The Broncos and Patriots worked out a trade that sent defensive end Le Kevin Smith to Denver. There is obviously familiarity between the sides. Josh McDaniels served as offensive coordinator for Bill Belichick before getting the head coaching job in Denver.
"Bill's great to work with," McDaniels said. "We continue to have a solid relationship and we didn't have any arguments about this thing."
-- McDaniels ran a physical camp, with all but four practices in full pads, and took it easy on them at the end. On the final day of practice he cut out one session, and the one remaining session was at half speed.
"I commend them on the way they approached training camp and worked," McDaniels said.
The Broncos traded a fifth-round pick in 2010 to New England for Smith, who should immediately contribute in Denver's line rotation. The Broncos are looking for big defensive linemen and at 308 pounds Smith fits in well.
The issue for Smith is he doesn't have much more experience than anyone else in the rotation, especially at end. He played 31 games over three years with the Patriots, but has no NFL starts.
New England Patriots rookie offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, left, blocks defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith during NFL football training camp at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
New England Impact
The move to send Smith to Denver makes sense when one breaks down the roster, trying to project the final 53. Smith was a bubble player at best, and with the performance of some of the rookies, he became an outsider looking in.
New England had high hopes for the former Nebraska product after selecting him in the sixth round (206th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound defender was brought in to solidify the interior line. Some Draft experts projected Smith much higher in terms of potential, but a knee injury caused his stock to slide.
Smith isn't quite built to be the rush end in a 3-4, and he hasn't quite stout enough to be an anchor at nose tackle. When the Patriots employ the 4-3 scheme they've been working with this training camp, Smith has more of an opportunity to get on the field
Smith was always on the outside of the Top 5 defensive lineman on the Patriots roster. He fell just behind DE's Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Jarvis Green as well as interior DL's Vince Wilfork and Mike Wright.
Titus Adams and Stephen Williams are another pair of bodies in the mix with Williams the newcomer to the team this season. Both are longer shots to unseat the rookies Pryor and Brace, but Adams has shown glimpses in his recurring stints on the roster.
With Smith in Denver, New England recoups a draft pick (their fourth) they had traded to the Raiders for LB Derrick Burgess. The trade was Burgess for a 3rd and a conditional 4th. With the pick from Denver, the Raiders get a 3rd and a 5th.
By getting back their fourth, New England improved the value of their 2010 Draft to one where they can pick 97-128 in the fourth round from 129-160 in the fifth round (not including compensatory spots).
Positive / Negative
PRO: Unloading Smith now creates an opportunity to retain Pryor or Richard. If one, or both, rookies can show promise in the remainder of the preseason it gives the Patriots a chance to retain some developmental talent with more potential upside than Smith.
Netting a fifth round pick is better than releasing Smith without compensation. The Patriots have parted ways with players of Smith's caliber before without getting compensation in return. Smith wouldn't have earned the Patriots a compensatory pick because he would not have left as a fee agent, he would be a cut victim, therefore not subject to compensatory eligibility.
The fifth round pick becomes a fourth round by default as mentioned earlier in relation to the Derrick Burgess trade.
CON: Smith is easily one of the better backups, proving his worth when injuries befell the Patriots defensive line in recent years. Pryor, Richard, Williams are all unknowns.
According to reports, the Patriots also gave Denver a seventh round pick to get a fifth for Smith.
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