Marcus Smith returns after skipping OTAs, expects to make roster


Marcus Smith had a pretty simple reason for skipping Eagles OTAs this spring:

They were voluntary. 

It's not a great reason, but that’s the story the former first-rounder stuck with Tuesday morning, coming off the field after the team's first practice of its three-day mandatory minicamp. 

"Well, it was my decision and my agent's decision," Smith said. "We just decided not to come. I trained at home."

Why did he make that decision? 

"Wasn't a reason. It was voluntary," he said. "I just stayed at home and trained."

There you have it. Sort of. 

Smith returned to the team this week, for the mandatory minicamp, avoiding a possible cumulative fine of over $80,000.

While Smith's reasoning for skipping OTAs was simple, it also doesn't seem to make a whole heckuva lot of sense, especially for a former first-rounder who has been an overwhelming disappointment since entering the NFL. 

Smith said neither he nor his agent has asked for his release, which would give him extra time to find a new team and perhaps a fresh start. 

"I'm expecting to be on the team," Smiths aid. "I'm expecting to play. I'm expecting to have a great year."

Smith actually attended the first couple of weeks of the team's voluntary workout schedule this spring but left the facility before the start of OTAs in May. 

During his time away, Smith was in Maryland working with renowned pass-rush guru Chuck Smith. Smith still had his team-issued iPad and was able to watch practice film from the OTA sessions he missed. 

"I don't feel like I missed anything. I knew the playbook," he said. "Knew the playbook well. I think when I went home I was just working on my pass rush, the same things I would be working on here."

Still, it's a little curious for a player seemingly on the fringe of the roster to take it upon himself to decide he didn't need to be at voluntary practices. For reference, the other players who skipped some voluntary practices were Fletcher Cox (one week), Jason Peters (more on his situation here) and Donnie Jones. Smith doesn’t have nearly the clout and résumé of those three. 

"I'm not concerned at all," Smith said about his standing with the team. "I leave it to God, keep my faith in him and just came up here and now it's minicamp and I'm doing what I'm doing." 

This offseason, the team signed veteran Chris Long and then drafted another defensive end (Derek Barnett) in the first round. So with those two moves, Smith's chances of making the roster seemingly dropped even more. 

Smith said he's not upset with the organization and understands why it did what it did. 

"It's the business side of it," Smith said. "It's the Eagles doing what's best for the organization. You just have to come in and compete every day. That's all you have to do and love on the guys that do come in, especially the first-rounder, especially Chris Long. I'm just trying to learn from him. I can take some things from Derek Barnett as well."

This season, Smith is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract. The team unsurprisingly elected to forgo exercising the fifth-year option on his contract, which Smith knew was coming. 

This year, Smith will make just under $900,000 with a cap hit of $2.48 million, but is reportedly due a roster bonus of nearly $600,000 early in training camp, which complicates matters further. 

"I don't deal with the money side," Smith said when asked about the roster bonus. "I just come to play."

As of Tuesday morning, when he hit the practice field, that was finally true. The 26-year-old still said he expects to make the team and still has one big goal: to become a starter. 

That seems … highly unlikely. 

"I still see myself having a future here," he said. "That's why I'm here at minicamp. That's why I want to be here. That's why I'm here with my teammates. That’s it."

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