Former Saints LB Will Smith wants to go back to playing DE
The 32-year-old Smith indicated that he would like move back to defensive end, the position he held before the 2013 season. Smith was relocated to outside linebacker under Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, but he never played a snap at the position during the regular season.
“I think I’m at heart a 4-3 defensive end,” Smith told 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 wise of Smith to remain flexible about playing both linebacker and defensive end since the highest bidder in free agency might want him to continue playing at his current position. Last year, former Colts linebacker Dwight Freeney had similar hopes of returning to defensive end in a 4-3 defense, but then San Diego Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram suffered an ACL injury and the team struck out a deal with Freeney to fill-in at the same position.
But Smith’s flexibility regarding his next NFL gig goes beyond just the position and extends to working with anyone, including former Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams – who is now currently working in the same position with the St. Louis Rams. Williams was suspended indefinitely in 2012 due to his alleged role in the Saints’ bounty scandal, but he was eventually reinstated.
Smith also received a four-game suspension as a result of his own alleged involvement in the Saints’ bounty program, but he never served suspension after former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue lifted the punishment.
“I never really had a problem with Gregg with the whole situation, so I wouldn’t really mind playing with him,” Smith said. “I always thought he was a great coach and a great person.”
However, Smith’s portrayal stands in direct contrast to the perception that Williams ratted on Jonathan Vilma to the NFL by signing a sworn document supporting the claim that Vilma offered $10,000 to anyone who knocked Brett Favre out of the January 2010 NFC title game against the Minnesota Vikings.
But considering Smith has only 31 potential teams interested in his services, it’s best not to bring up issues that will further reduce his options.