To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Philadelphia Eagles will not be picking up Marcus Smith’s fifth-year contract option before this week’s deadline. This much was already obvious, but now the Inquirer’s Zach Berman is reporting it to be true as well.
Smith has clearly been a big bust for the Eagles ever since being selected with the No. 26 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The story goes that the Eagles wanted six prospects at No. 22 that year but none of them made it to that pick. So then the Eagles traded down to No. 26. They were going to trade down yet again but the Chiefs taking Dee Ford scared them into thinking there would be a run on edge rushers. Thus, the Eagles forced the pick when it came to Smith.
In three seasons with the Eagles, Smith has made exactly zero starts in 37 games played. He’s recorded 12 tackles and four sacks in that span. That’s clearly awful production for a first-round pick.
Smith is easily one of Howie Roseman’s worst draft picks ... if it was Roseman who really had the final say on drafting him, that is. There’s always been speculation about who really made the final call. Kelly dodged the blame and put it on Roseman. Roseman accepted said blame after returning to the team’s personnel department following Kelly’s firing.
With the Eagles not picking up Smith’s option, he’ll now become an unrestricted free agent following the 2017 season. There’s a chance he could be hitting the market before then, however. In addition to Smith, the Eagles now have Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Steven Means, and Alex McCalister on the roster. The Eagles only kept five defensive ends last season (six if you count special teams player Bryan Braman). Smith will be competing with the likes of Means and McCalister (and any UDFA players) for a bottom of the roster spot. Cutting Smith saves the Eagles nearly $1.5 million so there’s some financial incentive to move on.
I’ll say this for Smith: although he’s been a total bust, he’s never dodged the media or blamed anyone for his failures. People probably won’t care about that, but he’s been a pretty stand-up guy.
And I wouldn’t even call him the Eagles’ biggest first round bust in recent years. To me, he’s easily second behind Nelson Agholor. Smith can at least play special teams and he showed the makings of a capable fourth defensive end last year. He had the same amount of sacks as Vinny Curry (2.5) in 200 fewer snaps played. Agholor, meanwhile, had an off-the-field issue last year and he’s been a disaster while on the field. He actively makes the team worse (see: last year’s Seahawks game). Smith is more of a non-factor than a net negative.
Still, it’s clearly time to move on. Whether the Eagles cut him this summer or he’s kept until his contract expires after this season, Smith’s days in Philadelphia are numbered.