Former Saints defensive end/linebacker Will Smith is in New England for a free agent visit with the Patriots on Tuesday, ESPN’s John Clayton is reporting.
Smith, a first-round draft pick out of Ohio State for the Saints in 2004, led New Orleans in sacks in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. The Saints won their lone Super Bowl trophy in the last year he led the team in sacks. He even intercepted a pass in the team’s 45-14 victory against Arizona in an NFC divisional playoff game in 2009.
Smith spent most of his career as a 4-3 defensive end, but last year he was asked to become a 3-4 outside linebacker after Rob Ryan took over as New Orleans’ defensive coordinator. He tore an anterior cruciate knee ligament in a preseason exhibition game and missed the rest of the season, during which New Orleans’ defense finished ranked fourth.
With Smith set to turn 33 in July and due a base salary of more than $10 million in 2014, the Saints released him in February.
Smith’s 67½ career sacks trail only Rickey Jackson’s 115, Wayne Martin’s 82.5 and Pat Swilling’s 76.5 in Saints record books. Only Jackson (38) and Swilling (24) forced more fumbles for New Orleans than did Smith (20).
A few days after his release, Smith told The Advocate he wasn’t ready to retire. “I definitely want to play until I don’t have the passion,” Smith said. “I want to play until I can’t at a high level anymore.”
At defensive end, New England has Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette. Andre Carter, who spent 2013 with the Patriots, is a free agent.
Grubbs softball game pushed back
Originally set for May 15, Saints guard Ben Grubbs’ second annual charity softball game at Zephyr Field is now scheduled for May 21 at 6 p.m. More than 30 current New Orleans players are supposed to participate.
Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit local Boys and Girls clubs. The public can purchase tickets at Ticketmaster (800.745.3000 by phone or Ticketmaster.com online) and at the Zephyr Field box office.