AP Photo File: Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith stands on the field during an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer
NAPA — In football when a guy signs a four-year, $38 million contract ($20 million guaranteed) to play one of the NFL’s toughest positions, cornerback, you better be good and produce because you’re being paid starter’s money.
Sean Smith could be in trouble of losing his starting job after signing with Oakland two offseasons ago.
According to NBC Sports Bay Area Raiders Insider Scott Bair, Smith has fallen behind backup TJ Carrie on the depth chart at training camp and hasn’t worked with the starting 11 the past three days in favor of Carrie. Smith lined up at outside cornerback with the second team on Friday and Saturday, but was used as a hybrid linebacker/safety covering tight ends in sub packages on Sunday and at slot corner when the offense went to four wide receivers Bair further reported.
Carrie who is entering his fourth season with the team, and rookie cornerback Gareon Conley are pushing the nine-year veteran for his starting spot in training camp.
Smith played well in most of his 15 games started last season registering 40 tackles (33 solo, 7 assisted), 11 pass defensed and two interceptions, but was notoriously picked on by opposing offenses.
Smith first game with Oakland in New Orleans was atrocious, where he was burned for two touchdowns, one of those scores a 98-yarder to former Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks that got Smith bench thereafter.
According to Bair, opposing quarterbacks had a passing rating of 114.0 against Smith last year, completing 44 receptions on 77 targets for 749 yards and eight touchdowns. There was a seven-game stretch where Smith didn’t allow a touchdown, living up to the big money the Raiders rewarded him with.
But Smith started to struggle down the stretch last season while dealing with a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery.
Now Smith is in an open competition and just because he has a huge contract, doesn’t mean he is guaranteed to be the starter when the Raiders open up the 2017 season in Nashville against the Titans on Sept 10.
Information from the NBC Sports Bay Area was used in this report.