For the second time in his three-year career, St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Jason Smith will end his season on the injured reserve list. Smith is struggling with a concussion he suffered in week 7 against the Cowboys while trying to tackle a Dallas defender returning a fumble. The whole thing is sort of an apt description of the Rams season, distinguished mostly by miscues and injuries.
Smith has suffered a total of three concussions since being drafted by the Rams with the second overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, two of them serious enough to end his season. It's far to wonder if his career is in jeopardy. In fact, I don't wonder if the injuries, particularly the concussion, he suffered as a rookie did not adversely impact his development as a player.
In five starts, Smith showed potential, but also displayed the inconsistency expected of a rookie. He never seemed able to shake that inconsistency enough to be the kind of lockdown offensive tackle teams expect of a second overall pick.
The Rams have a decision to make with Smith next season. Only Sam Bradford has a more expensive contract of all the players on the Rams roster. He has a $10 million base salary next season, and his contract runs through 2014. Depending on how the guaranteed money fits against the cap, cutting him outright might be a viable option. Trading him is always a possibility, but the contract/performance balance is not going to be very attractive to other teams. They could also just live him another year, depending on what happens with his injuries, but reconcile to a backup job. Since being replaced by Adam Goldberg, there has been no visible dropoff at right tackle for the Rams. We'll see if we can say the same thing with Harvey Dahl moving out there this week.