It took longer than expected, and wasn’t done in time for practice Tuesday morning at the Continuity X Training Center in Earth City, but the St. Louis Rams’ trade of former No. 1 draft pick Jason Smith to the New York Jets for fellow lineman Wayne Hunter, became official late in the day, after both players passed physicals with their new teams.
Smith, who was taken by St. Louis No. 2 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, lost his starting job with the Rams to offseason free agent pickup Barry Richardson, making him expendable.
While Hunter, who was replaced in the Jets lineup after giving up 2 1/2 sacks in an August 18 preseason game, found himself in the same boat as Smith, which is why the two clubs decided it was time to cut ties with the two players.
“We’ve been talking to the Jets for a week or so,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said after practice Tuesday. “Things started to pick up, and we just felt like it was a good deal for both teams, and probably a better deal for both players – just a fresh start. So we went ahead, and were able to put it together yesterday.”
It was believed that one reason why the Rams were willing to let go of Smith, was so they could receive a bit of salary cap relief from his $4 million salary.
Hunter is due $2.45 million this year, so the Rams were looking at gaining $1.55 million in cap relief. But in a surprising twist, the Rams will pay the $1.55 million difference in Smith’s salary, thus bringing the team no relief this year.
“I wish Jason the best,” Fisher said. “He did the best he could. He actually really improved this year. I think Coach ‘Boos’ (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.”
The Rams won’t practice on Wednesday, but will have an informal walk-through at Scott Air Force Base, and with the club’s final preseason game on Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens, and no practice likely on Friday, Hunter might not make his first appearance with his new club until the weekend.
Rams add defensive end
St. Louis made another roster move late Tuesday, claiming former Oakland Raiders defensive end Mason Brodine off waivers.
The 6’7, 270-pound Elm Creek, Neb., native, was a two-year starter at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, an NCAA Division II program, where Brodine graduated as the school’s all-time leader in quarterback sacks.
Brodine was signed by the Raiders following the 2011 lockout, and spent most of the season on Oakland’s practice squad. He did dress for three games last year, and played in two of them, before being cut on Monday, when all clubs had to trim their rosters to 75 players.
To make room for Brodine, the Rams cut wide receiver Mike Campbell.