Head coach Jon Gruden made it crystal clear blocking tight ends are vital to his Raiders offense.
“You need a blocking tight end,” Gruden said at the NFL Scouting Combine, “if you’re going to slam the ball with a beast.”
Gruden secured two.
He signed free agent Derek Carrier on Tuesday, not as a replacement for Lee Smith. He’s a supplement.
That was proven when Smith agreed on terms of a new three-year contract, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday morning.
Smith was originally signed before the 2015 season, and has been a key member of the blocking corps. He took a pay cut to remain with the Raiders last year, and didn’t want to move on this offseason.
Smith is immensely popular in the Raiders locker room. His signing should excite quarterback Derek Carr and offensive linemen, especially.
The Raiders have re-signed Smith and defensive tackle Justin Ellis from their free-agent class. They hope to keep NaVorro Bowman and TJ Carrie, especially. Denico Autry is also one they hope to retain, but the defensive lineman wants to test the market.