Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Eagles, not Giants, sign WR Steve Smith
By Dan Graziano
The Philadelphia Eagles announced Wednesday night that they have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with former New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith. It's the latest in the string of high-profile free-agent signings the Eagles have made since free agency began and the latest free-agency setback for the Giants, who'd hoped to re-sign Smith in spite of the fact that he's recovering from knee surgery and isn't likely to be ready in time to start the season.
Smith had 107 catches for 1,220 yards in his 2009 breakout season with the Giants and remained one of Eli Manning's most reliable targets in 2010 until he suffered a knee injury that cost him the second half of the season and required microfracture surgery to repair. I spoke with Manning Wednesday afternoon about what Smith's absence would mean to him and how the Giants planned to replace him in the passing game.
For the Eagles, once Smith is healthy enough to play, he'll give them additional depth at receiver, which could be important depending on the status of DeSean Jackson (who's in a contract dispute with the team) and Jeremy Maclin (who has yet to practice this training camp due to an undisclosed illness). It's unclear when the Eagles expect to have Smith on the field, but if he does come back healthy he'll help them deal better with those situations. The Eagles also have Jason Avant, who has performed well for them in recent seasons in a slot receiver role similar to the one Smith filled in New York when he was healthy.
Earlier in free agency, the salary cap-strapped Giants tried and failed to sign Plaxico Burress, who went to the Jets instead. Now they've lost Smith, and it's hard to say whether or not they'll still go after receiving help. Former Jet Jerricho Cotchery remains on the market, and the Giants could have interest in him now that they've lost out on Smith. In the meantime, they're hoping someone like Domenik Hixon or Victor Cruz steps up into the No. 3 receiver spot behind Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.