The St. Louis Rams have a great deal of money tied up in offensive tackle Jason Smith. In the years since drafting him with the second overall pick in 2009, they have had little in the way of return for that investment. Now, with a new head coach and eventually a new GM, the team may cut Smith if he isn't willing to take a pay cut, according to Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk.
Smith has been criticized for his, um, less than enthusiastic play. I've been told by two sources in the last year, one a former player, that Smith suffers in part from a lack of passion for the game. That's hard to prove, but his disappointing and inconsistent play has been quite clear.
Smith is due $10 million in salary this season, but the Rams would only be on the hook for $1 million of it if they release him. Keeping him at a reduced rate would at least give him a chance to compete for a job, perhaps providing a little extra motivation. The Rams are thin at offensive tackle without Smith, but they can't tolerate his lackluster play if they plan to protect another pricey investment in Sam Bradford.
Yesterday, new head coach Jeff Fisher described his approach as "disciplined, tough and physical," none of which would apply to Smith. I wonder a little if Fisher's higher expectations might be of more benefit to a player like Smith as opposed to Spagnuolo's tact of the coddling, everyone's a winner t-ball coach. But I don't hold out much hope for Smith's future based on the last three years.
Smith is also recovering from his third concussion since coming to the NFL, and the second that forced him to injured reserve. Those are not easy injuries to comeback from.
Teams do themselves no favors by hanging onto failed draft picks, waiting and waiting for those players to finally reach their potential.