Carolina added another safety in free agency this week, Reggie Smith of San Francisco. The (6’0, 200 lb) former Oklahoma safety was a 49er draft pick in 2008, 3rd round. Smith has been behind a unique set of circumstances in SF, only starting due to injury until last year, when he was expected to play at FS in place of free agent Dashon Goldson. Smith got hurt (torn meniscus) and the team re-signed Goldson – who is currently the team’s franchise player. The team wanted him to return as well, but Smith was looking for a starting opportunity.
It’s good that the team recognizes the issues at safety as just as dire as the corner spot opposite Chris Gamble. Of course, before jumping off the deep end, also consider that the team had placed former Philly starter Sean Considine and former Bear Kevin Payne as veterans on the roster last year, with Considine making the roster but being cut mid-season as part of a special teams shift (the Bears game, which was a special teams nightmare). So it’s not somehow a quick reaction, a new reaction, or even an over-reaction. It’s not even that different from last year. But the urgency may be greater now, with last year’s failures and Jerry Richardson’s statement about Martin at the end of the year.
There was talk that Carolina would be interested in drafting a safety, but that appears unlikely now. There would also seem to be a bit of support for Sherrod Martin to move back to cornerback, where he does have experience (and size). Camp comments from last year suggest that Martin may have been tried there at one point, had there been more time, we would’ve seen that. The team eventually used Jordan Pugh at nickel corner for a brief time, and then abandoned it. Martin, Pugh, Smith, and Godfrey all have experience at corner, and all are currently at safety with newcomer Haruki Nakamura.
Carolina does have flexibility, however, and that’s a step up. Hopefully, it leads to better safety play. The new additions, at the least, seem to have the ability to make their assignments first, and worry about making plays second.