The New Orleans Saints will move Will Smith from defensive end to outside linebacker when they open up OTAs on Tuesday, May 21 according to Larry Holder. Smith had been a 4-3 defensive end for all of his nine seasons in New Orleans, but as the Saints shift to a 3-4 defense under new coordinator Rob Ryan, they will try Smith in a new spot.
At 6'3, 282 pounds, Smith is not built like the typically leaner 3-4 outside linebacker and there is some concern that the veteran doesn't have the speed he once did. Smith took a pay cut from $9 million to $3 million to remain with the Saints this season, but time will tell if his new position makes for a good fit.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton both said they expect the same level of production at outside linebacker that he gave them as a 4-3 defensive end. "I think initially that right outside position will be very similar to what he's played for us in the past," Payton said. Both men indicated that Smith will "start out" at outside linebacker, but didn't rule out a possible move to defensive end in the 3-4 scheme.