The explosive Brad Smith became well-known over the last few seasons as the Jets have progressively worked him into their offensive and special teams schemes. He's well-known for his great kick returns (i.e. losing his shoe on a kick return for a touchdown on Thanksgiving against the Bengals) and running the Jets version of the wildcat, which has come to be known as the "Seminole."
After the 2010 season, Smith became a free agent along with other receivers like Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. Since these three receivers all became free agents after 2010, it brings up the question: Is Brad Smith important enough to re-sign?
While Smith brings a lot to the table (being able to play as a receiver yet throw the ball and play on special teams), the problem the Jets are faced with is that they need traditional wide receivers. As of right now, the only starter they have on their roster is Jericho Cotchery.
On top of this pressing issue, Smith, Edwards and Holmes are not the only free agents that will be missed if the Jets cannot re-sign them. Other players the Jets have to worry about signing once the lockout is lifted are David Harris, Tony Richardson (if he chooses not to retire), Shaun Ellis and Antonio Cromartie.
Not only do the Jets have other players that are of more importance, they may have given away their intentions regarding Smith during the draft last month. Once the Jets took care of their defensive line needs in the first and third rounds, the Jets went after some skill players. In the later rounds, they drafted two wide receivers—Jeremy Kerley and Scotty Mcknight.
Will Brad Smith return to the Jets in 2011?
McKnight does not pose much of a threat to Smith's future with the Jets as he is more of a conventional receiver and will only be seen on offense. Meanwhile, Jeremy Kerley is the man Smith should be worried about. The fifth round pick out of TCU will likely be looked at as Smith's replacement as he has similar features that the Jets will take advantage of.
He was not a quarterback in college like Smith was, but Kerley possesses talents that will be useful on special teams. Quick in and out of his cuts, Kerley would make a good kick returner and a good target for quarterback Mark Sanchez when and if the Jets run slants—which became a favorite of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer as the Jets ran slants to beat both the Lions and Browns in consecutive overtime games in 2010.
Earlier this month, Sanchez led the second Jets West Camp in Mission Viejo, California (at his old high school) where many Jets skill players were in attendance. One of which was Smith (the only one of the three receivers that are currently free agents), who, towards the beginning of the camp, was interviewed by ESPN's Rich Cimini, and said he: "suspects the team drafted Kerley to cover itself up in the event that he leaves as a free agent."
As of right now, the future does not look very bright for Smith; The Jets will likely let him stay as a free agent as they pursue other free agents and try to sign players they drafted. In the event that the Jets do not re-sign him, Smith's options may be limited as he will likely be an expensive free agent since he'd be a restricted free agent. Once the lockout is lifted, this situation will unravel and it will not take long for fans to see whether or not Smith will be returning as a member of the New York Jets.
For Jeremy Kerley's highlight tape go here.
Follow me on Twitter: @chris_deezy