Oakland has released defensive tackle Antonio Smith, who was slated to make $4 million this season. Smith started 16 games for the Raiders last season, notching 3 sacks and 18 tackles. The timing of the release seems to indicate the release is more about the player performance vs cost ratio than anything else.
Normally when a player like Smith is set to be released, he would be cut at the start of the free agency season if the team felt they were prepared to move on. This is done both for salary purposes and as a courtesy for the veteran player who will now be looking for a new home. The Raiders plans for Smith may have changed once they signed Dan Williams to a $25 million contract, but that signing occured nearly three weeks ago and they could have moved faster on a release if this was a direct replacement. I’d venture a guess that the Raiders felt Smith should play for less in base salary this year with the difference coming in incentives, especially since Smith and Williams should have complemented each other well.
Smith was brought in last season as part of the Raiders odd spending spree on mainly older or less desirable players. Of their signings Smith, Lamarr Woodley, Matt Schaub, Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, Tarell Brown, Pat Sims, Carlos Rogers and Usama Young are no longer with the team. Justin Tuck, Austin Howard, Donald Penn, Kevin Boothe, Charles Woodson and James Jones remain on the roster.