ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Raiders are releasing cornerback Sean Smith to create more salary cap room heading into free agency.
A person familiar with the move said Smith was told Monday that he will be let go before the start of the new league year on Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t annonced the move.
Smith was signed as a big-ticket free agent in 2016 to a four-year, $38 million deal. But he never played up to that level and the Raiders have decided to cut him instead of paying him $8.5 million this year.
Smith got benched in his first game with the Raiders after getting burned by New Orleans’ Brandin Cooks for a 98-yard touchdown. He allowed opposing quarterbacks to post a 116.5 passer rating when targeting him in 2016, according to SportRadar.
Smith struggled again early in 2017 and was replaced in the starting lineup by TJ Carrie, before finishing the season strong after John Pagano replaced fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. for the final six games.
Smith allowed just 15 catches on 27 targets for 202 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions over the final six games for a passer rating of 64.1 as Pagano better took advantage of Smith’s size and strength. That was down from a 113.3 rating in his one-plus season under Norton.
Smith is also facing legal problems. The Los Angeles Times reported that he will plead guilty Tuesday to a felony count of assault with great bodily injury in connection with an altercation in Pasadena last year, according to the attorney for the alleged victim.
Smith is accused of assaulting his sister’s then-boyfriend, Christopher Woods, on July 4. Two witnesses testified during a preliminary hearing in December that Smith stomped Woods’ head as he lay bleeding and unconscious.
The Times reported that as part of the deal in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Smith will be sentenced to one year in jail and three years of probation.
Oakland will again seek to bolster the secondary in free agency, looking for a starter at cornerback to pair with last year’s first-round pick Gareon Conley.
Carrie is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday and is free to talk to potential suitors this week.