About a month ago, TDC suggested that a survey of the market indicated that Antonio Smith could be in line for a three-year extension worth about $13,000,000.00 with approximately $5,750,000.00 guaranteed. Such a move would presumably be in the interests of both the Texans (e.g., cap relief/freeing up money to extend the contract of Brian Cushing, among others) and The Ninja Assassin (e.g., assuring Smith of getting his wish to retire a Texan). Although many of us thought a Smith extension would have gotten done at the beginning of the offseason, here we sit, with training camp less than a month away and no extension in sight.
Nevertheless, Tania Ganguli of the Chronicle suggests the recent Justin Smith extension in San Francisco could be just what the doctor ordered to spur the Texans to action:
Consider: Before making this deal, Justin Smith’s salary cap figure for 2013 was $8 million with a $7.5 million salary this season. Now the 49ers cut nearly $4.3 million off his cap figure while leaving his salary virtually unchanged for 2013. They gave him a minimum-base salary of $940,000 with a $6.56 million signing bonus and a $500,000 workout bonus.
If they gave Antonio Smith a four-year extension through 2017, they could lower his 2013 cap number significantly just by reducing his base salary to the minimum — $840,000 for someone with eight years experience — and making up the remaining $5.16 million in a signing bonus. He would receive the full signing bonus up front, thus not impacting his cash flow for the year, but the amount of the signing bonus that counts against the salary cap would be evenly split over the length of the contract.
Sounds entirely reasonable, doesn't it? So what's the hold-up? Ganguli correctly notes perhaps the biggest issue--the difference in age between the Smiths. Justin Smith is already 34, while Antonio Smith is currently 31 years old. It stands to reason that Antonio may not view himself as close to calling it a career as Justin is, which could necessarily mean a longer commitment from the Texans.
Then again--as Ganguli wisely observes--Antonio need only look around the league to see how tight the market is for players who are over 30 years of age. There's really no reason for Antonio Smith and the Texans not to work something out. I suppose it's possible the Texans feel sufficiently good about someone younger and much cheaper stepping in for Antonio in 2014 without much of a dropoff; as fans, however, we haven't seen anything in the games (yet) to justify such a stance.
My money's still on Antonio Smith being a Houston Texan in 2014. What say you? Cast your ballot in the poll and then continue the discussion in the Comments below.