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Clifton Smith Visiting Green Bay, Decision Forthcoming

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Clifton Smith Visiting Green Bay, Decision Forthcoming

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back and All-Pro kick returner Clifton Smith is visiting with the Packers in Green Bay today, according to his agent Jason Lamont Dillard.

"We're thinking about it right now," said Dillard.

At this point, no signing is imminent as Smith is mulling offers from other teams. However, Dillard indicated that the timeframe for a decision is today.

"Both sides are seeing where they're at, at this point," said Dillard.

Ironically, Smith was cut from the Buccaneers after Tampa Bay claimed former Green Bay running back Kregg Lumpkin. Smith and rookie offensive tackle Derek Hardman were released to make room for Lumpkin and fellow waiver pick-up center Ted Larson (from New England).

Since coming into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2008, Smith has a career kick return average of 28.3 yards on 67 attempts and 12.1 yards on 46 punt returns.

But he also has a reputation as a fumbler. The Buccaneers have lost possession of the ball four times on Smith's seven career fumbles coming on both offense and on returns.

His best season was his rookie year in 2008 when he was named to both the Associated Press All-Pro team and the NFC Pro Bowl squad after returning one kick and one punt each for a touchdown.

There are several medical concerns surrounding Smith. After an impressive rookie season, Smith had an injury-plagued second year that saw him suffer a concussion when he took a hit from Dante Wesley of the Carolina Panthers while awaiting a punt that led to Wesley's ejection from the game. He was then placed on injured reserve later in the season following a second concussion.

Smith also missed the first two games of the 2010 exhibition season while battling knee pain resulting from complications with gout. Although he returned for the third and fourth preseason games.

The Buccaneers decided to let go Smith when they had other options available to them in the return game despite the potential of Smith.

"That was a touch call," said Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris yesterday. "Obviously, one of the sentimental favorites. Obviously, one of those guys that you really have to negotiate with yourself and with what is going on, but with the emergence of a guy like Kareem Huggins, with the emergence of what a guy like Sammie [Stroughter] is able to do in the return game, with the emergence of a guy like [Micheal] Spurlock who is coming back, a guy like [Preston] Parker, and all those different type of returner guys that we have and all the guys that have played different positions, he really was one of the guys that we had to make one of those tough decisions on.

"There is no doubt in my head that he will definitely be one of those guys to go stick somewhere else and find a way to get back here and do something that I am going to regret," said Morris. "I'm going to have to hug him at the end of the game–win, lose, or draw–because he is definitely one of those guys that you love and care about, and he's definitely one of our favorite Buccaneers of all time."

An opening for Smith conceivably came when the Packers decided to release former return specialist Will Blackmon who made it through four mostly injury-filled seasons with the exception of 2008 when he really put himself on the map.

Blackmon suffered a season-ending ACL tear last season and has continued to have flare-ups throughout the course of this season's training camp.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy indicated yesterday that the team is considering Jordy Nelson and Brandon Jackson on kick returns and Tramon Williams and Greg Jennings on punt returns, but they may have to go another direction if and when they were to sign Smith.

The Packers are currently at the 53-man roster limit and would have to make room for Smith, should they sign him.

At 5-9 and 190 pounds, Smith also plays running back and could conceivably assume the third halfback role on the team unless the Packers decide to stick with John Kuhn. In his two years in Tampa Bay, Smith has done nothing to stand out on the offensive side of the ball tallying only 12 total carries for 47 yards and adding 6 receptions for 26 yards.

The Buccaneers also credit him for having 14 special teams tackles for his play on coverage units.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (40) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

hyperRevue's picture

Please, god, get it done.

qotsa's picture

Don't let him leave without signing a contract.

RockinRodgers's picture

Who gets cut? Quinn Johnson?

davyjones's picture

yep--opportunity cost. If they sign him--and I kinda like it--who goes? Hall, Johnson, Crabtree??

Max's picture

If he's healthy, it's a good pickup. I'm sure the Packers have done their homework on this one, so we should know pretty soon.

Tommyboy's picture

Man, I hope they don't let Crabtree go...maybe C.J. Wilson? I was a little surprised he made the cut.

qotsa's picture

Cut McDonald and put him on the practice squad, there is no way he helps this team this year.

packeraaron's picture

That's kind of what I'm thinking as well.

Max (ukpackersfan)'s picture

Me too. He's this seasons Giacomini otherwise.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Adjacent over hypotenuse.

lmills's picture

Wasn't there an article that said McDonald had some different teams calling about him? Wouldn't he get signed elsewhere if he gets cut?

packeraaron's picture

Think you're thinking of Giacomini. I don't recall anyone sniffing around McDonald, though I could be wrong.

Packnic's picture

let one injured KR go and sign another one? eh. I mean the front office is smarter than me and privy to more information. But its just hard to get excited about a Tampa Bay cast off, who was good two years ago.

Dayne's picture

More fumbling problems? Why don't we just put Shields back there...

