Brad Smith restructures contract

PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Brad Smith restructured the final two years of his contract with the Buffalo Bills in a move that provides the versatile playmaker a better shot at making the young team’s receiver-stocked roster.

A person familiar with the decision said Monday the new deal provides the Bills additional salary-cap space and also better reflects Smith’s production during his first two seasons in Buffalo. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the move, and Smith did not reveal the reason behind it.

“Yeah, I’m not really discussing that,” Smith said. “It’s kind of personal between myself and the team. I’m just glad to be here in camp working.”

The National Football Post first reported Smith had restructured his contract Sunday, before the Bills opened training camp in suburban Rochester.

Smith is a seven-year veteran, who also doubles as a kickoff returner and wildcat quarterback specialist. He signed a four-year, $15 million contract with the Bills in free agency in July 2011.

Not including bonuses, he was set to make a $2.75 million base salary this season, and $3 million next year.

That could have proven pricey for a player who is seeking to find a niche in new coach Doug Marrone’s offense, and after the Bills spent the offseason overhauling their group of receivers.

Buffalo used second- and third-round draft picks to select Southern California receiver Robert Woods and Texas speedster Marquise Goodwin. The Bills then followed up by signing undrafted rookie free agents Da’Rick Rogers and Brandon Kaufman. Both have a shot to make the roster.

Add in second-year player T.J. Graham, and that leaves Smith in a crowd of receivers competing for spots behind returning starter Stevie Johnson.

“That’s something that’s totally out of my control,” Smith said, referring to the number of newcomers at his position. “What I do is focus on myself to be the best player I can be, and improve every day.”

Smith is now the Bills’ most experienced receiver, and adds value with his versatility, particularly on special teams.

In two seasons in Buffalo, he has a combined 37 catches for 392 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored returning a kickoff last season.

Smith’s role as a wildcat quarterback, however, is no longer as attractive under Marrone as it was under former coach Chan Gailey.

Marrone, on Monday, said he wants Smith to focus on playing receiver and special teams.

Smith first showed off his versatility at Missouri, where he became the first college player to surpass 8,000 yards passing and 4,000 yards rushing.

He spent his first five NFL seasons playing in various roles with the New York Jets, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2006 draft.

Overall, he has a combined 970 yards rushing and four touchdowns; 949 yards receiving and five TDs; has thrown one touchdown pass; and scored four times returning kickoffs.

Smith credits his versatility as a key in establishing a long-term NFL career.

“I’d say I’m just tremendously blessed to be able to contribute to a team in different ways,” Smith said. “If I have one role, and they move me to another role, I can do that and contribute.”

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