way out of Kansas City. Financial requirements proved a major factor. Marcus Peters locks up one corner spot on the cheap, while Eric Berry consumes a significant amount of cap, having been given the franchise tag. The Chiefs couldn’t re-sign everyone, so they decided to prioritize the front-seven. It leaves Kansas City on the lookout for a new No. 1 corner.