In a move many expected due to financial reasons, Lee Smith was released on the day the Raiders signed several of their draft picks selected in last week’s NFL Draft.
On one of those days where you’re reminded the hard way the NFL is a business, the Raiders announced they had released tight end Lee Smith just a few months after giving the veteran his $1.1 million roster bonus. The Raiders save about $2.6 million in 2019 cap space by cutting the veteran.
The release came on the same day the Raiders announced the signing of several of last week’s draft picks, including 2019 fourth-round selection Foster Moreau – also a tight end. Team also signed fourth-round picks wide cornerback Isaiah Johnson and DE Maxx Crosby, fifth-round pick wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, and seventh-round DE Quinton Bell.
In another move, coming a day after free agent running back Isaiah Crowell was lost for the season due to an Achilles injury, the club re-signed veteran running back Doug Martin. Martin spent 2018 with the Raiders and played in all 16 games making nine starts for the Raiders. He led the team with 172 carries, 723 yards, and four rushing touchdowns.
Smith became expendable when Oakland drafted the talented Moreau out of LSU. Although primarily a blocker for the Tigers – and a good one at that – Moreau is expected to block and catch passes in Gruden’s offense. He has good hands and is seen as a player who can join free agent Luke Wilson and veterans Derek Carrier and Darren Waller for time at the position.
Spending four seasons with the Raiders, Smith was also an outspoken defender of quarterback Derek Carr through his struggles, especially early in 2018. Smith, 31, also played for seasons with the Buffalo Bills.