I'm in favor of Tramon, GJ or Woodson. Get the footballers out there.

bigfog's picture

That's all well and good until one of them goes down with an injury for the sake of a 15 yard return. No thanks.

hyperRevue's picture

Tramon, Jennings or Woodson? No, no, and hell no.

Exposing their #1 and #2 CBs and #1 WR to the punishment of the return game is just insane.

If they don't sign someone from outside, I'd just give both jobs to Jordy. He's nothing special, but reliable. And if he gets hurt, the season wouldn't be tanked.

Dayne's picture

Maybe we should tell Mike McCarthy to order Woodson to avoid tackling at all costs so he doesn't get hurt.

While he's at it MM should also tell Jennings to only try to catch balls when he is super wide open so he isn't tackled thus chancing injury.

Field position is important. It's time to go all in and get the best returner on the field. Let's not put a Buccaneer castoff on the field or no-burst Jordy.

hyperRevue's picture

Hardly valid comparisons. Field position is important, no doubt. But not so important as to put two integral offensive and defensive weapons at unnecessary risk.

hyperRevue's picture

I'd also add that with an offense as explosive as the Packers' should be, field position is a lot less important than it otherwise might be.

MLecl0001's picture

It amazes me how quickly people forget the Super Bowl that was just played. If you look at the stats from the game:[email protected]#tab:an...

The 2 things that stand out are:

1. The pick six on Manning.

2. Average Colts starting field position 16 yd line. Average Saints starting field position 28 yd line.

Just because the offense is explosive and potent it is foolish to assume field position just isnt a big concern. Special Teams can win and lose you games when facing an opponent of equal talent and ability. Trust me when you get into the play offs, for the most part thats who your opposition is gonna be.

lars's picture

So, in essence, the Packers would have "traded" Lumpkin for Smith. The cut is obvious---AJ Hawk, and elevate Francois to the 53.

hyperRevue's picture

Cutting Hawk and elevating Francois keeps the Packers at 53. They'd still need to cut someone to add Smith.

hyperRevue's picture

On another note, what do you think the odds are that the Packers bring Blackmon back after week 6, if he finally heals?

dougie smooth's picture

I think the Packers have to wait the length of the injury settlement plus 6 weeks since they cut him. Every other team could sign Blackmon as soon as the injury settlement is over (sounded like 2-3 weeks from what I've read).

So, around week 9, if Blackmon is still jobless and if our return game is still horrid, maybe they'd bring him back. I'd like that, but it seems unlikely.

hyperRevue's picture

Oh, interesting. It was my understanding that the Packers could re-sign him after 6 weeks. But it's entirely possible I'm mistaken.

lars's picture

Ha, of course. Well, 7 players at TE and FB---take your pick. Or Underwood to IR? Or, as Nagler said McDonald to PS (replacing Campbell.)

Cole's picture

Underwood to IR? You must be kidding.

PackersThad's picture

Not sure how excited I am about the Packers signing a player that fumbles...I'd rather have Jordy out there.

packeraaron's picture

Who was benched in the last real game...for fumbling?

PackersThad's picture


Dayne's picture

I'd rather have the best returner on the field no matter what their status is elsewhere on the team.

We might be able to beat the Lions with fumbles and poor field position, but not the best of the best.

qotsa's picture

In 2 years Smith fumbled twice out of 67 kick returns and once in 46 punt returns. Jordy Nelson fumbled 1 kickoff in 36 returns and 2 punts in 17 returns. Nelson fumbled just as much in less than half the returns.

WayneF's picture

I would have to believe that if the Packers aren't scared off by his medical issues, he'll be a Packer by midnight. Who wouldn't want to play for a team that's favored to go the the Super Bowl and is in desperate need of a return specialist?

hyperRevue's picture

@CliftonSmith22: GB fans, thank you for all the love you've shown me. Im making this decision based on family and on business ...


@CliftonSmith22: green bay was amazing. loved great tradition out here now time to fly to option #2 and make a decision.

Brooklyn81's picture

it cant hurt to try him out. He did burn us last year. And maybe with the coaching of Edgar Bennett can help his fumbling problems

Corwin's picture

Could he be the guy that finally bumps Jarrett Bush from the roster?

cow42's picture

can't cut bush right now. you gotta have 6 corners on the roster, especially when one is already injured (underwood).

bush'll be on the team until Harris is back.

better get used to the idea.

IF this happens...
it'd be mcdonald that gets put on the PS. he's PS eligible and OL is the area in which they have the most depth. How crazy is that? next to WR, the OL might be the deepest position group on the team... what a difference a year makes.

Richard's picture

Signing a guy like Clifton is a no-brainer. Only a fool would want Williams, Jennings or Woodson handling PR/KR duties. Losing either of those players to injury would be devastating.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised if Thompson low-balled Clifton and we lose him to another team.

SpiderPack's picture

Yeah, from Clifton's ~ 5pm twitter posts, it sure sounds like he might've been low-balled.

packeraaron's picture

Rob Demovsky will be joining us on Transplants tonight. He's got the scoop

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