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Jets, Rams finalize Smith-Hunter trade

The SportsXchange

It turns out the Rams won't get any cap relief from the trade of tackle Jason Smith after all.

The agreement that was consummated between the Rams and Jets on the night of Aug. 27 that brought tackle Wayne Hunter to St. Louis wasn't official until late Tuesday and wasn't done by 3 p.m. Central in time to make it on the league personnel report.

That was party because both players had to travel to their new cities and take physicals. But it was also linked to an adjustment on Smith's contract and the paperwork had to be completed before the deal was finalized.

Smith was scheduled to be paid $4 million guaranteed this year and Hunter $2.45 million guaranteed. However, the Jets weren't willing to take on all of Smith's salary, so his contract was restructured with the Rams paying him a $1.55 million bonus and the Jets paying him $2.45 million in salary, the same total they would have paid Hunter.

The result is the Rams will still have a $4 million combined cap charge for Smith and Hunter.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said, "We just felt like it was a good deal for both teams and probably a better deal for both players - just a fresh start."

Hunter should have a seamless transition to the Rams' offense because of the presence of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who was with the Jets with Hunter. Agent Kenny Zuckerman, who represents Hunter, told USA Today, "It happened to be the right place at the right time and also similar type of guys, who were struggling, who could flourish in new situations. Wayne's really excited to be reunited with Schotty. He feels this could be a boost for him."

As for Smith, when asked why it didn't work out with the Rams, Fisher said, "I just got here, but clearly, I think, Barry's (Richardson) won that job because of his experience. I wish Jason the best. He did the best he could. He actually really improved this year. I think coach Boo (offensive line coach Paul Boudreau) was a huge impact on him. He played pretty well the other day, but I think it's best that we just go a different direction."

Smith was the second overall pick in the 2009 draft and was never on the field long enough to have any chance of establishing himself. He started five games as a rookie and played in eight, missing the remainder of the games first with a knee injury and then a concussion.

He did start 15 games in 2010 when the Rams were 7-9. However, he suffered another concussion and a neck injury against Dallas on Oct. 23 last season and missed the remainder of the year.

In the offseason, Smith agreed to a salary cut from $10 million to $4 million guaranteed and the restructured deal also included a roster bonus of $11.25 million that was due on the first day of the 2013 league year.

Early in camp, he was replaced on the first unit by Barry Richardson and Richardson has started all three preseason games.
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