March 11, 2015 2:32 PM PT
ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent Tight End Lee Smith, the club announced Wednesday.
Smith, 27, joins the Raiders after four seasons with the Buffalo Bills (2011-14). Smith’s career totals include 56 games played with 34 starts, 20 receptions for 144 yards (7.2 avg.) and three touchdowns.
Smith joined the Bills via waivers from the New England Patriots shortly before the 2011 regular season. In 2014, Smith appeared in 14 games and led all Bills tight ends with 10 starts. He hauled in seven catches for 42 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown in the Bills’ season-ending victory over New England.
Smith appeared in every game for the Bills from 2012-13, starting 21-of-32 games played during that span. He recorded two receiving touchdowns in 2012, a career high, and totaled a career-high 78 receiving yards in 2013.
The Powell, Tenn., native was originally selected by the Patriots in the fifth round (159th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Marshall. Smith totaled 75 receptions for 791 yards and three touchdowns, and served two seasons as a captain on the Thundering Herd. In his senior year, Smith ranked second on the team with 38 receptions for 358 yards (9.4 avg.), earning him All-Conference USA honors and an Allstate Good Works Team nomination.
Lee Smith signed a 3 year / $9,100,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including $3,100,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $3,033,333
The Oakland Raiders Media Conference Call Q & A
Q: Can you describe how this deal came together?
Smith: “Obviously, after finishing my first four years out there in Buffalo, it became pretty clear that I was going to be hitting free agency, so [tight ends coach] Bobby Johnson and [quarterbacks coach] Todd Downing were obviously out here, both of which I’ve had a relationship with in the past and have been around me and coached me. I figured that they were there and when it was time for teams to get in touch with me, that maybe they would be one of the ones to do it, at least I hoped so. I hoped those two guys would have good things to say about me. So when they call, it was rewarding to know that I kind of impressed those guys over the years and they trust me to get out here and get to work, and get this thing going in the right direction with them.”
Q: You were used a lot as a blocking tight end in Buffalo. Do you see that as your strength? Can you do more on the receiving end than you’ve shown so far?
Smith: “You get to work every Sunday for this football team, so whatever package that ends up being is obviously humbling and rewarding for me. I’ve got four kids at home and I get their support by playing football for a living. Just like anybody else out there, I obviously think I can contribute in many ways to help this football team win. But whatever those ways are, as long as I’m out there playing football every Sunday, then I’ll be having a lot of fun and enjoying helping this team win. So sure, of course I can catch the ball if they threw it to me, but whatever they ask me to do is what I’ll do.”
Q: What is the one part of your game you take the most pride in?
Smith: “Over the years, people have kind of referred to me as a lunch-pail guy and I take a lot of pride in that. Hopefully, the guy that I’m putting my hand in the dirt beside trusts me and can count on me to fight my tail off until the whistle blows, and maybe here and there I might not hear the whistle blow. (laughing) So just the grinding aspect of my game and getting in there with the hogs and fighting my tail off, and hopefully getting the running backs of the Oakland Raiders to the second level is kind of what gets me fired up and excited to play ball.”
Q: If playing in offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s traditionally run-heavy offense is a natural fit for his blocking capabilities?
Smith: “Absolutely. I’m excited about getting to work with the plans that we have here in Oakland as far as offensively and running the ball. Obviously, Derek’s doing great things and is a great young talent. It never hurts the guy taking snaps to get that run game going, it makes it a lot easier. Obviously, that’s kind of what we want to do around here, and if they think that I can help with that, then you know what, that’s very humbling. I’ll buckle my chinstrap and go to work and hopefully, do everything they envision me being able to do.”