Tight end Lee Smith was entering the final year of a 3-year, $9 million deal he signed with the Raiders prior to the 2015 season. Originally he was due $2.75 million this season, but has agreed to a restructured deal that will pay him $1 million in base salary with a $1 million roster bonus as first reported by Ian Whetstone and ESPN’s Field Yates.
Raiders TE Lee Smith has indeed taken a paycut. Was scheduled to make a $2.75M base salary. Will now make $1M along with a $1M roster bonus. https://t.co/wn6pu07mBO— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 1, 2017
The new deal amounts to about $750K savings for the Raiders when you add the roster bonus, which isn’t a lot for the team. For Smith, however, it’s rather significant because that’s 25% of his salary for the season. But he can earn it back and more this season through playing time incentives.
According to a source, should the 29-year-old play 60% of the snaps next season, he can earn up to $3.25 million this season, which would be $250K more than the $3 million he was originally scheduled to make this season.
Here’s how it will work; right now he is making $2.25 million ($1 mil guaranteed, $1 roster bonus, $250K workout bonus already earned). He will receive $250K for each playing time benchmark he reaches -- 20, 30, 40, and 60 percent maxing out at $1 million in incentives. Simply put, he is taking less guaranteed money in favor of incentives which puts the amount Smith makes in his hands. That’s a good deal all around for him and the Raiders.
Smith was a force to be reckoned with in his first season with the Raiders as a blocking tight end. But after four games last season, he was lost to a broken leg.
The rest of the season they utilized offensive tackles in jumbo packages to make up for the blocking he provided, but as Todd Downing said, Smith adds that “keep you honest element” to the offense because he is also a threat as a receiver while the tackles are not.