The 6-foot-1, 217-pound former third-round draft pick from Central Florida has rushed for 1,723 career yards and 12 touchdowns.
He has also caught 80 passes for 701 yards.
As a rookie in 2008, Smith led the Lions with 976 rushing yard and eight touchdowns.
Signed to a three-year, $1.79 million contract before that season, the Lions didn't give Smith a tender offer on March 3, 2011. So, that made him an unrestricted free agent.
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Patriots Insider Take: Jon Scott @jscottNFL
Adding Smith to a long list of backs who have come through Foxborough for a closer look is indicative of the Patriots desire to kick the tires on free agents who could help if the opportunity presented itself. That opportunity could come from an unfortunate injury to another player currently on the roster, or a series of events which may leave New England shorthanded at the running back position.
Smith was on New England's radar coming out of college, and again when he flirted with free agency last year Aside from wanting to kick the tires on a possible replacement back, New England could be looking to add depth after rookie Stevan Ridley missed last week's game. Should Ridley's absence be an ongoing concern, a back with Smith's pedigree could come in handy.
One challenge Smith is facing is his ability to bounce back from ACL surgery. For a runnig back, knee injuries can be a serious problem. Smith is carrying a lot of wear and tear on his body since his days as a college ball carrier. He set an NCAA record for most carries (450) his junior season at UCF, breaking Marcus Allen's record (405) set in 1981. He had over 900 carries by the end of his junior season, causing some Draft experts to wonder how much of a beating could his body take in the pro level.
A healthy Smith could be a key contributor for any team in the NFL. In his heyday, Smith was a force to be reckoned with. Should he find a way to return to that form, some team will be getting a top tier back at what could be a bargain basement price.
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