Eagles agree to deal with WR Smith
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.
The way Giants coach Tom Coughlin was talking Wednesday morning, the re-signing of Steve Smith was a formality waiting to happen and the real key was getting the valuable but injured receiver back onto the field as soon as possible.
"It's going to be kind of a long haul for Steve," Coughlin said. "Hopefully we can cut through some of that and see where it goes. That's all I can say. He looks good, though."
Shockingly, Smith's recovery and whatever "long haul" he faces is no longer the concern of the Giants. Or perhaps it is. Smith later in the day signed a one-year deal with the Giants' chief nemesis and arch rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, continuing what has been a pretty awful summer talent drain.
Smith's deal is for $4 million, with $2 million guaranteed.
Coming off microfracture knee surgery, Smith was not a high priority for anyone in free agency and it always seemed he would return to the Giants. He came in from California this week and on Monday met with Giants coaches and front office personnel. Tuesday, he was checked out by the Giants medical staff, which prompted Coughlin to say Smith has "got a ways to go" before he could be of any help on the field.
Still, the Giants had an offer on the table for a gifted possession receiver who in 2009 set a franchise single-season record with 107 catches.
Smith on a conference call with the Philadelphia media said, "Maybe Coughlin has a plan or something up his sleeve when he said that."
He did not agree with the Giants' assessment that he was not close to playing, saying he could "realistically be out there" in the first four weeks of the season.
Smith wrote on his Facebook page that he will "always cherish my time in New York and the Super Bowl victory" and added he never expected this but "unfortunately the business aspect proved that the Eagles wanted me to be a part of their organization MUCH more than the Giants did."
Given the serious nature of the knee injury he suffered last season, the Giants made an offer to Smith and there did not appear to be any legitimate competition for his services. And, just like that, the Eagles — who should already be crowned as Super Bowl champions if the trophy was handed out based on offseason acquisitions — stuck it to the Giants in a big way.
"He's a Pro Bowl-quality receiver that we will work into our offense as soon as he is ready to go," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "We feel very good about our current group of receivers and Steve adds another dimension to that position. He's played very well against us in the past few years and we're happy to have him on board."
Smith, 26, would have been a marquee free agent if not for the injury, which occurred Dec. 12 in Minnesota when he tore the articular cartilage in his left knee. The Giants knew Smith would not be ready for the start of this season but did expect him to be able to play sometime in 2011, perhaps by midseason or a bit earlier.
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