Jason Smith's Restructured Contract Shows off His Character

Steven GerwelContributor IIIApril 22, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 26: Jason Smith #77 of the St. Louis Rams blocks against the Kansas City Chiefs during a pre-season game at Arrowhead Stadium  on August 26, 2010 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Rams defeated the Chiefs, 14-10. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The St. Louis Rams offensive line gave up 55 sacks in 2011, which was more than any other NFL team, so there were not a lot of positive comments made when discussing the group. 

Fans had little forgiveness and understanding in their hearts when discussing the unit, especially since the team spared no expense when assembling the group. 

The line featured three high-priced free agents (Harvey Dahl, Jacob Bell, Jason Brown), a second-round draft pick from 2010 (Rodger Saffold) and the No. 2 overall pick from 2009 (Jason Smith). 

Perhaps, the fans would have shown some sympathy towards the unit's failures had the group primarily consisted of over-the-hill journeymen and mid-round draft picks. But the group was getting paid an awful lot of money to be in the running for "worst offensive line in football." 

However, Jason Smith is apparently in total agreement with the fanbase, as he just took a monster pay cut that dropped his $10 million salary in 2012 to merely $4 million, resulting in a sizable $6 million savings for the Rams. 

Smith likely took more heat than any of his fellow linemen due to his lofty draft status. As the No. 2 overall pick in 2009, he was expected to develop into a franchise left tackle, not a below-average right tackle. 

But his draft status and the $61.77 million contract he signed as a rookie made him an easy target for those wanting to unleash frustration as a result of the team's failures. 

Even I took some shots at Smith in the past. 

I once refused to use his name, and simply referred to him as the "shopping cart" lined up to the right of Harvey Dahl.

Also, I questioned his toughness on one occasion after he missed a significant amount of the 2010 training camp with a pinky toe injury. 

But make no mistake, Smith has humbly accepted his fate and has acknowledged his shortcomings. And if early indications mean anything, we can expect Smith to give it his all from now on, regardless of whether he fails or thrives in the end.

Smith recently gave everyone a glimpse of his new-and-improved self in a recent article from STLtoday.com.

"I have a new outlook on life by faith," Smith said. "I want to work on my relationship with the players to become a better teammate, a better friend in some areas"

He also discussed how he can improve on the field. 

"I need to be more fluid and relaxed. I need to relax and play ball, and stop thinking. There's no reason for anyone to walk around stuck-up and scared. I can't accurately keep the quarterback clean if I'm tense. Just little things like that."

Smith is clearly enlightened and anxious to move forward. He added that he's "expecting a change" in his on-field performance, which is exactly what needs to happen for him to gain the support of a highly disappointed fan base. 

However, regardless of the outcome, Smith truly showed off his character by not only taking a pay cut, but by making it clear that he's fearlessly moving forward despite a concussion that ended his 2011 season prematurely.

But now that he has been cleared to play, he will do everything he can to revive his career. And as a result, hopefully, he will finally revive his image in the eyes of Rams Nation.